How to Find Purpose in Daily Tasks to Increase Happiness & Productivity

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up grinning and before your eyes are all the way open you're out of bed, head swirling with thoughts of how you're going to successfully rock your day?

Your mission is clear, you know what path you're on and you know what impact you're going to have.

And then you have mornings like this:

Pancakde Faceplant Oil and Grain.jpg

Yes, this morning pancake face plant could be due to a hangover BUT the cause I'm referring to is an unmotivated, lost, "what am I doing with my life" feeling.

According to Dan Pink, author of Drive, "if then rewards don't work". Intrinsic motivation does. The desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they're interesting drive us to perform more than rewards and punishments do. If money and fame were the solution to all of our problems we wouldn't hear about celebrities being depressed or see their self-destructive behavior on TMZ.

So if the pancake facial is a result of having to head to your 9-5 or whatever daily tasks lay ahead of you, you need to find purpose in them (or change them - which is a bigger purpose-filled conversation that we'll explore in a future post).

And trust me, I can relate. I'm unmotivated to do some of the tasks I need to do as part of my job. I get paid to do them, they're easy for me to do but the thought of doing them fills me with dread and I drag ass executing them. Why? Because they don't fulfill a purpose that resonates with me. You could pay me twice as much to do them and I would still feel the same way - and I know this for a fact because I have been paid twice as much to do them. It changed nothing.

So, how did I change this? By reframing my experience.

Face it, there's gonna be some things you just have to do, you can't change that but you can change how you look at it. It will take practice and commitment but isn't feeling happy worth it?  Need more motivation? Depression and stress cause sickness and disease, if you're health is important to you, then yes, it's worth it. Put on your favorite pair of heart shaped, rose colored glasses and look at the task from a different point of view.

Ask yourself how what you're doing is helping others.

Turn sifting through your emails from a soul-sucking project into an intrinsically rewarding one by adapting a different mindset. For example, turn replying to inane client questions about what banking solutions they should choose into a task that's helping others become wiser with their finances so they can put their kids through college without going into tremendous debt or working 2 jobs until their 70.

Find the sunshine.

According to Shawn Achor, “the reality you attach to the things going on in your life…changes how your brain responds to it” and “If you see your inbox as stressful, you’re much slower to respond to those emails and your stress rises. It’s inviting people to realize there are multiple realities in the moment and you can choose the most valuable one.”

Instead of seeing your full inbox as a pain in the rear, look at it as an opportunity to connect with others. Who might you meet via email, what opportunity might you be introduced to, who's life are you going to impact in a positive way simply by hitting 'reply'?

“When the human brain is positive, you’re 3x more creative, intelligence rises, and productivity rises by 31%.” ~Shawn Achor

In sum, put yourself in control of the situation or task, do not let it control you or dictate how you feel. Instead:

Ask yourself how the task is helping someone now or in the future. For bonus points write it down *by hand*

Write down the things you're grateful for that result from doing that task. (Ex: it's paying for a surprise trip to Disney land for your kids that they're going to remember for the rest of their lives)

Set a goal doing this task will help you achieve. Whether it's mastering a skill or funding a purchase.