So many of the people I meet or observe in the workplace are searching for something more from their work. We are all different so what ‘more’ looks like varies greatly from one person to the next. What is common among people however is the desire to find greater purpose and meaning in their work. While that may be easy to say, many find it difficult to do.
At the most fundamental level to find purpose and meaning we must believe that what we do matters. Why it matters is where the real differences between us are revealed. It’s why we do what we do that has a profound impact on the strength of our spirit. Not everyone is looking for a role or career that allows them to save people/animals/trees – while of course some people look for an altruistic purpose, many don’t.
To find what purpose and meaning means to us we must first understand not only what our mind wants but also what makes our heart sing. Too many people choose their career based on what they and others believe constitutes a ‘good job’. Money and status that come with a particular job or career are common reasons people choose to venture down the path they do. Just as common is the perceived job security some careers offer relative to others.
Contemplate for a moment how often you have met people who are supposedly successful and yet miserable in their careers. Of course it is true that some people may be unhappy for reasons beyond the job – for example, the culture of their organisation or behavior of their boss may be the issue. Leave these example aside for a moment and reflect on those people who are unhappy simply because they don’t like doing what they do at work every day.
Over the years I have met accountants who don’t like working with spreadsheets or numbers, lawyers who don’t cope with conflict or debate, school teachers who don’t like kids (although they rarely admit it) and HR people who clearly don’t enjoy working with people. Each is an example of people doing a job with which they struggle to connect.
To find the career path most likely to feel meaningful and energise your spirit, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What am I doing when I am at my best – that is, focused and energized?
- What draws and holds my attention?
- What tasks do I find myself doing first?
- What are people talking about when I find myself drawn in and wanting to hear more?
- What did I dream about doing when I was a kid but allowed limiting belief to deter me from pursuing it?
- If there were no barriers to making my ideal choice, what would I be doing for a job?
Sometimes identifying the things that drain our spirit give us clues to where we will find purpose and meaning in our work. Consider also these questions:
- What tasks do I consistently put off but struggle to come back to later?
- What am I doing when I feel the life force drain from me?