Where do we find ourselves?
The status quo of the world of work has been rocked by the quake of the pandemic in the last few years, catalysing many people into an existential crisis and prompting them to begin to consider how to find meaningful work.
Post-pandemic saw a steady stream of people leaving their unfulfilling jobs, labelled the “Great Resignation”, to explore work that gives them the sense that they are contributing to something bigger and perhaps creating a future that they and their children want to live into, instead of business as usual.
This re-evaluation of priorities, together with remote working and digital collaboration, are reshaping the way we approach our careers. As explored in this Indeed article: The Great Realization: Is Happiness at Work Possible?, people are realising that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives and that a deeper level of happiness at work is possible!
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, there is a growing awareness that meaning at work matters to most people.
As we stand at the intersection of the old and the new, the question becomes not just where we physically find ourselves, but how we define meaning in our professional lives.
What is meaningful work?
Definition of meaningful work
Meaningful work is work which matters to us. It is meaningful because it aligns to our values and beliefs i.e. what we consider important in life. We feel motivated because it finds a deep connection between what we do and what truly matters to us. It’s an expression of what we stand for.
Meaningful work is not a lofty ideal; it’s the cornerstone of a fulfilling and purpose-driven career. It encompasses a sense of fulfilment, alignment with personal values, and the knowledge that our contributions make a positive impact on the world.
Solving the problem
While finding meaningful work can sometimes seem elusive, it’s important to debunk the myth that it’s reserved for specific professions or those willing to take a financial hit. There are alternative paths to finding meaning in your work, even if you’re not pursuing a career typically associated with making a difference. It’s about discovering unconventional avenues and redefining the parameters of what constitutes meaningful work.
It’s not solely about working for a non-profit or in a socially impactful sector. You can find meaning in any industry or role by exploring how you can contribute positively within your existing context. Or alternatively, blaze a path to creating work for yourself, by venturing into starting your own business.
How to find meaningful work
Find what matters to you
Without self-knowledge, it’s impossible! This is the key.
The journey to finding meaningful work starts with self-discovery
What do you care about? What ignites your passion? What issues, causes, or activities resonate with your core values? Identifying what truly matters to you provides a sense of mission, a guiding force that directs your career toward purpose and fulfilment. By understanding your intrinsic motivations, you lay the foundation for a career that aligns with your authentic self.
The meaning of your work might not be the only aspect, find out what’s important to you and what your current level of satisfaction is with each of the 12 factors of work happiness.
Discover the overlap
Imagine a triangle with each corner representing what you love doing, what you excel at, and what you deeply care about. The magic happens at the intersection of these elements. Identify the overlap, the unique convergence of your talents, passions, and values. Rather like a great dish with the perfect marriage of ingredients – that’s how you find meaningful work. This is the territory where your professional journey becomes not just a job but a calling.
Fulfil a need
At its essence, meaningful work is a symbiotic relationship between personal fulfilment and societal needs. It’s not just about what you want, but also about what the world needs. By identifying the intersection of what matters to you, what you’re suited to contribute, and the pressing needs of the world, you discover the sweet spot where your work becomes a valuable contribution to the greater good.
Get in the game
Finding meaningful work requires stepping into environments where like-minded individuals converge. Seek out supportive communities, both online and offline, that share your passions and values. If you’re drawn to a specific industry or cause, immerse yourself in it. Attend events, join forums, and connect with people who care about what you care about. This not only expands your professional network but also exposes you to opportunities aligned with your mission.
Start something – Take action
Action is the catalyst for change. While thoughtful planning is essential, meaningful work requires tangible steps. Whether it’s exploring a new industry, signing up for a course, volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, or initiating a new project or side-hustle,, action propels you toward meaningful opportunities. It’s the bridge between envisioning a purposeful career and actually living it.
Look for ways you can grow
How can you fully become all you can be? Are you limiting yourself with who you think you are and are capable of?
Meaningful work requires continuous growth. Challenge yourself to expand beyond perceived limitations to uncover new facets of your potential. Identify areas for personal and professional development. This could involve learning new skills, taking on challenging projects, or embracing opportunities for growth. By adopting a growth mindset, you not only evolve as an individual but also unlock new possibilities for meaningful contributions.
Make room for your new work
Before fully immersing yourself in the pursuit of meaningful work, prepare the groundwork. Cultivate a positive mindset by dispelling self-doubt and overcoming limiting beliefs. Assess and stabilise your finances to provide the freedom to make choices aligned with your mission rather than financial constraints. Finally, give yourself the luxury of time for reflection. Meaningful decisions often require moments of quiet introspection.
As we navigate the post-pandemic world of work, the quest for meaningful work becomes more than just a career choice—it becomes a guiding principle for a fulfilling life. By finding what matters to you, exploring the overlap of passion and talent, fulfilling a broader need, surrounding yourself with supportive communities, taking action, embracing growth, and creating the mental and financial space for your new endeavours, you embark on a transformative journey toward professional fulfilment. Remember, meaningful work is not just a destination; it’s a journey of self-discovery, action, and contribution.
May your quest for meaningful work be both enlightening and rewarding.
Further reading --> www.freeyourflow.org/blog/