Small Ways to Find Meaning In Your Work

Feeling a sense of purpose in what you do can help you feel fulfilled in your day-to-day.

Tom Werner/ Getty Images
Tom Werner/ Getty Images

A recent Pew survey found that the number of U.S. adults who said they derive meaning and purpose in life from their jobs declined from 24% to 17% over the past four years, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that a record of 4.3 million US workers quit their jobs in August 2021 alone. This growing trend is being called the “Great Resignation,” but we at Thrive see it as “The Great Re-evaluation.” We’re seeing individuals leaving their jobs to rethink what brings them a sense of purpose and reconsider what they want from their lives. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small ways they find meaning in their work. Which of these resonates with you?

Build meaningful relationships

“Client service is a major part of my role — and helping people feel seen, heard, and acknowledged is something I care about deeply. I connect meaning to my work through client happiness and uplifting their mood.”

—Karisa Karmali, personal trainer and HR professional, Ontario, Canada

Prioritize work-life integration 

“I have found the key to finding meaning is to ensure my work supports my life, and not having my life support my work. When I shift to having my work support my life, I am always more fulfilled.”

—Lisa Rangel, executive resume writer, Asbury Park, N.J.

Embrace mentorship

“Mentorship helps me find meaning in my work. The legacy of my work will be the lives it reaches. Mentorship is a vehicle to greater legacy. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or disconnected, I inventory the career and social capital I’ve accumulated, and find ways to share it with those deserving.”

—Stacy Cassio, CEO, Charlotte, N.C.

Identify your “why”

“I find meaning in the work I do because I know that the education provided at my school, The Fay School, is shaping the next generations to make the world a better, more equitable place. The relationships I have built with parents, colleagues and families make my work meaningful. Seeing a shy Kindergartener blossom into an articulate, well-rounded tween is rewarding, and is my ‘why.’ I also love connecting with families that are from around the world with varying backgrounds and belief systems.”

—Kaitlin Necas, communications officer, Houston, TX

Be open to learning

“I find meaning in my work when I decide to explore something I’m eager to learn more about. There’s so much purpose in learning something new. Also, if I think about how my work might help others process a common life experience, that gives me meaning.” 

—Courtney Daniels, filmmaker, Sherman Oaks, CA

Think about the impact you’re making

“I am very fortunate to work with impact entrepreneurs who are driven by their mission. Being able to help them create successful companies brings joy and meaning to me every day. When I feel down or I am spinning my wheels, I think about the number of people I will impact indirectly through my work and this brings a smile to my face.”

—Isabelle Bart, coach, Orange County, CA 

Appreciate the joyful moments

“It is very easy to get caught up in all the busyness at the end of the year and lose sight of what matters. Over the last several months I’ve been focused on finding moments of joy in my work and asking those on my team to do the same. Sharing these moments together as well as making a concerted effort to focus on those joyful moments has made us all grateful for each other and helped us to have a positive and enthusiastic outlook in such a busy time for our business. It also helps us keep a positive outlook as we deal with things that arise that might be less than joyful. 

—Suzanne Schnaars, senior manager, Basking Ridge, N.J.

Take a moment to reflect after each day

“To connect to the purpose of my work, I lean into an evening reflection on one question: ‘In what ways did I leave things better than I found them today?’ I learned this approach from a dear friend, and this mindset was a huge shift for me.”

—Donna Peters, executive coach, Atlanta, GA

Give back outside of work

“I’m inspired by the stories of people staying positive and connected during these challenging times, and the simple steps they take towards finding positivity. I’ve meandered from my daily work of informing people how to have fun in my community to unchaining from the computer and being part of the community, volunteering to serve meals and help others. And I’m looking at reinventing myself to work where I am needed most, perhaps in the mental health field.”

—Nanette Wiser, Tampa Bay, FL

Celebrate your wins

“I believe happiness drives meaning and purpose. When we are happy, we find purpose — not the other way around. It makes me really happy when I see my talented clients develop new skills and grow in confidence. So my purpose is to do the best work I can for my clients, because I know it will continue to make me happy and fuel my purpose. Everyone wins in the process! 

—Taty Fittipaldi, talent development strategist, Mountain Lakes, N.J.

Lean into empathy

“I have found great meaning in sharing my life with others. To see the burdens of the past in many ways redeemed through receiving help and helping others has been incredibly rewarding in the work that I do. It’s also an honor to partner together in people’s personal lives and the deepest parts of their stories. Helping others has in many ways helped me find a rightful place for my own pain. In many cases, this has revealed hope and has been rewarding.”

—Josh Neuer, licensed professional counselor, Greenville, S.C.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    What is Your Purpose?

    by Dr. Lise Deguire
    Meaningful work is easy to create
    Community//

    3 Ways To Find Meaning In Your Job

    by Gaj Ravichandra
    Purpose//

    A Psychologist Explains How to Find Meaning in Your Life Every Day

    by Patricia Thompson, PhD
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.