Have you ever wondered, “Is my work really significant?”
Have you ever found your mind wandering toward the real-world issues you’d like to solve?
Maybe career preparedness or college debt.
And you shake your head, repeat the words “My job does matter,” and return to your work. Or you decide to quit and find something more worthwhile, or you just keep wondering.
If you struggle with purpose, you’re not alone.
Often, we end up in the wrong job because we’re given bad advice.
There’s really only one question you need to find your calling – but it doesn’t usually come up in discussions of careers and callings.
Take a moment to remember the job advice you were given at the beginning of your career.
What advice did others share?
Like most of us, you were probably told to “do what you love,” “follow your passion,” or “find something that makes you excited to get up in the morning.”
But building a life you’re passionate about isn’t as simple as following your passion.
Many jobs appear fulfilling – then, three or four months in, become unbearably tedious.
Why? It can be hard to tell.
Maybe the company is bad. Maybe the position wasn’t suited to you. Maybe there’s something else, something you can’t quite identify, that’s making you miserable at work.
One job after another fails you. After several years of trying to follow your heart, it’s easy to feel discouraged.
Will I ever find a job I love?
When someone says “Do what you love!” today, you might respond, “I tried, and it didn’t work!” or even “I’m not sure what I love anymore!”
That’s because our education system doesn’t teach about finding purpose. We’re taught how to find our vocation – a career we’re good at. We’re taught how to build skills. But when we ask about purpose, we’re told to simply “follow your heart.”
And life isn’t that simple.
Shocker – I’m not going to tell you to follow your heart.
When you think about “doing what you love,” what pictures came to mind?
Stay with me here.
Are you an incredible writer?
Do you love photography?
Are you passionate about marketing?
Does electrical engineering make you light up?
Is teaching your heart’s passion?
Take a look at each of these fields again:
All of them are tasks.
Tasks are great, but they get old. Tasks are like ice cream: one bowl is great, but three or four and you’ll be sick. Photography on the weekends – great! Photography as a business? You’ll probably have days you get really sick of it. In fact, it might ruin photography for you.
Ask yourself something else now:
At the end of my life, who will be different because of my work?
Or, put another way:
How does my work change the world?
You might get tired of taking photos, but you’ll never get tired of documenting a couple’s precious moments with their first baby.
You might get tired of teaching, but you’ll never get tired of inspiring children to dream bigger and achieve more.
How does my work change the world?
You might get tired of marketing, but you’ll never get tired of promoting businesses that are changing the world for good.
Each of us desperately wants to make a difference in the world.
If your work isn’t world-changing, you’ll get bored, frustrated, and discouraged. You might have the best boss, the most supportive coworkers, and a fat paycheck – and you’ll still feel down.
Want to really love your job?
Start asking yourself one question:
“Whose lives do I want to change?”
Or, “How do I want to leave my mark on this world?”
Then get out there and make a difference.