Work occupies a central position in our quest for meaning and purpose. Most of us spend the majority of our time at work, which often shapes our identity and either creates a sense of belongingness or not. How we see work today is different compared to previous generations. When it comes to career choices, our priorities have changed and along with the monetary and social benefits, we place the search for meaning in the forefront. According to Gallup World Poll, almost 90 percent of workers were actively disengaged and some even stated they hated their jobs. Nine out of ten people spend half of their lives doing work they don’t want to do in companies they don’t want to be in.
Today, our work becomes a way to express ourselves and fulfill our potential. More and more people ask for guidance in creating the work that will make them happy and bring more meaning to their life.
I asked three influential experts to support my commitment to inspire you to create your life’s work because I am convinced that what you do matters.
Meaning is created in the single moments, hence what matters most is how many of these moments are aligned with what is most important to you. “Too often we are bombarded with this word passion”, as Mel Robbins says. “What’s your passion? Find your passion! It becomes overwhelming because passion sounds so grand and elusive.” Mel believes that “you find meaningful work when you find what energizes you. That way we can find the power to not only seek meaningful work but to create meaningful experiences within the work we already do. “
“Meaning isn’t created through grand gestures; it’s the micro-actions we take every day, those 5-second decisions that move our lives forward in a powerful way.” Mel Robbins
Explore what activities make you come alive and find a way to integrate them into your daily life. Even if your career is very specific or monotonous, there are still ways to do what lits you up. If making people smile gets you energized, find ways to do that. If you enjoy writing, but you work in sales- consider starting a blog to share your experiences, which may also benefit others in your role. Knowing that you’re contributing is going to increase your sense of purpose and allow you to generate more meaning.
Shifting the focus towards the everyday micro-actions will help you bring more clarity to what is truly important to you, what are you naturally drawn to. Being too focused on the pursuit of a purposeful career and pressuring yourself to find it, could easily push you further away. Instead, Jerry Colonna advises: “ Relax your grip and think of purpose not as the goal but as the outcome of living and leading authentically. Strive to live in a way where the inner you matches the outer you; where your actions are in alignment with your core sense of being. This will require an even deeper and more difficult task: knowing yourself and accepting the whole of you. Being in touch with the you that is brilliant and clueless, fearless and terrified, honorable and sneaky.
From that authentic place, you’ll be able to live in a way where the inner and outer align and fulfillment will be a daily occurrence.”
The question is how to begin the journey to self- inquiry? Often times we find ourselves juggling everyday commitments at work, family and social life? It seems difficult to get in touch with ourselves when there are constant distractions and noise around us. It is challenging to even find the time and place to be undisturbed, to be with our own thoughts. This is why Gary Vaynerchuk suggests prioritizing your own needs and creating space for reflection and clarity.
His advice is to “take a step back, shut down for 24, 48, even 72 hours. Go away, find a very remote place you can get to for a low cost, a crappy cabin, and be with yourself. Start talking to yourself, for real. You need to be your biggest fan and your harshest critic. With that friction, you’ll know what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and what really, truly matters to you. Then go do it.”
Life purpose and meaning do not exist independently of you. They are to be created by you. Give yourself permission to start crafting them day by day.
Remember, a meaningful career is not a destination to be reached. It is comprised of experiences that are unfolding as time goes by- it is an active process. Life has a unique way to show us the signs, our part is to develop the capability to listen and follow what feels good to us. Understanding yourself better and the activities that make you feel alive is the first step. Being courageous to follow through and actively choosing them is what will make the difference. Take small steps at first, don’t pressure yourself to figure everything out overnight. Once you become intentional to make the tiny shifts, you’ll start noticing more clarity over time. Your work will make more sense to you, and people will start seeing you for the inspired individual you are and start appreciating your contribution and talent even more.
Share in the comments how you find meaning in your work. What are the most important activities that make you excited and energized to get up in the morning?