Finding a meaningful job is often a priority for professionals, and everyone has different ideas on what one looks like to them. While we aspire to be purposefully engaged at work, we often have little direction on how to go about it.
When the work you do authentically connects with a broader life purpose, that’s when a meaningful career starts to take form.
Since we spend a good one-third of our days working, finding purpose can do wonders for the longevity of your career. Research shows that professionals find the value of a meaningful career much more important than factors like salary, working conditions, or promotions.
What does purpose mean to you?
Before you can begin crafting a meaningful career, you’d need to understand what purpose means to you and how it fits within your career goals. Having purpose isn’t inherent, nor is it beyond reach.
As Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search For Meaning, notes, “But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’.” Finding what engages and drives you at work can pave the way for happier work life.
Start by considering some questions to help you determine where you find meaning most. Is it pursuing a passion? Feeling challenged by new responsibilities? Helping others?
Building motivation for work is a lifelong process — turn your ambition to action with these plans:
1. Play to your strengths
Pursuing a passion is often synonymous with having a meaningful career. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For most, this proverb rings true.
For instance, a wordsmith might find writing copy for advertisements or social platforms a breeze, while someone with strong people skills might be good at sales. At times, being excellent at a skill doesn’t always translate to enjoying the work it brings.
Being good at a skill may not necessarily translate to it being their passion. So, finding a strength that doubles up as your passion can be a sweet spot. Doing something that you’re passionate about can improve your performance at work as well.
The importance lies in finding joy and satisfaction from exercising your strengths.
2. Consider outcomes of your work
Thinking about the professional legacy you’d leave behind is another way of crafting a career with meaning. During the course of your career, what do you hope to achieve?
For instance, if you find helping people rewarding, building a career in social work or non-profit organisation could be the way forward. Do you want to be on the frontlines of healthcare as a nurse? Or, do you want to be the person in charge of designing the healthcare policies for the masses?
Even though every job has a certain amount of routine tasks like emailing, giving some thought to the concrete outcomes can help you craft career moves more meaningfully.
3. Build a supportive network
Start by defining your motivations. A good place to begin is by meeting professionals who either work or volunteer for the same interests.
Other than LinkedIn, professionals can also look to other social platforms that allow individuals to discuss their interests. Meetup notifies individuals of local events they have registered an interest in, while community forums in apps like Reddit and Slack allow for healthy conversations.
Whether you enjoy financial planning or furthering social causes, building a network of like-minded professionals can get you connected to organisations you’d prefer to work for. The right support is also a confidence booster, enabling you to embrace your fears and use your skills in a meaningful way.
In the long run, having a network of trusted professionals you can go to for advice and opportunities is a step towards shaping a purposeful career.
4. Manage financial considerations
Professionals are increasingly choosing purpose over paycheque, perhaps more so among the millennials today. 36% of millennials in Singapore consider making a positive impact on their community one of their top five ambitions.
Pursuing purpose doesn’t have to come at a cost. Take time to analyse and consider your financial considerations. By evaluating your financial responsibilities, you would be more open to making some compromises to allow for a meaningful career.
Thinking ahead also gives you the opportunity to plan a sufficient financial cushion in case of rainy days.
Carving a career of purpose is incredibly personal, yet rewarding. Like many other decisions in life, finding the job that gives you meaning takes some work and is unique to every individual.