“It is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” — Jim Collins
We spent a lot of time at work. In fact, an average person will spend 90,000+ hours working over their lifetime (35% of our waking hours!).
Hopefully, then, it’s time that’s meaningfully spent.
You might have heard this: Meaningful work is about finding your passion, finding your calling.
Easier said than done, unless you are one of those rare unicorns. You already knew you’d be a doctor (well, an orthopedic surgeon) ever since you started teething. (That really deserves its own article.)
I was not one of those people (unfortunately for my parents). I count five significant chapters in my career, and they have been very different jobs. Each pivot was also significant: sometimes I changed cities, or industries, or functions, or the type and size of companies I worked for, or a combination of those things. And the job that was a great fit for me in my twenties fresh out of college, is very different from a job that I would consider meaningful today.
I have discovered that finding what you want in a job and over the long run, building a career, is, in itself, hard work.
What does this hard work (to find meaningful work) entail? At least three major parts:
Experiment with different jobs; fail and try again. They say that a career (and life itself) is a journey: testing different types of jobs will allow you to collect multiple data points that will help you get to a great answer
Connecting the dots: as you move along your career journey, reflect on what you have learned in your past, what you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing, and what you are curious about. This requires you to examine yourself and the situations you have been in, and to know yourself. This is also crucial as you consider how you tell your career story to others, such as you would do formally in an interview.
Writing the next chapter: Only by knowing where you’ve been can you best chart the path forward.
No job is perfect, of course. And bosses leave, organizations change, you grow: that is why this is an ongoing process. And there are no right answers -- only you can discover what that is, for you.