Does your job give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment?
Are you working at a job that makes you feel depressed, bored, undervalued, underwhelmed, or underdeveloped? Do you dread Monday mornings? Perhaps you’ve been told that the type of jobs that make you happy do not pay well or provide a stable living. Or maybe you believe that work isn’t supposed to be fun or enjoyable. With all of these doubts, how can it be possible to find purpose and fulfillment not only in your career, but in life itself?
Social media, movies, and endless fiction novels has created the rather unpleasant habit of comparing your life to others. We think we want or need the lives of Bill Gates, Justin Trudeau, Oprah or maybe Harvey from ‘Suits.’ Many highly-ambitious people feel that continuously doing boring or difficult tasks is a necessary part of achieving some major goal or success in the future. Without a sense of purpose, it can be extremely difficult to continuously do tedious tasks over the long-term. You may find yourself falling into a slump or even depression.
Finding passion, purpose and fulfillment isn’t easy and it can take time, hard work and a lot research. It can be agonizing not knowing if you will ever find it or when. It also takes a certain amount of faith and belief to not give up and work hard at finding the right fit for you.
Here are 9 ways to help you discover purpose and fulfillment in your career:
Write down all of the things that you enjoy doing
What makes your heart start beating a little faster? What’s something you look at that triggers feelings of hope and excitement. Ask you yourself this question: what would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money and had unlimited time?
Find the things that don’t feel like chores and dedicate your life to doing something positive in fields that make you happy! Follow your gut. As I discussed in my previous post “Are You in the Right Job? How to Know When it’s Time to Quit” listening to your feelings if the best way to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in your career and life in general.
Engage in experiential learning
Experiential learning means you experiment and try things to see how it feels. You can learn what you like from many new kinds of experiences. You need to spend time experimenting with different career fields and options to learn what you like. Try job shadowing people in different careers for a day, or even better, a week to see what it feels like.
Think about what makes you feel jealous or envious
Watch for jealousy and envy and get more of whatever it is that makes you feel that way in your life. When on Facebook or Instagram do you see posts that bring up that little green monster inside of you? Do you see people with families, getting engaged, buying homes, going on vacations or achieving certain goals and wish that it were you?
If you do don’t feel bad or guilty about it but instead celebrate it. These are wonderful feelings when it comes to finding purpose and fulfillment. They can help you to learn more about what you want in your life. If you see photos of people having fun with a big friend group and want to have similar experiences that means, it’s time to go out there and make that happen in your life or perhaps create a career around that. Easier said than done – I know. But knowing what will give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment is key to making it happen. It means your one step closer to a more meaningful life.
Ask people what their purpose is
It might be eye-opening to realize the vast types of answers you might get from people. You may hear things like: “I want to save the world”; “My purpose is to inspire music in others”; “I want to help people”; “I want to be rich”; “My purpose is to be the best mom I can be by taking care of myself”; “I want to be healthy”; “My purpose is to continuously grow and help others grow as well”; “I want to make my family proud”.
While helping people and wanting to save the world are very noble goals, look at putting realistic expectations on yourself. Your purpose can come in many forms. Don’t feel like you have to aim for something like saving the world (although good for you if this is your purpose!).
Learn from hardships
Going through difficult times are essential for being able to feel grateful for what you have today. I don’t mean hardships like things not going your way, or going through a breakup. I mean facing poverty, or maybe trauma’s that have built you into a strong and grateful person.
If you don’t know what it’s like to not have all the luxuries we have today, try volunteering at a homeless shelter, soup kitchens, or anywhere that gives you a chance to see how lucky you are to have easy access to food, water, and a roof over your head.
Imagine you are on your deathbed and you are looking back on your life. What would you be thinking of?
You would be thinking of the things that mattered most, not the tawdry small stuff. You won’t care about that job you stayed at but weren’t passionate about. But you might regret like the 80 hours a week you worked and never saw your family or that you lived your life in a way that others expected of you.
I remember when my dad was sick with cancer, I became fixated on the real meaning of life. It completely changed the way I looked at and lived my life. It helped me find my purpose and fulfillment.
Many people will reflect upon their relationships with loved ones, if they made a difference, or if they helped others. You might think about your experiences and vacations, if you were a good mother, friend, daughter, or if you can leave behind a legacy. Do you want to die with regret or look back and have dignity to know that you lived the best life possible? Use this exercise to ensure you make that happen. I promise you won’t regret it.
Practice networking or informational interviews
Meet with as many people as you can in as many different careers and use it as an opportunity to put yourself in their shoes. Ask them about the good, the bad and the ugly in their field and what a typical day looks like. Ask how they found their career path. If they could do it over again would they chose this career? Why and why not? Ask if they can recommend anyone else to talk to in the same field. This is a zero pressure situation because you aren’t asking for a job however you are networking and it often leads to jobs. Win-win-win!
Learn what your core values are
Core values are traits and qualities that are most important to you. Learning what your core values are and creating a life that meets your values will help you find a deeply meaningful existence. Ask yourself, what matters to you? Is it freedom, flexibility, balance, stability, peace of mind, connectedness, honesty, intellect, loyalty?
Read our values list and begin getting familiar with what matters most to you. A lot of clients get frustrated when they live a life that is unaligned with their core values. For example, if you are a positive person who works with negative colleagues you will feel frustrated. Or if you value teamwork, cooperation and harmony with others but you work with a bunch of competitive sharks, you will never like your workplace. Using your core values to help make both major and minor decisions will lead to a more meaningful life full of purpose and fulfillment!
Don’t give up!
The difference between people who find purpose and fulfillment and people who don’t is that the people who find it always have faith that if they keep working on it, they will eventually find their passion. Or if they are one of the lucky ones, they will find it very quickly. They know that it is worth it, and they don’t give up. They’ve realized that the most valuable time investment is in researching who they are and what they really want.
I know that at times you might feel that it doesn’t exist, that you will never find it, or that it only happens for certain people. You might feel like you have tried so hard already and nothing has worked yet, but don’t give up! You could find it tomorrow. Be one of the people who finds a meaningful life by taking the time to make it happen despite all the uncertainty you might be feeling.
And remember: if you are stuck or having any trouble making this a reality, there is always help available!