Roman Krznaric, author of “How to Find Fulfilling Work” asks, “What is your current career doing to you as a person—to your mind, character and relationships?” We, too often, get stuck on auto-pilot, going through the daily motions of our jobs without taking the time to ask ourselves whether our jobs serve us and others. Studies show that finding meaning in our jobs increases levels of job satisfaction.
In the past some of the key drivers, when it came to choosing a career, were remuneration, an impressive job title and growth opportunities. However, in recent years, people are increasingly willing to forego a higher salary in favour of a career that gives them meaning. They’re prioritising work that gives them satisfaction and is aligned with their personal values.
We’re moving away from, “How much will I get paid?” to “Am I going to love this job?” and “Is this what I’m passionate about?” This trend is an indication of an evolving workforce and a sign that more and more people are taking control of their career development – it’s no longer about just having a job.
Finding a career that’s meaningful is easier said than done
It can be a challenging experience that requires self-awareness and self-reflection. Here are some guiding questions that will help you through this thought process:
What does your career mean to you?
It helps to understand firstly, what purpose your career serves in your life and secondly, what purpose you want it to serve. Is it a means of being recognised by others through promotions and increasingly important job titles, or an opportunity that enables you to pursue your passions? Do you want simply to earn a salary at the end of the month to pay your bills or do you want to be constantly learning and growing?
What does “making a difference” actually mean to you?
This phrase, along with “I want to add value” is bandied about often, but you need to fully explore what this means to and for you. Give some thought as to how you would like to contribute your skills, experience and talents to the greater good. Is your current career path aligned with what “making a difference” means to you. Are you able to make a difference by contributing to your team, to management and your clients? If not, think about what kind of career would enable you to add value.
How do you want your career to reward you?
It’s important to understand the triggers that make you feel accomplished at work. For instance, do you feel rewarded when you know you have made a positive contribution to your company, or do you feel rewarded when you receive a bonus or a promotion? Make a list of your needs and the goals you would like to achieve in your career. It’s easier to find a career path that gives you a sense of being fulfilled when you are well aware of what brings you gratification.
What is the future of my career?
Reflect on what your dream job would be in five years time, then in ten years time, in twenty years time and on retirement. Write a brief description of where you want to be at each of these milestones. What work are you doing? Who are you working with? Who benefits from your work, and how?
Use these reflections to create a career and look for opportunities that will help you reach your goals, give meaning and add value not only to yourself, but to everyone around you.