If You Don’t Find Purpose in your Work, Here’s What You Can Do
Finding purpose in your work is arguably one of the most illusive challenges—but, somewhat ironically, it’s incredibly easy to know when you lack it. If you’re finding your day-to-day to be uninspiring, read on for insights into how to go about identifying purpose in your current role and when to move on to something more fulfilling.
Figure out the purpose that drives you
There’s no doubt that finding meaning in your work is important: Of people who love their jobs, 83% say that having work that matter plays a role in their job satisfaction. If you’re feeling unfulfilled, however, take some time to think about what it is you’re actually looking for before deciding there’s no purpose in your work.
For some people, the purpose of work is to enjoy the day-to-day tasks, whether that looks like crunching numbers or managing teams. If this is you, it might be a better use of your time to prioritize finding the right functional role as opposed to searching for a company or industry you’re passionate about.
On the other hand, others are motivated by working for a mission-driven company with values that align with their own—regardless of the duties and deliverables of the job itself. These people are likely better off targeting specific organizations and/or sectors they’ll be excited about working in. If you’re still trying to figure out what sort of mission inspires you the most, consider doing volunteer work outside of the office, targeting organizations that work in spaces you think you might enjoy for full-time work.
Still further, some employees find purpose in their interactions with colleagues, and thus require strong relationships with their managers, peers, and subordinates to be satisfied in their work environment. If team dynamics are your top priority, think critically about which types of personalities resonate with your own—both professionally and socially—and seek those out as you interview for new roles or even transition to new teams or roles within your current organization.
To be sure, most people will find purpose based on a mix of factors, but use these guide rails to help prioritize what’s most important for you and your career.
Seek opportunities outside of your day-to-day
The reality is that very few people love every aspect of their jobs, so be at peace with the fact that you’ll most likely have to slog through some work you don’t enjoy—but look for additional opportunities to keep you motivated. Volunteer to participate in projects you care about but that aren’t necessarily tied to your normal responsibilities, whether that’s running a company volunteering program or piloting a recycling initiative in the office.
Not only will this give you a distraction from your day-to-day and (hopefully) something to make you excited to come to work each morning—it’ll also provide the chance to interact with employees from other departments and potentially help you build relationships with senior management who may not have visibility into your direct work but are also passionate about these types of initiatives.
Look for a better fit
If you’re still struggling to find purpose in your work, it may simply be time for something new. Rather than rushing into it, however, think strategically about what purpose you’re chasing—and how well a new opportunity will or won’t fulfill that purpose.
Before diving into the job search, stack rank your priorities and determine which elements of a job will help you feel most fulfilled, taking into account your weighting of functional role, type of company, and fit with the team, among any other factors important to you. Use this to guide your search, being careful not to stray from your priorities just because an opportunity looks exciting from the outside. Once you do find a role that fulfills the purpose you’ve determined to be most critical to your job satisfaction, you’ll realize the benefits associated with a job that’s aligned to your own goals and outlook.
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