PURPOSE AND MEANING. Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? What are you here for?

Take your job, for instance

The problem is that what we think matters most in our jobs and our lives often do not align with what will really make us happy – in alignment with our values. Even worse, we don’t notice that gap until it’s too late.

Good intentions are not enough—you’re not implementing the strategy (if you had one?) that you intend if you don’t spend your time, money, and talent in a consistent way with your intentions. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? Many people fall into the trap to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.

As it turns out, the three most essential qualities that make our work meaningful, agreed on by most professionals and creatives, are:

  1. Autonomy

It’s crucial to have a good level of authority and a clear amount of responsibility for your work. Forcing yourself or your employees to work harder will never work if there is no freedom provided for you or them to own the work.

That’s why the current model of extrinsic motivation in the workforce failed miserably. This is the tendency to force people to work with a sweeter carrot or a sharper knife.

  1. Complexity

If the deal is to do nothing for five years for a million dollars, most people will go insane before they get their hands on the money.

Overly simple and easy work will break us, just like overly difficult work. For us to consider our work as something that matters, it has to come with the right balance of complexity. It needs to make us feel challenged and engaged at the same time.

  1. The clear connection between effort and reward

This part is easily understood by most people. The connection between the input—time, energy, money—and the reward—money, reputation, recognition—has to be clear and at least predictable. No one wants to spend their entire life working on something that neither makes them money or makes them feel good.

When we see our work as something meaningful, it becomes effortless for us to feel motivated and to want to hustle harder for it. Hard work is a prison sentence only if the work has no meaning to you. Once it does, it becomes a thing that drives you forward without you noticing.

Old set in your ways belief:

Work is not supposed to be enjoyable; that’s why they call it work.

New set in your ways belief:

Enjoyment is a guide to finding the right work for you

compass on white map surrounded dried leaves

Finding your way

In part three of my CREATE programme titled ‘Experiment’ I help my clients to “finding their way”:

Wayfinding is the ancient art of figuring out where you are going when you don’t actually know your destination. For wayfinding, you need a compass, and you need a direction. Not a map – a direction.

The map is not the territory. A map can never be completely accurate – it is not an exact copy of the real situation, so your map will always be different to someone else’s map. Since there’s no one destination in life, you can’t put your goal into a GPS and get the turn-by-turn directions for how to get there. What you do is pay attention to the clues and follow a direction in front of you and make your best way forward with the tools you have at hand. This reflects how you experience the world through your senses, beliefs and past experience; this is where we often tap into our intuition, our sixth sense. These create your maps of the world in your head, from which you operate and experience the world.

How long have you been in your job? 10,20,30 years? Does it give you enjoyment? Did it ever give you enjoyment? If you could reinvent yourself, follow the joy; what engages and excites you, what brings you alive. What would you do?

It’s estimated over 70 per cent of people are in jobs they do not feel connected to or have any purpose and meaning attached to it.

So, where do we go from here? There’s more to life than being engaged and energized. I want to be doing work I care about that’s important, purposeful and meaningful, which matters to me.

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why in part three in my CREATE programme, we use ‘wayfinding’ to find your compass, your direction, how well your work, your career fits your values and priorities – how coherent your work is with who you are now and what you believe.

You may be at a stage in your life where work is no longer critical, and there are other more important things you want to focus on and achieve with your life. Explore searching for and experimenting with a new direction—reconnection with an earlier interest or passion, challenge old assumptions, to name but a few.

What are you going to explore? Where will your compass be pointing you?

If you would like to explore more about how I can help you reinvent and connect with who you want to be, why not book a 30-minute discovery call with me today if all this call did was to inspire you into action to take one tiny step towards who you want to become would it be worth it?


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Footnotes. Excerpt courtesy

  1. Parts of this article was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell. I first read the story of Louis Borgenicht and the concept of meaningful work in one of his bestselling books Outliers.
  2. Design your life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans