Find Meaning, Purpose, and Challenge in Your Career

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Waterfalll climber“Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old, shared a little of what he is good at doing.” - Quincy Jones

Careers are like roller coasters, they have peaks and valleys, one day you are the King and the next you are the Goat. You are only as good as your last success. In my case I’ve gone from mail room clerk to senior Supply Chain Consultant and there have been plenty of roller coasters and forks in the road.  There are a few underlying themes in my career. I want to be reasonably content in my job (I’m not impressed by people that work 120 hour weeks or walk into cars in the parking lot reading emails). I want to be of service. I’ve always liked to improve things or find the best method. I’m ambitious and my ambition is driven by wanting to be in control. I’ve taken risks. I like people and want to collaborate with them. I want a high level of meaning and purpose. I love sharing information (hence this article).

How do you find meaning and purpose? Some people work to live and others live to work. In my case I don’t want to just work to live. I’m curious and always want to improve. And since I’m usually working eight hours a day I definitely want those eight working hours to be interesting! I think the first question you should ask yourself is if your work provides meaning and purpose to you. Are you a technical or more a people person? Are you improving people’s lives?  Do you find the problems interesting? Are your clients or co-workers easy to collaborate with? Will you find meaning in changing beds or cleaning dishes (many people do)? Do you work to live or live to work? Without this foundation of questions I don’t think you can ever find a truly interesting career.

Do you want to lead or follow?  Following is easy. Leading is a whole new ball game. Being the leader means being able to motivate, and inspire your employees while satisfying the demands of your superiors or strategic direction of the company. And being very good technically does not automatically make you a good leader. It’s a big decision in a career and one that has to be carefully thought out. I’ve had some horrifically bad bosses and even leaders of countries can be just plain evil.  I hope you want to be a leader that is respectful, motivating and brings out the best in people.

Do you want to take risks? Taking (calculated) risks is the single most important trait you need to have in order to advance your career. When I switched from the Aerospace industry to Pharmaceutical I had to pass an interview with two senior Vice Presidents, then learn the industry and how the Supply Chain and IT functioned in an extremely short period of time. It was a huge risk, but ultimately very satisfying and a tremendous learning experience. I also preferred drugs to airplanes. Doesn’t everybody? If an opportunity presents itself and it meets most of the criteria I’ve explained above then take a risk and go for it!

In the end you will never be eternally happy in your career there will always be bumps and turbulence. If you can find some meaning and purpose, interesting challenges and spots of joy (with others as well) you will retire satisfied that you have provided good services to mankind.

Isn’t the meaning of life about teaching others and providing a service?

Terry Vermeylen is the founder of My Life Changes and wants you to help you to cultivate new habits to bring infinite joy into your life. Please like and share this article! Oh …and sign up for the newsletter.

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