Your desire for meaning in your career may lead you on a path that includes confusion, sacrifice, loss, and surrender. And, it will suck when you have those experiences.
Like me, you may have seen a ton of TV and movie portrayals of negative job experiences and have had your own unpleasant career incidents. You may have also read articles about how most people are not happy in their jobs and have found yourself in conversations with family and friends who repeat their own stories of job dissatisfaction.
If you’ve felt discouraged because of the insidious and accepted theme of work discontent and have felt like giving up on the idea of professional work that’s meaningful to you, you’re not alone…
…and, DON’T GIVE UP!
Know Your Career Meaning Cause is Worthy
Also, like me, you may have felt a light inside of you that won’t go out and that refuses to give up on the notion and vision of a working life that makes sense and allows you to express who you are, while contributing to the realization of a larger goal of service. And, although you may need to rest for a while due to frustration and weariness, you’ll find a way to keeping walking the path of career meaning the best way you can.
Know that I and others are walking this path with you and will battle on! Why? Because the creation of a world where people spend most of their days enjoying their work (for the most part), while making a difference, is a worthy cause.
Recognize Obstacles on a Career Meaning Path
- Isn’t what you thought it would be
- Doesn’t match your personality
- Will not lead to where you want to go
- Involves working with personality types that are not a match for you
- Is too limiting and you’ve outgrown it
- Isn’t the right industry or service area
- Isn’t in the right geographical location for your overall well-being
…and the list goes on…
At this point in my career, I’ve encountered every one of the obstacles listed and more. I can say that with professional experience and maturity, you’ll be able to handle the challenges on your professional path more skillfully. You’ll learn, hopefully more quickly than I, what type of people and work environments work best for you.
But, because you’re always evolving, some obstacles will repeat. You’ll be confronted with need to create new opportunities in your career again and again.
Protect Your Sanity in a Career Meaning Desert
We still seem to live in a society where enjoying your work is a rare phenomenon. So, in this current desolate landscape, you’ll find that certain people and tools will be invaluable on your trek to create meaning in your career. Here are a few recommendations based on the hard won boons of wisdom gained from my own journey:
Keep a journal of your professional experiences
Document what works and what doesn’t work early in and throughout your career and look for patterns and connections. Keeping a journal is essential, especially during challenging times.
Seek and access knowledge to expand your professional understanding and vision
Take time to reflect and identify the knowledge you need to create a professional path that inspires you. Sometimes, you’ll need self-knowledge that can be gained from personality tests or from getting direct feedback from others. Sometimes, you’ll need mentorship to determine how to best develop on your path. Sometimes, you’ll need multiple tracks of knowledge or someone to help you get clear on what you need and what your best next steps might be.
Develop a mindset of trust and faith
You may need to leave a well-paying job or several well-paying jobs that are not a fit whether it’s the work itself, or not the right people fit, or you’ve outgrown the situation in some way. Making the choice to move on is scary and needs to be well-thought out and planned out to the best of your ability. The price of staying in an unworkable situation, in terms of the painful impacts on your physical, mental, and social health, is simply not worth it. Trust that there are other positions and other people with whom to contribute and have faith to take action in their direction.
Know that we battle on together for a better work future
I’ve read several articles that spotlight the fact that the Gen-Y/Millennial generation gives more focus on and priority to having “meaningful” careers. Millennials seem more inclined to let go of ego-driven games that focus on authoritarian pursuits like power, money, and control.
Recently, I learned that there’s a label for those folks who inhabit an experience that contains elements of both the Gen X and Gen Y perspectives: Xennials. And, learning about the Xennial classification was super cool to me because I believe that people around my age are a bridge between perspectives. We have depth knowledge of and experience with the “old school” and the “new school.”
The Millennial/Xennial generational desire, freedom, and ability to create meaning in career signifies a relatively new chapter in our evolution. And, you and I are helping write this new chapter right now with our beliefs and each professional decision we make.
So, one vital question for all of us is: “How will you demonstrate that meaning is important in your career and in the careers of others?”
Often the battle is with overcoming your own fears, helping end the tyranny of how things have always been, and staying committed to your vision. Are you with me?
Would love to read and respond to your comments!
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net: Ambro (tired business woman), Stuart Miles (new job smartphone), and photostock (woman with red boxing gloves)