“It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” – Rumi

Finding purpose and meaning in your work can have a big impact on your quality of life and overall happiness.

One benefit of the Great Resignation in recent years is having had a chance to pause and consider what’s important to you. Like most people, you probably considered how much time you were spending:

  • at work
  • with family
  • and with friends.

You may have even reprioritized things based on what you saw.

office chairs meeting room

Work has been one of the most discussed topics since the pandemic started.  How it forced some people to stay at home while others, considered essential, were told to keep going to work.

And while things like staying safe and the quality of health benefits were weighed and considered, there was also a new focus on finding work that held meaning and purpose.

While it sounds logical to want your work to have a purpose, defining it is hard to do.

What job holds meaning and purpose to you?

It’s a personal question – one that no one but you can answer.

winding path among the green grass

Everyone has their own unique experience of life. You can’t follow the path of someone else and hope to enjoy it. You need the courage to forge your own path in creating a life that is meaningful to you.

And as a way of finding purpose in your work.

For some, exploring what holds purpose and meaning might sound like an exciting adventure. For others, it feels scary. Impossible.

In a world that often rewards people who “fit in,” it can feel lonely to define your own path.

You feel like everyone else is going in a different direction.  You start to question where you are and where you’re heading.  You might decide there is safety in numbers, and it’s better to give up your own path for the comfort of belonging to a tribe.

If you want to find more purpose and meaning in your work, two words can help you start this journey: love and success.

Explore what you love.

How you experience anything is unique to you. Whether it’s food, music, colors, seasons, travel, hobbies, or work, your experience will not be like anyone else’s experience. Finding what you love means exploring how you feel about different situations. It means saying I prefer this situation over another and then being able to define why you feel as you do.

This is connected to how you experience the world.

It isn’t about judging something as good or bad. It’s knowing what you like. And then take it even further by naming what you love.

jumping to take a risk

The next step to finding purpose and meaning in your work?

Explore your success.

Once you know what you love, you can begin building a path to success.

One definition of success is “a favorable outcome.” This means what brings you joy. It might be something big like buying a new house or getting a promotion. But success also includes the small things that bring you joy. Maybe it’s walking the dog or reading a book to a child or holding a door open for someone else.

This isn’t what society considers a success. This is what brings YOU joy. It’s the everyday moments that you consider “a favorable outcome.”

Others can name what you’re good at doing. And it’s helpful to know how others value your skills and talents. But go deeper. Do you love doing these things? Is the outcome of your efforts favorable to you?

Maybe you’re getting a nice paycheck but spending your days being miserable. This doesn’t sound like a life that holds meaning and purpose.

Connecting to what YOU love (and consider successful) takes awareness.

If you look back on your day, what were the moments you loved? What resulted in joy?

Collect these moments. Write them down. It’s how you can create more of them. This might feel silly or even selfish. It isn’t. It’s the only way to discover your passion and purpose.

Love and joy are at the core of creating a meaningful career.

compass showing the way

Society will try to tell you what you should love or want. But no one else can possibly know how you feel.

Let go of what other people think.

They have their own list of what they love to do and what brings them joy. Let them chase their own dreams. You need to chase yours when finding purpose and meaning in your work (and life).

Look for the patterns in your life. Find the similarities and common ground. Explore opportunities to do more of the things you love and enjoy. By doing this, you step gradually, courageously, into your purpose.

Creating a fulfilling career starts by connecting to your unique perspective of the world, using awareness to know how you feel in any given moment, and choosing to do more of what brings you joy. All of these things are essential to finding purpose and meaning in your work.