Is it just something you do to pay the mortgage or is it something more?
Hopefully, you believe it’s something more. But if you feel you’re stagnating and your job doesn’t feel important or worthwhile, it could be because your career lacks a sense of purpose.
How did you get here?
Well, maybe you chose your career because you were attracted by the income, holiday allowance, status or security but found these perks don’t compensate for actually enjoying your job. Or maybe you chose a career you thought you'd enjoy but instead reality hasn’t lived up to expectations. Perhaps you chose your career to please your parents or teachers rather than yourself – or maybe because you didn’t know what you wanted anyway.
The problem is that however you got to this point, you’re feeling demotivated, uninspired and potentially just downright miserable.
And here’s the kicker…
If you don’t enjoy your job or feel a sense of purpose in doing it, you’ll find it difficult to make progress. So on top of everything else, your career is stagnating too.
Therefore it’s probably time to discover – or create – a sense of purpose in your work. Having a sense of purpose may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, but if your job is joyless you need to make a change as soon as possible.
There are many benefits to having a career purpose. First, it will inspire you to do and be more in your job, which will light you up and make your life come alive. You’ll make more progress in your career too, because you’re engaged and interested in what you’re doing. In fact, being fully engaged in your work will lead to more opportunities for progression than any amount of sheer hard work alone.
But can you create career purpose and if you can, how do you do it? From where you’re standing, it looks as if it’s a bonus; something a few lucky people have but most don’t.
That’s not the case though. Because while it’s true some people may have been lucky to find a career they enjoy from the start, it could also be they quickly learned how to adjust their career to make it more purposeful and enjoyable for themselves.
That’s an important point.
Because if a fulfilling career is something you can create, it means you too can make changes so you too can love your job.
So let’s start looking at what having career purpose gives you and how you create it for yourself.
When work feel purposeless, it’s difficult to believe you could ever enjoy doing it. That’s because you feel empty inside and out of touch with your own desires and dreams. What's worse, nothing will change until you get back in touch with your soul.
Putting the words ‘soul’ and ‘career’ in the same sentence probably sounds like a bit of a bad joke when you’re feeling cut off from yourself. In fact, you might be tempted to stop reading right now. After all, you want solutions, not psychobabble and airy-fairy ideas.
This is a problem.
Because if you’re scoffing at the very notions of soul or career purpose, it’s probably a sign you’re in a very negative mindset – and that’s going to make it difficult for you to change how you feel about your career.
First ask yourself whether you’re willing to open your mind to the possibility of more and better in your working life.
Creating a career purpose isn’t easy if you’ve been brought up to believe the purpose of work is to earn good money and climb the greasy pole rather than enjoy what you do.
It’s also possible you can’t remember ever having a career purpose. Or if you did, your parents, teachers or school careers adviser put you off pursuing it because it didn’t pay well or was hard to get into or they thought you weren’t up to it.
As a result, your true sense of purpose may have been smothered and over time, you just hid it away for fear of being ridiculed or put down.
When your dreams have been crushed, it can be hard to allow yourself to feel that same sense of excitement.
The other reason you may struggle to have any sense of purpose in your work is that you’re stressed and exhausted by your current role. When your job depletes your energy rather than creates it, you lose heart. You also lose touch with who you are and what fires you up. You resort to working only to please others or just get the job done rather than because you care or have any motivation or interest in the work itself.
You could just have a holiday, but that won’t make the problem go away. Because if you’ve been papering over the cracks for a while then it’s time to make a change.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, believes that finding meaning in your career is about focusing on creating something that’s better for others, not just for yourself. So why not, start looking beyond what's good only for you and connecting with a more global energy? You'll see how your work can impact others and make the world a better place.
Fortunately, you don’t need to work for a charity or aim to bring about world peace to gain this sense of purpose. In fact, you can achieve a career purpose by helping people run their business more efficiently, ensuring a banking system is secure for customers and many other ways. Only you know what feels worthwhile and important to you and only you can decide if you feel a sense of purpose in your work.
If you’re feeling demoralised by your career, you might be tempted to jump ship and find something that interests you more. But before you make any big moves, consider whether your current career can deliver the sense of purpose you’re seeking.
Maybe you’ve already done a lot of thinking about your career conundrum ... and got nowhere. If so, then take another approach by relaxing and switching off. This will allow you to access your creative mind.
Research by Professor William Duggan has revealed that the act of worrying blocks the of alpha wave production in the brain. So the brain then produces beta waves instead. These are associated with stress, navel-gazing and negative thought patterns.
To think more creatively and access your intuition rather than your logical mind, ditch all the shoulds, woulds and coulds you’ve been focusing on until now. Abandon restrictive thought patterns so you can gain fresh insights into what you want, what you enjoy and what gives you a sense of purpose.
Ultimately, what you want from your job is a task or series of tasks that generates a sense of fulfilment – a role that feels as if it does more than deliver a pay packet at the end of each month.
That would make work a very different experience, wouldn’t it?
So far, we’ve ascertained that for work to be fulfilling, it needs to have a purpose and give you a sense of purpose. When that happens, you’ll feel far happier at work.
But there’s another element to consider as well, and that’s career progression. Without it, you’ll stagnate.
So happiness at work comes from feeling fulfilled by the work you do each day and making career progress too. These work together to ensure your career stays exciting, which in turn means you gain more fulfilment from what you do. It’s an upward spiral of happiness, fulfilment and progress.
At Career Consultants, we recognise that finding your career purpose is not a linear process. You need to dig a bit deeper if you’re going to get meaningful answers. You need to discover your hidden talents – the ones you don’t acknowledge or have been persuaded to ignore – and figure out what you want. Then you'll learn how to turn that knowledge into a job that’s right for you.
1. Acknowledge what you’ve achieved
Even if you don’t feel fulfilled by your work, don’t dismiss what you’ve achieved so far. Look back at the jobs you’ve done and recall the times you felt most engaged, motivated and inspired to do your best work. If possible, look for opportunities to do more of that work in your current role. It’ll give you a boost and help you escape your rut.
2. Pinpoint what matters to you most
After gaining some experience, you'll have a better sense of what you want – or what you don’t want - from your career. Once you pinpoint this, you’ll find a renewed sense of direction. You may find you want to earn more, have a better work-life balance, do more creative work or take on more challenging projects. Maybe you need to switch from working at the computer all day to spending time with clients or suppliers. Sometimes a simple change can make all the difference to your sense of fulfilment and purpose.
3. Don’t give up
You might be looking at the point you’ve reached and feel it’s too late to make a switch or change how or what you do. But if you keep exploring, you never know what you’ll find. So don’t settle for what you’ve got and don’t give up on finding your career purpose and work that makes you happy.
Once you discover what gives you a sense of purpose, your next objective is finding a career or job that gives you what you want.
This is where getting help professional help can make a huge difference. Because if you want to make a change in your life, you may face all sorts of objections from those around you and from your own conditioning. And if changing a job or career means taking sideways or even downward steps, you may be tempted to err on the side of caution.
It’s also important to remember that when you know what makes you happy, you can find ways to get it more easily. The company you work for may be able to offer you the role you want or you may be able to incorporate particular activities or approaches into your current job.
What’s essential is that you allow yourself to stay in a creative mental space so you can see which opportunities are open to you. And the more you enjoy your job, the more you’ll see chances to gain even more satisfaction from your work.
The result can only be a happier and more successful you. So if you believe happiness at work has eluded you, perhaps now you'll find the motivation and inspiration you need to take that first step towards creating more of what you want in your life and work.
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