How to find fulfilling work is a real issue for us. Work itself is a core dimension of our humanity. We are designed for productivity. Adam was placed in the Garden to cultivate it … we, too, are designed to cultivate things, releasing the potential of some aspect of creation.
Here’s the key—discovering fulfilling work is a process of discovering our authentic selves. And as we know ourselves, we’re more apt to discover our place in the world.
This happens through an intentional life process which takes time and effort. But it’s clearly worth it on a number of important levels including our well-being and relationships.
Invest 5 minutes in this video by The School of Life. It can motivate us to think accurately about this pathway of discovering who we truly are and the highest work we should be doing.
Then I have several thoughts about the pursuit … the need to “know yourself” … trying lots of things … and solving problems.
There’s joy in the pursuit
The word career can be traced to the mid 16th century where the meaning was a road or racecourse. The Latin source word means a wheeled vehicle. Experiencing fulfilling work is a journey … a destination which we pursue.
Each of us has a unique race to run. Are we willing to create the new maps necessary for our journey? Or will we just use maps we’ve been handed?
It’s probably not something we authentically know when we are 16, 18, or 22. Did our “unknowing 16 year-old self” understand our highest work? It would be rare indeed. The journey takes some life experience and maturity.
Q4U — Have you seen this issue as a pathway of discovery? As never before, there are seasons of work in our lives. It’s common today to experience 3, 4, or even more careers in a lifetime.
Get all Greeky — “Know yourself”
This maxim is traced to ancient Greek culture. What are your tastes and inclinations? As a child, adolescent, and into adulthood, you’ve had glimpses and faint sounds about your unique contribution.
Money is important, but it’s not the consummate concern. (Our overly commercialized culture would like to tell us it’s about money and the material things which can be sold to us!) Connect more deeply with your authentic, passionate self. That’s where the sustained joy will be.
Take time to reflect and think. It’s vital. Many have climbed some type of ladder in their pursuits, only to realize it was leaning against the wrong building. If we don’t invest time in this, tragically we may find ourselves at the end of our lives with regret. That’s an extreme price to pay.
Q4U — Would you like to “know yourself” better? What can you do to break free from the routine, taking the time to become more accurate about who you are?
Increase life data by trying lots of things
We get “life data” from different experiences in life. This can happen through paid work. We can also get good experience through shadowing, interning, volunteering, and studying.
I’m not saying to waste time. Yet we do need sufficient information to help us make quality life decisions. If we’re deficient in experiences, we can waste time over the longer arc of our lives.
Let’s consistently explore our future by pursuing projects on the side of current paid work. Are you thirsty for new experiences? Through experiences we will become more accurate about what we should and should not be doing. Yes, we need some amusement to relax. But we will not build valuable experience if we engage in too much passive activity.
Increasing our life data will position us to discover the golden pathway we long for. Look for these indicators that you are on the right path.
Q4U — What about building up experiences? You can start doing something new this evening. How can you change your daily and weekly schedule to create space for new experiences? (Think about television and your smart phone!)
Solve problems and make people happy
Work is serving. If you start and sustain a successful business, it’s because you are solving somebody’s problems and making them happy. Stop solving problems and making people happy … and soon your business will dry up.
If you don’t own your own business, you work for someone or a company which is solving problems and serving others.
You may say, “I work for the government.” Well, the government exists to serve the citizens. And the government is only sustained financially by those who work for value-creating businesses. It’s the same in the non-profit sector.
If you serve more people, creating and multiplying more value, you position yourself for increased wealth creation, personally or as a company.
Q4U — What problems would you like to work on? You probably have some sense of those things you can do which make people happy. What are they? Start there.
Ready to dig deeper?
Explore The Noble Heart … “The life you are to live and what you are to do is written on your heart! Your life is weighty, consequential and needed!”
Explore 48 Days … “Our mission is to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, to help people find their calling and true path.”
Related on TrueNorth Quest:
Breaking the Spell and Discovering the True You — use the 3 coordinates that guide us: story, desire, and journey.
Becoming Entrepreneurial in Life, Work, and Ministry — what entrepreneurial traits do you need to build into your life and work?
Thoughts? Experiences or resources to share? Drop them in the section below.