Finding meaning in your work

The reality of the world is that a man’s worth is defined by his work.  Every man knows this on the inside, many are prepared to admit it.  Some are prepared to act on it.  Few know how to figure it out. 

I believe there are four types of work out there for a man. Each sits on a continuum which measures the value of contribution from the work, against the level of interest the man has in his work. Let’s break them down.

Doing boring work, that contributes nothing of meaning to you

If this is you, you have ‘Just a Job’. That isn’t bad in itself. This is where the majority of men sit. Men have to do what you have to do and bringing in the paycheck is nothing to be scoffed at. But, sitting here you will not feel fulfilled.

Doing fun interesting work, that contributes nothing of meaning to you

If this is you, you likely have a hobby. I was lucky enough to work as a Scuba Diving Instructor for a while. I also captained a Dolphin Watching boat. They were really fun jobs, and really interesting. But, to me, they didn’t allow me to contribute in the way I wanted them to, because they weren’t challenging. they were hobbies, and I got paid accordingly.

Doing uninteresting work, that contributes significantly to something of meaning to you

If this is you, you likely have a duty. You’re feeling of obligation likely outweighs your feeling of drive and passion. You’re doing what you are doing because you feel you have to, not because you want to. It leads to burnout and eventual resentment for your cause.

Doing interesting work, that contributes significantly to something of meaning to you

If you’re here, you’re in your calling. This is where you can find the deepest level of drive and ambition to achieve. This is where you will reach your flow state in your work; where time can pass in the blink of an eye because you are so into it, and when you come home at night you feel completely fulfilled and you bounce out of bed in the morning to get after it again.

Making the Change

This is the topic of many hundreds of books out there and the centre of thinking for many career coaches. While they all seek to lead to the same place, they can all offer a different method to get there. I have read many of the books, and attended many of the courses to me, the simplest pathway goes like this.

Step One: Identify what is meaningful to you

This can be as simple of sitting down and thinking hard about what you are passionate about. What gets you fired up inside? Or, it can be deeper. For those that need or want the deeper exploration, you can take a 5-why’s approach with a counterpart. I’ll cover this in another blog post.

Step Two: Map out your interests

Again, for some people this can be really simple because they are clear on what spins their wheels. For others, it can be a total blank. If you need the deeper exploration on this, a temporal mapping approach can be really helpful. Again, I’ll cover this in another post.

Step Three: Correlate the two to define your work

If you take a look at the image at the top of this page you’ll see what I mean by this. And you’ll see the green area which broadens as you sift up through the levels. The trick is in finding the balance between the two.

Importantly, you should not think about ‘a job’. That’s a red herring. Think about the work. What tasks will you actually be doing. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t exist. You can create it and if it really is your calling, you will find a way.

Hopefully that’s some good food for thought. I’ll build on this in some later posts.

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