The idea that work might be fulfilling, rather than just painfully necessary, is a fairly modern concept. These days we don’t just expect to obtain money through our jobs, we also expect to find meaning and satisfaction. This helps to explain why we often have career crises, often on a Sunday evening!
To help us on the quest for fulfilling work, here are six useful ideas, which are explained in more detail in the video below…
- Accept that being confused is perfectly normal. It is estimated that there are currently around half a million different trades to choose from. Having so many options can make us so anxious about making the wrong choice that we make no choice at all. Confusion is natural and fear is normal.
- Know yourself. It’s one of the oldest philosophical recommendations and it has particular relevance for careers. Most of us don’t have a calling or hear a God-like voice telling us which career path to take. That isn’t to say that we don’t have tastes or inclinations, we just don’t know them well enough. Write down everything you’ve ever enjoyed doing or making with no considerations for money, and you’ll start to get an idea of your ideal working future.
- Think a lot. It could take a year or more of sustained daily reflection to identify a career that fits. We tend to feel guilty about this, imagining we are being self-indulgent. Far from it! We should take as much time as we need to sort out one of the biggest conundrums of our lives. To make sure we don’t continue to spend the rest of our lives trapped in a job unwittingly chosen for us by our unknowing 16 year-old selves, we need to be generous with the amount of time we’ll need to think.
- Try something. It’s tempting to imagine we’ll be able to work out the shape of the workplace and our own characters simply through the process of reflection, but we need data. We can only understand ourselves and others by colliding with the real world, in the process getting to know both it and our own natures. We need to take small non-irrevocable steps to gather information, whether by shadowing or interning or volunteering.
- Reflect on what makes people unhappy. Every successful business is, at heart, an attempt to solve someone else’s problem. The bigger and more urgent the problem, the greater the opportunity. To flex your entrepreneurial muscles, consider and average day and everything in it that might make someone unhappy – from losing the house keys to finding their food a little greasy to arguing with their spouse. Each of these is a business opportunity waiting to be exploited. It’s a chance for us to serve, which is what work really is.
- Be confident. It can be tempting to dismiss this whole topic as nonsense, but in a peculiar and rather humbling way it really does seem as though the difference between success and failure is sometimes nothing more than the courage to give it a go. Many of the top positions simply belong to those who boldly ask for them.