A Complete Guide to Meaningful Work and Enjoying More of it Every Day

A Complete Guide to Meaningful Work and Enjoying More of it Every Day
Photo by Matt Ragland / Unsplash

Feeling satisfied and fulfilled at work has been an awkward goal during my career. Sometimes work satisfaction is like a waterfall, and other times it's like a mirage shimmering far on the horizon that never gets any closer. After working on this for 30 years, I wanted to share what I know about finding meaningful work.

Meaningful work is work that is personally important and satisfying. It is work that aligns with one's values and beliefs and is worthwhile to society.

People who experience meaningful work may feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment in their jobs. They may feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. They may also feel motivated and engaged and have a sense of ownership and responsibility for their tasks and projects. Additionally, meaningful work may provide a sense of connection to others, as it may involve working towards a common goal or contributing to a more significant cause.

Meaningful work can take many forms and can vary from person to person. Some examples of meaningful work may include:

  • Working in a field that helps others, such as teaching, healthcare, or social work.
  • Working in areas that positively impact the environment, such as sustainability, conservation, or renewable energy.
  • Working in an industry allows one to use skills and talents to create something, such as art, music, or writing.
  • Working in an area that will enable one to be innovative and solve problems, such as research or entrepreneurship.
  • Working in an area that allows one to make a difference in their community, such as non-profit work or activism.

It is important to note that meaningful work is subjective and can differ from person to person. Therefore, meaningful work for one person may not be significant for another.

"The best work is not what is most difficult for you, it is what you do best." - Longfellow

Studies on Meaningful Work

Let's go deeper into meaningful work and look at some research studies and surveys on Meaningful Work:

The Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural Map - World Values Survey 7 (2022). Source: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
  1. The World Values Survey is a global research project conducted in over 100 countries. The survey includes questions on meaningful work and has found that people who report having meaningful work are generally more satisfied with their lives.
  2. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is an annual survey that measures well-being in the United States. The survey includes questions on meaningful work and has found that people who report having meaningful work are more likely to be engaged in their jobs and have higher overall well-being.
  3. The Purpose in Life Test is a survey that measures the extent to which people feel their lives have purpose and meaning. The survey has been used in various research studies and is related to well-being and mental health.
"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso

Books on Meaningful Work

Here are a few books on meaningful work that have received positive reviews:

"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl is a classic book on meaning and purpose in life. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, writes about his experiences in concentration camps and how he found meaning in suffering. He also presents his theory of logotherapy, a form of therapy that helps people find meaning in their lives.

"The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better" by Richard J. Leider is a book that explores the concept of purpose and how it can enhance one's life. Leider argues that having a sense of purpose is crucial for well-being and can lead to greater happiness and success.

"Do What You Love, and Other Lies About Success and Happiness" by Miya Tokumitsu critically examines the idea that one should follow their passion for success and happiness. Tokumitsu argues that this idea is harmful and promotes meaningful work unrelated to one's passion or career.

"The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do" by Jeff Goins is a book that helps readers discover their purpose and find meaningful work. Goins provides practical advice and tools for finding fulfilling work aligned with one's values and passions.

Find Meaningful Work

  1. Network and gain experience: Connect with people in your field of interest and try to gain experience through internships, part-time jobs, or volunteering. These experiences can help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to pursue a fulfilling career.
  2. Find a good fit: Look for a company or organization that aligns with your values and offers opportunities for personal and professional growth. Consider company culture, mission, and values when choosing a job or organization to work for.
  3. Be open to trying new things: You may need to try a few different jobs or industries before you find the right fit. Don't be afraid to take risks and try something new. Sometimes, taking a chance on a unique opportunity can lead to the most meaningful work.
  4. Continually reassess and redefine your goals: Your values and interests may change as you gain more experience and knowledge. It's important to periodically reassess your goals and consider whether your current job or career path is still fulfilling. If it's not, don't be afraid to make a change and pursue something new.
"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain

MasterClass on Purpose and Meaning

Our Moonshots Purpose Master Series should be the first step in your journey to more Meaningful work. In the show, we take inspiration from Simon Sinek and a range of experts and leaders, such as Elizabeth Gilbert and Kyle Maynard.

Videos on Meaningful Work

Here are two YouTube videos on meaningful work that are worth watching:

"The Surprising Science of Happiness" by Dan Gilbert is a TED Talk that explores the concept of happiness and how it relates to meaningful work. Gilbert discusses research on happiness and argues that doing meaningful and fulfilling work contributes to happiness.

"The Power of Meaningful Work" by Shawn Achor is a TEDx Talk that discusses the importance of meaningful work and how it can lead to greater happiness and success. In addition, Achor provides practical tips for finding meaningful and fulfilling work.

Courses on Meaningful Work

Many courses on meaningful work are available online or in person. Here are a few examples of courses that may be of interest:

"The Science of Well-Being" is a course offered by Yale University on Coursera. This course explores the science of well-being and provides practical strategies for increasing happiness and finding meaning and purpose in life.

"Designing Your Life" is a course offered by Stanford University that teaches participants how to design a fulfilling and meaningful life. The course is available online through Stanford Lagunita, and it uses design thinking principles to help participants explore their interests and passions and find meaningful and fulfilling work.

Students design their lives in ME 104B

"Life Design Lab" is a course offered by the Life Design Institute that helps participants discover their passions and purpose and find meaningful and fulfilling work. The course is available in-person or online and includes lectures, workshops, and one-on-one coaching.

Apps for Meaningful work

Many apps can help with finding meaningful work or building a fulfilling career. Here are a few examples:

LinkedIn Learning is a platform that offers a wide range of online courses and tutorials on topics such as career development, leadership, and personal growth. In addition, users can access courses on LinkedIn Learning to learn new skills and explore new career paths.

Gain Access To Up-To-Date Content & Expert-Led Courses, On-Demand On Both Desktop & Mobile

Clarity is an app that connects users with coaches and advisors who can help them clarify their goals and identify their passions. Users can book coaching sessions through the app to get advice and guidance on finding meaningful work.

Coach.me is an app that provides access to a network of coaches and advisors who can help users achieve their goals. Users can book coaching sessions through the app to get support and guidance on finding meaningful work or building a fulfilling career.

Asana is a project management app that can help users organize their work and track progress. The app can help find meaning in work by assisting users in setting goals and monitoring their progress towards meaningful projects.

Developing meaningful work in your career can be a challenging and ongoing process, but it can also be gratifying. You can find fulfilling and meaningful work by reflecting on your values and interests, exploring different career options, and being open to trying new things.