Perhaps like me you chose a major in college or had graduate work in a field that you sort of fell into. It is hard to know exactly what you want when you are 16 or 17 years old. In my day the choices for women were nurse, secretary, or teacher. I chose teacher because I couldn't type and hated the sight of blood.
Today I am a coach and practice advisor not too far from my teaching roots but I have had years to really think what I wanted from my work and how to insure that it was meaningful work.
Are you doing meaningful work? At the beginning of your career of course you are just concerned about supporting yourself and your family. Once those necessities are consistently provided then your thoughts turn elsewhere.
If you are doing a job that makes you ask the question from that old Peggy Lee song, "Is this all there is?" then you are at the beginning of a search for meaningful work.
Since most people work eight hours or more a day, wouldn't it be wonderful if the work was nourishing rather than boring or depressing. Meaningful works keeps you happy and engaged.
So what is meaningful work for you? Like the word "success" you will have to define it for yourself. I think however there are three characteristics you can look for that might help you to define it for yourself.
The first characteristic is that it doesn't feel like work. With meaningful work you get so involved in it that time passes without your being aware of it. The result of your work at this point is less important than doing the work. The work is compelling.
An example of this is that one chorister in the choir I am in said to me that she loved practicing in the rehearsals so much that she didn't need the performance to feel satisfied. With meaningful work you are not just focused on the result but everything that leads to it too.
Another characteristic of meaningful work is that you recognize its importance and others will too. Your vision of the work is the key here. It must inspire you. If you don't believe in the work you are doing, no one will.
If that belief is strong enough, then it won't matter what other's think. With that inspiring vision though you will attract others who share it and they will give you positive feedback which will energize you even more.
Finally for work to be meaningful you must look at it in a broader context to see that you are making a contribution to society as a whole. The work isn't just about you but about making life better for others.
In his letter to his daughters entitled "What I Want for You And Every Child in America" published in "Parade Magazine" on January 18, 2009 then President-elect Barack Obama said, "it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential."
Isn't that what we truly want for ourselves and everyone who inhabits this planet? What a world this would be if everyone was working toward the greater good, finding purpose and pleasure in what he/she contributed and realizing their own true potential!
It is my hope that you will recommit to finding meaning in the work that you do now or find a new career that is meaningful so that you too can realize your own potential. You are needed!
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor for Attorneys and a Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine with career and business information. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website free monthly publications and receive a free values assessment along with your subscription.