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If Finding Meaningful Work is Hard, Go Back to the Beginning

By Mark Guterman

Cheerful Lady Engaged In A Jovial ConversationSometimes the people I work with have “tried everything” to make their work lives more meaningful.  They’ve spent months, even years, in their quest and by the time they start working with me, they are often exhausted, discouraged, and even depressed.

The first thing we do together is explore what they have done and not done, review what has and hasn’t worked, all the while trying to glean the lessons they’ve learned from their efforts.  Perhaps, they’ve recently changed employers, looking for a more “aligned” culture, only to discover they’ve gone from frying pan to fire. Or perhaps the project they were so excited about has been defunded and they’ve been stymied in trying to find its replacement.

After this review, it is very possible that they have indeed tried everything.  Rather than giving them the “hang in there” pep talk or trying to bolster their spirits with “something good will happen soon,” it often makes sense to go back to the beginning and start the process anew.  This might entail any or all of the following:

  • Assess strengths, values, interests, and preferred work environments.
  • Create a picture (vision) of “future perfect.”
  • Research possibilities to determine how realistic and feasible the vision is.
  • Identify gaps between the vision and reality, making necessary adjustments and creating a development plan.
  • Develop a goal statement and practice the “elevator” pitch.
  • Develop target lists of work possibilities and people to connect with.
  • Practice active networking.

In addition to these steps, most likely an “attitude adjustment” is needed.  This means encouraging clients to see the process as if it were being done for the first time and helping them to recognize that their past efforts were “meaningful” in and of themselves.   It also entails putting any negative thoughts into the background and bringing hope, possibility, and enthusiasm into the foreground.  Sometimes, going back to the beginning is the way to find meaningful work.

MeaningfulCareers.com was created by Mark Guterman and Dan King, two guys with a shared commitment to the power of meaningful work.  They help professionals find greater meaning in their careers, lead happier, more satisfying lives, and instill lasting value through their work.  For more information and resources visit:  http://meaningfulcareers.com

Image courtesy of stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net


2 Comments » for If Finding Meaningful Work is Hard, Go Back to the Beginning
  1. Dan & Mark Great Newsletter! I liked both articles, having two dogs I appreciated the message of Dog days. I think too we can learn a lot about being authentic from them. (One of mine tried to climb a tree yesterday and made it to six feet – a squirrel was taunting her).
    I hope you are having a good summer. I am giving myself permission to be lazy
    Best wishes,

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