I believe all humans are wired to seek meaningful work. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will do what’s needed to fulfill that pursuit or that some of us don’t accidentally (or in spite of ourselves) find our way to meaning. It is to say that should we choose to pursue a course toward meaningful work, it is available to any and all of us.
Is this easy? Generally, no. Is it quick? Again, generally, no. In fact, the pursuit of meaningful work is for most of us similar in many ways to the hero(ine)’s journey described by Joseph Campbell and others. It requires courage, patience, and discipline, any of which can wane when we are facing the inevitable difficulties and obstacles that accompany this journey. The issue becomes one of how we sustain the pursuit. Below are five key things to keep in mind:
- Take one step at a time, stay in the moment, and don’t get ahead too far ahead of yourself.
- Find support when and where you can and develop the habit of asking for help as needed. Also, do your best to keep negative people and energy at arm’s length.
- Step out of your comfort zone, conducting experiments regularly and often both to break through to new knowledge and connections, but also to develop momentum and that all important habit of continuous learning
- Take care of yourself. You will need all the energy and stamina possible and this journey requires that you be as close on top of your game as possible.
- Most of all: Don’t give up. All things important are usually the result of long and hard journeys and the pursuit of meaningful work is one that will likely require everything you’ve got.
The beauty of this process is that everyone has access to meaningful work and can find meaning if they choose to pursue that path. A lot is required, of course, but the rewards are great. As you move toward meaningful work, you will find yourself healthier, happier, and much more able to add lasting value in the world through your work. The relentless pursuit of meaningful work is well worth the effort.