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Searching for Meaning in a World of Inequality

4-28-15_Searching_for_Meaning (1)By: Mark Guterman

Everywhere, it seems, there is talk about income inequality.  From politicians and economists to pundits and career consultants like me, almost everyone agrees on its negative impact.  This is usually followed by suggested high-level and systemic fixes.  Income inequality is “trending” so strongly that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it becomes one of the most debated issues of the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Though this is obviously of vital concern, more often than not, the issue of  ”psychic” inequality is virtually ignored.  With so much attention on the growing “bifurcation” in our economy, and with so many possible solutions, it is rare that we hear anything about what individuals can do to narrow the psychic gap in their work lives.  So while we wait for macro-solutions to be developed and implemented, what can each of us do?

Take responsibility for your work life.  Regardless of how you feel about your work and the compensation, show up, ready and committed to give your best effort.  And while you are doing that, make sure to think about and plan your future, including identifying what gives meaning to that future and developing the action plans to get you there.

Develop a sense of perspective about your work life.  See the short term for what it is—both in meeting your immediate financial needs and recognizing that what you do now becomes a means to an end.  Keep the bigger picture and longer term in mind at all times and let that view inform your days at work.  This will keep you energized and optimistic more often than not.

Frame your “work story” in ways that are positive and future-focused.

You are the creator of your story.  How you tell it to yourself and others is a choice you get to make.  You can go “negative” or you can choose to frame (or reframe, as needed) the story in a way that makes you feel confident and clear, highlighting what makes you unique and brilliant, and finding ways to build meaning into it.

Recognize that you get to decide what constitutes meaningful work.  Regardless of how much or little money you make, regardless of what others think about your work, you have the authority to determine what gives you meaning.  You then can focus your energy and efforts in that direction.  By doing this, you always have the potential for meaningful work.

We can wait for income inequality to abate or we can get on with our work lives.  Working to fix the former is a good idea and needs a lot of energy and input from all of us.  However, if you don’t also put time and effort into getting on with things, you may wait so long that you actually forget what it is you are here to do.  Best wishes in not forgetting.

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

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