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Toward the Unknowable Future

thBy: Mark Guterman

If you were the wisest person on the planet regarding work, jobs, and careers, what would you be telling people who are wrestling with the challenges in finding meaningful work?  If you knew the answers to what someone should do with their work lives to feel fulfilled and successful on their terms, what would you advise them to do?  If you had a crystal ball that could predict the future with a high degree of certainty, how would you guide people (yourself included) on the steps needed to achieve their most cherished goals?

Each of these questions is predicated on the idea that the future is knowable and controllable.  As we know all too well, both of these ideas are lovely in the abstract, but nearly useless as we navigate our way into the future.  Instead, you will more likely find meaning and satisfaction in the following ways:

  • Recognize, articulate, and share what makes you unique and brilliant and look for ways to put that front and center as you make your way in the world. Craft this story as the deepest expression of who you are, what you want, and how it makes a real and lasting contribution in the world.
  • Be mindful about how you think, decide, and act. By paying attention to yourself and the moves you make, you improve the likelihood of making wise choices, which in turn ups the odds of creating a meaningful work life.
  • Develop a learner’s mindset and always be curious and willing to experiment. Yes, this brings up fear, anxiety, and hesitation. However, your willingness to step out of your comfort zone regularly to take intelligent risks opens up new possibilities and releases energy that otherwise remains untapped.
  • Trust the process. This simple prescription, difficult for most of us to practice consistently, is ultimately the best way to find a meaningful work life.  It is a reminder that in spite of setbacks, wrong turns, or seemingly insurmountable challenges, by staying on the path and continuing to take steps, meaningful work is possible and achievable.

The future is inevitable and we each have the ability to create a meaningful work life. We may find the way forward relatively easy and painless or it may be fraught with difficulty.  It’s not ours to decide which it will be; it is ours to get on with the journey, doing the best we can each step along the way, and making our future as meaningful as possible.


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