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Find meaning in your career

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


So what is meaning in your career? Some ideas include: something that makes your heart sing, being part of something bigger, feel-say-do, in sync, feeling motivated, knowing your purpose, using your unique gifts, doing something because you want to do it, free from your own expectations, free from other people’s expectations, using your strengths.


A good place to start is to remind ourselves why we do the work we do. In our society, we often get bogged down with the details of what we do and focus less on how and why we do it. Simon Sinek’s thought-provoking, inspiring Ted Talk “Start With Why” explains how great leaders inspire action by focusing on Why they do things, rather than What they do.


I recently coached a teacher who wants to embed coaching skills into his school (the What), his Why is to make the school a better place. There’s also the famous story of the NASA janitor who when asked what he does, replied, “I help send people to the moon”.

When I worked in recruitment, I could easily get bogged down in billing fees (the What), fortunately, I had a manager who coached me on my Why, which was to change people’s lives by helping them into new roles. It helped me make meaning of the work I was doing.


In addition, when we start thinking of our Why, other options that we hadn’t thought of before begin to open up. One of the participants at the workshop who currently works in banking got back in touch with Why he first went into his role, which was to develop himself and others. He had gotten lost in his What’s of report writing etc. One action he went away with was to speak to his boss about a team development initiative that had been mentioned and to find out how he could get more involved.


What about if you haven’t discovered your Why yet?

Our Why is much broader than our career, so if we try to understand what our purpose is at a higher level, then we can align our careers with it. I like an article by Daniela Naido “A Simple Yet Difficult Exercise” to find the "why" to our existence. In it she talks about how she found her meaning by asking herself the following questions:

  • At what times in your life have you been the happiest?

  • What were you doing during those times that made you feel so happy?

  • What events, people, or activities get you the most excited, or give you the most satisfaction?

  • What topics are you always able to discuss with genuine enthusiasm, without ever getting bored?

  • What are you doing when you feel the most useful? The most needed? The most appreciated?

  • When do you feel the best about yourself and your contributions?

She says “answering all these questions may not be easy. It took me a lot of honest, in-depth analysis as well as a lot of time to find my answers. But once I was able to find the answers, my ‘why’ became clear to me. As a result, not only did it become much easier for me to set personal goals, but more importantly I was able to start following through and achieving them as well.”


One-to-one coaching can help you find your Why. So get in contact for a free complimentary session.



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