5 Tips On How To Score A Fulfilling Job That Aligns With...

5 Tips On How To Score A Fulfilling Job That Aligns With Your Purpose

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5 Tips On How To Score A Fulfilling Job That Aligns With Your Purpose
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It’s a bitter reality, isn’t it?

You’re dissatisfied with your job, you feel overworked and overloaded, and you’re struggling to maintain balance between your responsibilities and your passions.

You’re not alone. The majority of workers aren’t happy with their jobs, and the numbers aren’t getting any better. You aren’t suddenly discovering new meaning in your work, nor are you magically producing job satisfaction out of mid-air.

You stay in your meaningless, stress-filled job because you believe you have to. Your pressures and responsibilities don’t allow you the freedom to hit the open road and live a life of blissful nomad-ism. After all, where would you be without your health insurance, 401(k), or sick leave?

A glut of information is out there about the new entrepreneur who leaves the corporate world to start a passion-based business. Whether it’s a retail tee shirt company backing a cause, or a small business consulting firm helping companies improve their social media presence. These are wonderful success stories, and it’s worth paying some attention to the possibility that you, too, can carve your own path.

However, starting a business isn’t for everyone. Some people enjoy, even thrive in a corporate environment where opportunity exists for career growth, skills development, and where they can contribute to large-scale projects and initiatives with global reach. Breaking away from this structure isn’t even on their radar.

So how can you; the dedicated, lifelong employee, gain that same level of passion that the new entrepreneur feels? How can you learn to find meaning in your work amidst the chaos and noise of other peoples’ agendas? How can you become one of the few who are not only satisfied with their job, but also flourish and bloom within it?

I will show you just how to do that with these 5 simple tips.

 

1. Forget about building your resumé

Warren Buffett once said that taking a job only because it will look good on your resumé is like saving up sex for when you’re 70.

Witticism aside, he’s right. Why would you continually do things you don’t enjoy for the sole purpose of someday, maybe doing something you like?

All too often, people think that taking a job for the experience is a rite of passage, just like a musician paying her dues before she gets the big break.

It’s nonsense.

Instead, take an inward-facing approach when assessing a new job opportunity or re-evaluating your current job. Ask these critical questions:

  • Do I believe in this work?
  • Am I motivated to learn more?
  • Does this company’s mission align with my own?

If you’re struggling to find meaning in your job or are dissatisfied with your career direction, start by looking at yourself first. Ask questions that get to the root of why you might feel stuck. Don’t be afraid to make a change, even if that means a less “impressive” resumé.

 

5 Tips On How To Score A Fulfilling Job That Aligns With Your Purpose

2. Hone in on what lights you up

You can, however, use your resumé as a tool to figure out some ways you can break out of the dissatisfaction cycle.

Look back at all of your previous work experiences and note times when you were:

  • Fulfilled
  • Unfulfilled
  • Passionate
  • Bored
  • Challenged
  • Resistant
  • Motivated
  • Distracted

You should be able to identify themes and patterns within this framework that highlight activities that best align with your personal mission and your overarching purpose. You’ll also see which types of work to reduce or eliminate. Put these experiences into two lists: Do more of and Do less of.

Once you have a “Do more of” list that suits you, further refine it by looking at each of those experiences and responsibilities through the following filters:

  • Was I truly happy when I worked on this?
  • Did this work feel meaningful to me?

Some of your experiences might end up in the middle; somewhat happy, marginally meaningful. That’s okay. The point is to enable you to understand the kind of work that lights you up; work you can rally behind and work that feels right.

You may need to look beyond the job description to answer these questions. Intangibles like values alignment and corporate culture also matter, and they may help you determine what kinds of jobs and environments best fit you.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

3. Define what you really want

Sometimes your experiences won’t shed much light on what matters to you the most. You may have followed the well-worn path of taking job after job based on how good they’d look on your resumé, and your list from above is full of experiences that left you unfulfilled, bored, and distracted.

At this point, you’ll need to dig deep to find answers. Play a little “what if” game:

  • What if money weren’t an issue? If I could do anything, what would I choose to do?
  • What if I could find work that fits my unique talents and strengths? Could I create a job description that captures them perfectly?
  • What if someone right now is doing exactly what I want to do? Who are they? Can I find them and talk to them?

By answering these questions, you’ll have a great chance of solidifying what you really want out of your job and your career. You can then take this new found awareness and apply it to your current situation. Whether you’re job hunting, evaluating a job offer, or trying to find ways to inject more meaning into your current role.

 

4. Get used to discomfort

Change happens at the intersection of discomfort and intention. It may be uncomfortable to become an active participant in your own life and make difficult choices that others may not agree with, but what’s the alternative? Do you really want to wait for a chance; a possibility you may find fulfillment somewhere out there?

Take a step back and look objectively at your life. Have you been reacting to what’s placed in front of you, or are you strategically directing the actions you take?

If you’re part of the unfulfilled and dissatisfied majority, think hard about this. Carefully examine how you categorized each of your work experiences, and pay particular attention to the themes and patterns you saw. Have you been living a predominantly passionate and challenged life? Or has yours been more unfulfilled and resistant?

You’re the only one who can change those patterns. So take the first step.

 “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey

5. Take ownership of your choices

It’s easy to get stuck on the career roller coaster. You’re caught between what other people think is best for you and what you really want to accomplish. Often, you choose the path of least resistance because you’re tired of working so hard to defend your beliefs.

Your choices are yours alone, so own them. You have the power to direct the course of your life by figuring out what you truly want and devising a strategy to take you there.

Decide that you no longer wish to settle for meaningless work. Actively design a working life that aligns your purpose with your paycheck. Become someone others look up to as a model of career fulfillment.

Are you ready to be that person or will you keep waiting for your big break? The choice is yours to make.

 

What tips would you add to this list that have helped you find what path was right for you?
Scott L. Sind is on a mission is to help burned-out employees and business owners build a life that enables them to do meaningful, rewarding work they truly love. He's the author of ActivateThought.com, where he writes about leadership, success, creativity, and professional development. Get his free Cheat Sheet for Building a Powerful Support Network for quick tips on expanding your influence.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Great process for figuring out what matters. What matters most to me is how much money they pay me.

    I’ve created the ideal situation of independence and corporate for me. I’m a company of one I work on a project basis, which are usually 6 months. If things suck at one gig, I know its only 6 months.

    Getting to this place happened by accident rather than by deliberate thought.

    The bottom line for me though is the money. There is nothing quite like seeing an offer in writing for an insane amount of money that makes you sick. Getting that first pay and seeing it in the bank, yeah, that’s what give me my thrills.

  2. The corporate world can indeed be incredibly fascinating! It has taught me sooo much and I am forever grateful for that. But you’re right, it’s easy to get a little lost in it all and it’s good advice to stay on your toes and watch out for yourself and your happiness along the way. Good stuff, Scott!

  3. I wish I would have thought about my career choices in this way many years ago, Scott. I’m going to try actually writing a job description that captures my strengths and talents and see where that takes me! 🙂

  4. Great post Scott – I especially agree with number 5 – it wasn’t until I really took ownership of my choices and realised that I had the power myself to change the situation, rather than waiting for others, that I took the leap and left my corporate role for a more portfolio career. Even if it’s between a rock and a hard place, there’s still a choice! Thanks, Ellen

    • Thanks Ellen! For me that’s the big one as well. I decided that if I failed, at least it wouldn’t have been because I didn’t try. We all have choices, but it’s the ones we don’t take that haunt us the most.

  5. Great article Scott. Like Cherryl (above) I too wish I’d had this perspective earlier in my career. Do you think there’s a generational shift towards aligning your paycheck with your purpose? That certainly appears to be my observation.

    • Hi Helen! Yes, I definitely see a shift, especially with the Millennials. There’s more emphasis these days on portfolio careers rather than single-track careers. And with more and more people staying in jobs on average of 3 years, purpose and passion have become core values for job satisfaction.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. This is the way to success Scott. Being happy = success. You touched on many areas that people forget about. Kudos for a great read.
    Elle

  7. I think you nailed. Defining what you want and going after it with tenacity are the keys to getting what you want, but you MUST have a clear vision on what you are doing now and what you plan to do. I think it is crazy that people get jobs just so that it can look good on their resume, you must find work that you believe in a can get the most from the experience. When you are motivated in your work, you learn and do more than you ever thought you would. This would shoot you to the top faster. You are right, you have the power to take control of your choices and actions, so align what you love to do with your paycheck.

    • Thanks Lawrence! I completely agree that you must have a clear vision. That’s where it all starts. Unforunately some of us have a difficult time aligning our actions and choices to our vision, which then bogs us down under the consequences of sub-optial decisions.

      I like what you said about finding work that you believe can give you a valuable experience—that’s another part of a great career strategy 🙂

  8. Hey Scott! Nice post. I like your #5: I hear lot’s of people saying that they don’t have the choice. The truth is, once we realize it, we always have a choice. And taking 100% responsibility for our choices is the first move towards success. You ask us for another tip. Tip #6: Take action NOW. Make a list of your dream jobs and start acting 🙂

    • Hey Valerie – LOVE IT!! Take action now is probably the simplest yet most effective tip. One can plan forever and never take that first step.

      Thanks for adding your voice!

  9. Hi, Scott, what a wonderfully written and inspiring article! If only I’d gotten this advice when I just got out of college! How life would’ve turned out differently. I hope that your article gets disseminated widely and as many people as possible can read and benefit from your sage advice!

    • Thank you Cherryl! I wish I had this advice too way back when! It’s funny how easily we resign ourselves to the “easy” path because we don’t really know how to do anything else. I do hope that this inspires at least one person to jump out of their comfort zone and design a working life they love.

      Appreciate you stopping by!

  10. Hi Scott,

    I love the concept of aligning my paycheck with my purpose! So clearly put, and so compelling.

    Thanks for sharing your advice about how to do that.

  11. I’m just going to say this:

    When I graduated from a top MBA program in 2012, the anxiety and fear of the future was palpable on campus.

    Most people had taken on massive debt burdens, to finance their “gamble” of improving their career prospects with another piece of paper. The MBA degree.

    I’d say 95% of them were completely bought in to the idea of having as many “gold stars” on their resumes as humanly possible. They worked themselves to the bone to land the best internships, get the highest grades and pretend to be actively involved in as many on-campus clubs and associations. I saw through the noise, as I knew my path would be different.

    I see it all about skill building, and finding that unique intersection of what turns you on as a person, with what other people value enough to pay for.

    Is it an overnight process? HELL NO. Tons of trial and error, periods of self doubt and wondering if you made the right decision.

    But, when the wins inevitably come, as they have for me, the struggle you’ve gone through makes it that much sweeter.

    And yes, this path is NOT for everyone.

    But it is for me. And it sounds like it is for you, as well. =)

    • Mike you nailed it here. I, too, recently got my MBA from a top program, but for very personal reasons, the least of which was the degree itself. Many others in my cohort, though, were there for the piece of paper only, and so they could add the letters to their business cards.

      I gave up prestige a long time ago. Yes, I’ve made bad decisions when it’s come to my work, taken the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons. But you’re absolutely right when you say that when the wins do come, the struggles make them so much sweeter.

      I applaud you on the path you’ve chosen—you have a spirit and fortitude that many don’t, and those will see you a long way 🙂

  12. Very nice post Scott. Another major imagined hurdle for not doing it is i feel afraid of the thought “What if i get bored after some days” , what do i do then! Won’t i loose the kind of stability (though boring) ….These are the kind of limiting belief(s) that hold me back.
    it would be great if you can comment about this kind of fears.

    • Hi Sameer, thanks for the comment! As to the fear of getting bored, well…usually when we feel bored it’s because we’ve reached a plateau and aren’t challenged anymore by the work. I’d suggest that the best way to beat boredom is to consistently strive for new heights, keep challenging yourself, and do things that are just outside of your comfort zone. That may mean a new job or career, but it could also mean going freelance, starting a business, or if you don’t have the enterpreneurial spirit, moving into an industry you have no experience in and “starting over.”

      Boredom is just a mental state, and we have full control over how we react to it. I hope this helps!

  13. You’re right, it’s much easier for us to stick to the safe, well-worn path even if it’s boring and uninspiring. I’d much rather say “I’m so glad I tried that!” instead of “I wish I could do that.”

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting John!

  14. Love #1!! “Look at yourself first…” So true. Wish we could stop focusing so much on resume building, and instead, place more weight on experiences we enjoy, and benefit, from. Great post!

    • Thanks Ashley! When I interviewed people, I rarely discussed their resume. I wanted to know what made the candidates tick, what lit them up, to get a sense of who they were, their likes and dislikes, etc. Most of the time the candidate with the “strongest” resume (i.e. filled with keywords and fluffy job titles) bombed these conversational moments. Not saying there’s scientific proof of anything, just my observations 😉

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