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The power of your purpose: how to create a meaningful job

Written by Nuskha Semaun on 7 March 2023 for Professionals

While previous generations valued a stable and reliable income, Millennials and Gen Z value purpose over a paycheck. In fact, according to a survey conducted by BetterUp, 9 out of 10 employees would be willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for a more meaningful job. How about you?

What is purpose?

Humans are hard-wired to desire a connection to something bigger. Serving people and making a difference brings meaning to our lives in a way that material rewards can’t. In addition, feeling that your work is meaningful will make you happier and more productive at work. Because happiness leads to success, not the other way around. In fact, research by CIO found that employees who created more meaning in their work, experienced a boost in motivation, loyalty and pride.

Of course, purpose doesn’t need to apply to your job alone. Many people find purpose outside of work, in their close relationships, or in volunteering or hobbies that you’re passionate about. But as we spend the majority of our time at work, it’s important to create purpose there, too.


How do you discover your purpose?

Your goals, values and aspirations are not static – they change over time. The things you find meaningful in your twenties are probably not what you’ll prioritise in your thirties, fourties or even fifties. That’s why it’s important to reflect on your goals and values throughout your career, to make sure what you’re doing still aligns with what you find meaningful.

Maybe you already know what your work values are, but if you’re like most people, you may not have given the matter a lot of thought. If you can’t really name the things that are important to you in a job, here are 3 easy steps to figure that out:

  1. Make a list of potential work values. Examples can be: accountability, flexibility, autonomy, fun, creativity, team spirit, attention to detail, authenticity, balance, recognition, leadership, and so on.
  2. Give every value on your list a rating between 1 and 10. 10 being very important and 1 being completely trivial to you.
  3. Rank your values in order of importance. Use the values with a rating of 5 or above to guide your career.

How do you find purpose in your job?

First of all, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living – whether you’re a neurosurgeon saving lives, or you keep the streets clean as a waste collector, all work has dignity. However, if you’re struggling to find purpose in your work, it can help to change your perspective. As Dr. Wayne Dyer famously said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Chasing your dream job is probably not the best way to go about finding purpose in your work. Chances are, if you’re waiting for the perfect job to present itself, you may be retired before ever finding your purpose. While it’s good to have big dreams and high standards, it’s also important to remember that you can create your own purpose in the job you already have.

6 ways to create purpose in your work

Purpose is largely made up of three elements: feeling connected to something bigger, knowing that your work matters, and understanding how your work affects others. You can find examples of all of these aspects in your current job, all you need to do is look at it the right way. By making it a conscious decision to focus on things that make you happy during your workday, you may improve your perspective on your work environment.

  1. You can find purpose in your job by forming meaningful connections with co-workers.
    Maybe you’ll find someone that makes every work day feel like a party, even if the job itself isn’t entirely perfect.
  2. You can find purpose by helping others or making them feel valued.
    For example, compliment your colleague sincerely on a job well done, or offer help to a co-worker who’s in a jam. Chances are you’ll leave work that day feeling fulfilled, even if it had nothing to do with your actual job. Helping those around you is a great way for creating purpose in your work.
  3. Another great way to create purpose in your career, is by reflecting on your unique talents and finding ways to cultivate those gifts even more.
    Maybe you can even acquire a few new skills – another great way to create purpose in the day-to-day without going on a wild-goose chase to find your perfect, purposeful job.
  4. When you understand what motivates you, you can find ways to incorporate those personal values into your work.
    If giving back to the community is important to you, maybe you can set up an event at your work to raise money for a charity that matters to you. If you value kindness, maybe you can find purpose by greeting everybody in the office with a smile and a kind hello.
  5. When you’re feeling a bit stumped at work, it can help to look at the bigger picture.
    What is your work right now going to mean for your (internal) clients? How will it help people? Even if you think that what you do isn’t very meaningful, it’s important to identify the impact of what you’re doing and remind yourself of that when you’re feeling deflated.
  6. Finally, know that you are not your job. You can find purpose outside of work, and also, you don’t have to stay in this job forever.
    It can help to think about what you want your legacy at your employer to be after you leave. What kind of lasting impression do you want to leave in this company or industry? What would you like to change for the people who come after you? By setting a goal for yourself to leave something meaningful behind when you leave your job, you can create purpose for yourself.

About Exellys

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Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be. Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!