Career With A Purpose 1.0

Purpose is not inherent in a given task…..

This morning, men and women all over the world got out of bed and prepared for work. Whether that work was in the home, in a high rise corner office, in a village market place on a dirt floor, or perhaps behind a cash register in a busy restaurant, some people found meaning and purpose in their tasks today and some found boredom and frustration.

Dave and Wendy Ulrich, in their book, The WHY of Work, make the point that we humans are “meaning-making machines who find inherent value in making sense out of life. The meaning we make of an experience determines its impact on us.“ How we view an experience determines whether we see opportunity and hope or whether we see boredom and despair.

And in addition to personal value, there is also market value in finding the purpose in our work. Purposeful work solves actual problems and contributes measurable value to customers and investors.

Working men and women who see the value in their labor are more content, more interested, more committed and consequently more productive. They are engaged with meeting customer needs and fulfilling the goals and values of the organization.

But purpose is not inherent in a given task. We have to work at the process of determining meaning, and we have to decide what is important to us. For some, looking at the bigger picture helps. For example, keeping an eye on the mission of our organization could help us determine the meaning in our tasks. A statistician working for an energy company could see herself as a mere numbers cruncher or she could see herself as a contributing to solving the world’s energy shortage. A mom at home could see herself as a babysitter, housekeeper, and cook or she could see herself as raising eternal souls for a lifetime of service and fulfillment.

Another thing that fosters meaning for the individual is a clear sense of identity: knowing one’s own skills, talents, values, and beliefs. When a person has identified personal strengths and then finds work that uses those strengths, it is a definite motivator. We humans are not simply random collections of molecules thrown together by chance.

God crafted each of us to be unique in all the world. Therefore, the best career for any individual will be one where the responsibilities will be a good match for a person’s natural talents and personal values.

When we are doing the kind of work we were made for, the kind of work leading to altruistic outcomes we value, we feel we are in a flow. It gives us energy instead of sucking us dry by the end of the day.

So having a career with a purpose involves knowing oneself, looking for opportunities that use personal strengths, finding the larger meaning behind more tedious parts of the job, and ensuring that the work complements one’s personal value system.

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