Typically this time of year, in early January, many of us set resolutions and goals for the year ahead. We ask ourselves, “What do I want to create over these 12 months? What do I want to accomplish?” Resolutions and goals don’t always work, reason being, they are not supported by consistent action steps or not broken into clear manageable mini-goals.
What if you asked yourself a different question. This one: What can I do with my time this year that is important to me?
This question immediately taps into your unique values. It starts (or boosts) your quest for deeper meaning.
Numerous studies have shown that doing something meaningful is crucial for our overall happiness and wellbeing. When it comes to career, feeling that your work contributes to an important cause is one of the most important factors for job satisfaction.
In my observation, finding what is important and meaningful to you essentially boils down to finding one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you.
Meaning is about doing something that takes you out of your comfort zone, stretches you and makes you grow – for the sake of a bigger cause and a bigger group of people.
In the meaningful life, you use your biggest strengths and talents to serve something you believe is larger than the self.
A more meaningful career doesn’t necessarily mean working for a charity. You don’t have to jump the ship, if you don’t want to, you can find a new project that interests you at work, get involved in a mentorship program (or help set it up yourself), train an intern. You could try volunteering, start a blog on an important topic or cause, help a friend with a start-up. In case you haven’t noticed, the world has a few problems right now and each person’s contribution is of value.
If you’re not sure what is important to you, the only way to find out is to get off your coach and act. Take the time to think bigger, to think beyond yourself, to talk to people, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself.
We all are here for an undetermined period of time. It helps to think of your life as a limited experience. What do you want your legacy to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What will your obituary to say? What do you want it to say?
How can you start working towards that today?
PS A traditional New Year gift for readers: tell us in comments’ section what is meaningful work means to you and you may get a free “More Meaningful Career in 2015” session with me.