How to Find More Purpose in Your Current Job
As millennials, we often view our career and our purpose as one and the same. Many of us carefully select our majors in college, dream up the perfect job and anticipate a quick and painless path to happily ever after.
The reality is that in the United States only 27% of college grads end up in a career related to their majors. Let that sink in for a moment – less than a third of us follow our “perfect path” post-college.
Take yourself as an example.. Have you ever felt like your career wasn’t fulfilling your purpose? It’s an all-too-common feeling for millennials, especially because we tend to pursue things that look good on paper to impress our parents, peers, and even strangers on Linkedin Layer on the experience of being underpaid or undervalued.
Here’s the good news: you CAN find more purpose at work without having to give your two weeks notice. The bad news? It will require a little effort. But oh is it worth it.
First things first: figure out what DOES light you up. We call these things “Purpose Triggers”: an activity, person, environment or feeling that gives you a heightened sense of meaning. Examples of Purpose Triggers include being outdoors, teaching or developing others, learning something new, making music, helping people in need – you get the gist.
You may not be able to incorporate ALL your Purpose Triggers in a professional environment, but start listing some of the activities or people at work that give you energy, instead of drain it. Perhaps one of your work Purpose Triggers is mentoring new coworkers or perhaps it’s brainstorming new ideas – whatever it might be, consider how you can dedicate more of your time to these things or reframe your role to be more focused in these areas.
With that in mind, here are three tactical ways to find more purpose in your current job:
1. Take the initiative to learn a new skill
After you’ve been at any job for a little while, it’s easy to feel restless and in need of a new challenge. One way to combat this is to take initiative (a.k.a don’t wait for permission, ask for forgiveness) and learn a new skill. This is not only an opportunity for personal growth, but a new skill set on your resume can give you a professional leg up as well.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some of our favorite online learning resources: **note:
The EveryGirl Courses
From job searching skills to photoshop, The EveryGirl is a go-to resource for new grads!
Need to brush up on your technical skills? Skillcrush will help you crush your web development and coding goals in no time.
Take an affordable course on any topic! You can find our course designed to help you find your purpose there too!
An especially great resource for freelancers looking to expand their skillsets.
2. Delegate tasks that drain your responsibility
When you start to observe what your “Purpose Triggers” are, it may naturally help you identify what drains your energy. We all have tasks we tend to avoid or procrastinate on. Becoming aware of which tasks excite you and which make you want to run in the other direction can be empowering. For starters, you can try and tackle these less welcome tasks when you’re most likely to have a positive can-do attitude about them – like first thing in the morning, or right before an activity you love. Or, you can find a way to delegate them.
For example, when I worked at a tech startup, I was the Team Lead for our internship program for two years. While I enjoyed mentoring college students at first, I started to feel drained by the high-level of turnover. Knowing it was no longer making me happy, I asked my boss if I could delegate this responsibility to another employee and step deeper into my marketing role, learning new skills that were beneficial to my future career path.
If you’re in a positive work environment with some level of flexibility, it may be worth having this discussion with your boss.
3. Ask for a new job title and lean into it
Sometimes a new job title can give you a fresh perspective on your role and potential for impact. As one Muse article points out, “People use your job title to quickly understand how you fit into an organization, what you do, and your level of expertise or authority.” Sometimes a new title can appear as a promotion, making it easier for you to expand your resume with different responsibilities.
Finally, if you’re feeling a lack of purpose in your job, resist the urge to confine your sense of purpose exclusively to your 9-5. In the book, Designing Your Life, authors Bill Burnet and Dave Evans ask readers to create a dashboard with four categories and then ask readers to self-assess the quality of their life in each: Work, Love, Play, and Health.
How full is your “tank” in each of these categories on your dashboard? If you’re leaning too heavily into work, you might want to reassess whether your lack of purpose is the result of being out of balance in other parts of your life.
While it is important to feel a sense of purpose at work, it’s equally as important to realize that no single job will never fulfill or complete you entirely. If you find yourself stuck in a job that you don’t love, try leaning into your “Purpose Triggers” and finding ways to incorporate more of the things that do bring you joy. Searching for a new job can be daunting and many people jump into new careers without trying to find purpose where they’re at. Challenge yourself to practice a little more self-awareness at your current job. If you still find you’re unhappy, you can at least make the most of a situation until you can find a new position that suits you better.
Have you had success in a position that didn’t bring you purpose? How did you find purpose in your daily work?