We’ll continue our exploration of business and careers this week with a look at how a gay man can find meaningful work. We’ll be building on a lot of things I talked about in my last post. The most important is your definition of meaning.
How do you Define Meaning?
Meaning is a loaded word because it has so many possible definitions. Before you can start looking for meaningful work you need to figure out how work could be meaningful for you.
Is your work important if it puts food on the table for your family? Is it about making a contribution to your community or society as a whole? Is it about feeling good about what you accomplished? Is it seeing the fruition of your creative efforts? These are only a few of the possibilities, food for thought as you consider how to find work that’s right for you.
It’s About Values
All of the important words in the questions you explored are values. Values are the things that are most important to you. They’re unconscious drivers that help you to align with your deepest self. If something you do violates your values you won’t feel good about it.
In order to find fulfilling work whatever you do needs to align with your values. Alignment is about more than the work itself. The values of the company you work for matter too. As does the impact it has.
Let’s say you’re an accountant. You’re ethical, and you enjoy the work. Who you work for still matters. If your organization’s values align with yours, you’ll feel good. If they don’t, you’ll be unhappy. What you’re doing will feel wrong.
Meaning Must also be Personal
In the last section, I mentioned that work could bring ing you joy. That is one of my values. I don’t want to spend all day doing something I don’t enjoy. I’m willing to do things don’t like to serve my greater vision, but they can’t take up most of my time and focus.
As you consider what kind of work might be right for you you, you should look at the things that are important to you personally. It isn’t only about the big picture, and its impact on other people.
Does the work you do need to be stimulating? Do you need a high level of contentment and low stress? Do you thrive on a hectic schedule that keeps you motivated? These are all ideas for how you can look at work.
Allow it to Happen
Embrace that truth regarding how you derive meaning from work. Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should be finding value. As men, we are strongly programmed to seek validation from the work we do. If we make the mistake of letting other people determine what that should look like we are unlikely to ever find happiness or satisfaction.
Sometimes working through these ideas leads you to the comfortable conclusion that you are content with life as it is. If that doesn’t happen, take heart. This exploration can lead you to a path of powerful, even radical, change. Take your time. Use your values to figure out how to proceed, and how quickly. There’s nothing to stop you from having the transition itself bring more meaning into your life and your work.