From earning a paycheck to having a purpose-driven career

3 MIN READ | #blog

Whether you’re early in your career or years down a successful career path, think about how you’re spending those 2,000-plus work hours every year. If you’re disengaged from your job and simply working for that paycheck, you may feel less than satisfied with your life in general. You can hope for someone to hand you a dream job, or you can take steps to develop a more meaningful occupation.

Finding your purpose

Regardless of where you are in your career, without identifying a clear path, you may be one of the millions of people who struggle with deciding what they want to do with their lives. Finding your purpose — or finding a new purpose if your passions have changed — won’t just happen. However, there are some ways to explore your way into a career that satisfies both your financial and your emotional needs.

Answering these questions about your work and personal life can bring clarity to your career plans:

  • What are your personality strengths and your skills?
  • What experiences have enriched you most?
  • What interests would you like to pursue?
  • How do you like to spend your time?
  • What would you be doing if you didn’t need to earn money?
  • What do you consider your greatest accomplishments? How did you create those successes?
  • What social issues are most important to you and spark your passion to create change?

Identifying patterns and possibilities

After you’ve answered those questions, look for trends and patterns that can guide you in a new direction. If, for example, you’re skilled at mentoring others at work and are passionate about education, switching to teaching or training others could be a good fit. But maybe you’re also interested in financial literacy after having seen, or personally experiencing, the damage during the recession caused by a lack of education about money. All of those skills and interests could be combined in a variety of ways such as teaching high school students, becoming a financial professional or working with a nonprofit that helps people solve money problems.

While many baby boomers and Gen Xers have focused on developing a straight career path, being open to new opportunities can result in a stronger feeling of satisfaction. The world of work has changed, and many jobs are available today that didn’t exist in the past. It may take some research to find a match between your interests, skills and available jobs and to make the appropriate connections to start a new career, but imagine the gratifying feeling of spending all of your time, including those 2,000-plus hours a year at work, doing something you find meaningful.

But only for now

If the idea of finding your purpose and committing to a new career is daunting, keep in mind that whatever you opt to do now doesn’t mean you can’t shift to something else in the future. People’s interests evolve over time. For example, you can start your career as a nurse, believing that’s the best way to help people, but later you decide you can have a greater impact working in health care policy.

What’s important is to build your skills, identify your interests and look for opportunities to develop your purpose-driven career.

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