Does your career bring you the kind of meaning and fulfillment that supports your happiness?
I ask because I so often receive inquiries from people who tell me they’re not happy. They say things like, “I’ve struggled to find a career I’m truly happy in, and feel discouraged.” Or, “Unfortunately, I’ve made too many decisions based on money but not happiness.”
I could share more, but you get the idea.
Frankly, while career choice matters, finding happiness is journey that involves some more fundamental habits. In fact, I would even go so far as saying, and I’m not alone in this, you need to choose your happiness first. Still, in my coaching work, I find the happiest people are the ones who are able to connect what they do to a deep sense of purpose in pursuing a vision for the world. And for these folks, the true measure of success is not the size of their office or paycheck. Rather, it’s the achievements that regularly result from their determined effort to fulfill their purpose.
Take Sean, for example.
While volunteering to improve community health in a third-world country, he uncovered the sense of purpose that would drive his career: Solving nearly impossible problems. Helping others overcome impossible obstacles energizes him. He measures his success by his ability to immerse himself in complexity, make sense of it, and design systems that help others succeed.
Sure, Sean’s company and their clients benefit from his work, and share ownership of the outcomes. Still, he can stake a genuine and satisfying claim of ownership to his achievements. Why? Because his results are grounded in personally meaningful events and outcomes that reflect who he is and what matters to him.
This is not to say, of course, that you can’t achieve results if you lack a deep sense of meaning. People do it every day. Yet, achieving a milestone on the road to someone else’s vision, even if it brings recognition and reward, may be shallow. In the long run, if your work fails to tap your vision, purpose, values, and passions, then you may very well experience a sense of unhappiness.
Having an empty feeling even after meeting expectations, or experiencing a chronic sense of unhappiness, is a signal to step back and reassess. Get feedback from a trusted friend, or hire a coach. Work with someone who will help you uncover your purpose. Then use it to drive achievements that matter to you, bring you a sense of fulfillment, and support your happiness.
In this sense, there is no better advice than Howard Thurman’s:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
What makes you come alive? Figuring that out is to establish the purpose that will lead to happiness in all you do!
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What do you think? I’d love to hear your view on this. So, share a comment, below. Or contact me.