When Your Job’s Purpose is not Your Purpose

Do you feel fulfilled by your current job? If not, it could be that you are lacking a sense of purpose in the work you’re doing. This is not to say that the work you’re doing is not important to the company, but maybe it doesn’t feel important to you.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” I love this statement because there is an implied positive future in it. The message is not that you will be stuck in your current position forever. The message is that you are being responsible now, doing what has to be done, and you are taking steps toward your desired future.

So what do you do in the meantime — while you’re taking these steps toward what you want to do? How do you get through every unfulfilling work day until then? You change how you think about your current job. Start with gratitude. When you wake up each morning, think about how grateful you are to have a job or how grateful you are for a special co-worker, or the experience you’re gaining, or anything else you can think of to be grateful for in your current job.

The other thing you can do is create a purpose for your job that makes you feel more fulfilled. For example, if your job’s purpose is data entry but you are sick and tired of data entry and know that this is not your purpose, then find purpose. You can find purpose in your current job or you can find purpose outside of your job. Continuing with the data entry example, if you feel your purpose is teaching, then ask your manager if you can train the new hires in your department. If that’s not an option, fulfill your desire to teach by volunteering at an organization like the Boys and Girls Club or get a part-time job tutoring or teaching a class after work or on the weekends.

Remember that you are so much more than your job title. My oldest son is currently working as a grocery store “bag boy.” While he is still very young, he and I both know that his life’s purpose is not to bag groceries. However, he has found purpose in his job beyond his job title; that purpose is helping others and making their day better. I got to see him in action one afternoon. He was truly enjoying helping people with their groceries and chatting with them. I watched customers drive away with smiles on their faces and watched my son joyfully find the next person to help.

If you are feeling unfulfilled, reflect on what is missing in your work and what will make you feel more fulfilled. Instead of focusing on the negatives, think positively about the actions you can take to become more fulfilled and more closely aligned to your life’s purpose.

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