What does meaning

What does meaning mean and how do you find meaningful work?

originally published: December 22, 2014

Many people - including us at tbd * - deal very (very) a lot with the question of the meaning of the job. One thing is clear - now everyone is actually looking for jobs that make sense. However, it is much easier to say, “I am looking for a meaningful job” than it is to actually find it.

A job with meaning does not necessarily mean a job with an NGO or the establishment of a social business, these jobs can also be meaningless. And then when the job does not suit your character and skills. In short - “meaning” is a personal thing. What makes perfect sense to one person is an absolute nightmare for others. But then how do you know what kind of meaning you are looking for? And where to look

The three of us have already done “meaningful” jobs in the past - worked for non-profit organizations - and yet the question of what makes sense kept coming up.

It's good that there are people who try to answer the questions of our generation or help us to find the answers ourselves. The book The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, for example, can certainly lead you on the right path. The point here is not to give answers, but to ask the right questions.

Are you looking for a job with meaning, but you don't know what this job should look like? Ask yourself these questions. Now get yourself a pen and a piece of paper and write down your answers. Go all the way through from 1 to 5 and don't leave a question out. At the end of the day, you may not necessarily have a job that makes sense, but you are clearer about what you are actually looking for.

Meaningful work reflects you as a person. So who are you?

  • What do you love about yourself?
  • In what ways are you weird or a little weird? (By the way, you should see that in a totally positive way!)
  • How would you like to be perceived by others?
  • What made you really happy last time?
  • What made you really sad the last time?

Meaningful work reflects your interests.

  • What are the things that are important to you?
  • What injustices make you angry?
  • What events shaped your view of the world?
  • What personal experiences have formed your worldview?

Meaningful work allows you to express your talents.

  • What are your personal skills and strengths?
  • Which of these skills and strengths do you actually like to bring in?
  • What do you want to learn or understand more about?
  • Which courses would you most like to attend?
  • Who would you like to speak to? (Idol)

Meaningful work allows you to help others.

  • What impact do you want to have?
  • What impact did you have in previous jobs?
  • Do you need to see the results of your work every day?
  • Do you have to have a personal relationship with the people you help?

Meaningful work is financially feasible given the lifestyle you aspire to.

  • What are your weekly and monthly expenses?
  • What is your quality of life?
  • How much money do you need to be able to guarantee this quality of life?
  • Can a job or an opportunity also fulfill you outside of work?
  • What does work-life balance mean for you?

Ideally, your work gives you more energy than it demands from you. However, if this is not the case, speak to your superiors, co-workers or co-founders. You don't have to accept the status quo and live with it, you can change something yourself. The chances are pretty high that your colleagues or your boss feel the same way. And together you can at least try to find a solution.