Working for meaning
Do you like your job? Do you believe in what you do? Do you feel like you are making the world a teen tiny bit better as you clock in for your eight hours? Are you passionate about your career, your industry?
If you answered a big “hell yeah!” you are not alone, and you are among the ranks of a growing movement of positive working choice. I see more and more people for career coaching where there is an intense drive to connect more with meaning than money.
It’s a big shift and becoming an increasingly popular way of life. Generally speaking, work used to be much more about the money. Who paid the best. Best perks. Salary bands as status symbols. We were much more likely to stay with a company for decades, sometimes for a whole career. One company and a gold watch on retirement. It was all about loyalty, security and a good package.
What I see happening now is client after client saying “I just want to make a difference, be passionate about what I do, I don’t care what I earn, I just want to be happy”. The equation of trading time for money doesn’t seem to be adding up for as many people any more.
There is an anonymous quote that sums this up perfectly:
What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
Time is limited and people want it to count in more ways. They want to exchange a day of their life for something that makes their soul sing as well as paying the rent.
Meaning is the new money.
This can involve an extensive search for meaning. It looks different for each one of us. I see people connect with meaning in their roles when it engages their heart on some level, when it fits their innate skills and aptitudes like a glove (but not necessarily their experience). When logging on feels like freedom, not a chore. When they are a square peg in a round hole, no longer trying to squeeze themselves to fit a round one no matter how lucrative it may have been. I also see that these new meaning-based jobs don’t necessarily fit the traditional mould of what a proper job “should” look like. It may not look like the regular 9-5.
I’ve seen an insurance broker turn social worker. IT Director retrain as a vet. Sales Director retrain as IT consultant. I’ve seen the misery and desperation drop from their eyes as they leapt into new training schemes that felt like play, not work. All these people were brave. They all had families to support but they planned, saved, and made some big pragmatic decisions. They leapt.
I also see that when we strive to connect our work with meaning, we assume money and meaning are mutually exclusive. That if we are happy and passionate about what we do then the trade-off is that we will be poor. In reality, more often than not this is not actually the case. When people connect with their meaning, more often than not money follows. Many are unexpectedly making more money than before in their “safe” life. All feeling “richer” regardless of the dollars in the bank.
We exchange many years of our life for money at work. It’s kind of a big deal. Each personal quest for meaning, rather than money, or indeed meaning and money (they are not mutually exclusive) is breaking the old pattern, one personal revolution at a time.
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.