Four Ways to Find Purpose in Your Work

By Harvard Business Review
February 20, 2019

Working with a sense of purpose day-in and day-out is an act of will that takes thoughtfulness and practice.

Why is it that some people can be extraordinarily well-paid but feel empty, while others can work in the most menial jobs and feel fulfilled?

Part of the answer is purpose. But purposeful work takes thoughtfulness and practice. Here’s how to achieve that.

Connect work to service: We each serve someone in what we do. Teachers can see the young lives they are shaping. Corporate accountants can take pride and purpose in the customers they help. Who do you serve?

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Craft your work — and make work a craft: Treating work as craft means focusing on the skill needed to complete one’s work and dedicating oneself to perfecting those skills. This atmosphere of constant improvement in service of craft in itself seems to fill professional pursuits with greater purpose. 

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Invest in positive relationships: Relationships within the workplace matter as much as those outside of it. Efforts to enhance the positive relationships you have with others at work can give work greater meaning.

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Remember why you work: Most of us don’t have the luxury of working solely for fun. We may enjoy our jobs, but we also work to earn money and pay bills. Parents often work hard to invest in their children; and those without kids often help support aging parents or other relatives. Who are you working for? Identify that person or group of people. When the hours are difficult, remember that your work is an act of service for those you care about in your personal life.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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