Without meaning, it’s meaningless. If what we’re doing seems devoid of what’s important for us, it’ll seem meaningless. I’ve had several jobs that seemed meaningless for me, though at the time I could not articulate why. For example, the common employment arrangement is that your work has a task that needs to be done and it is your talent that completes the task. That’s also our common workplace exchange. That’s true even if you’re the owner of your own practice, delivering services as a contractor, or a service provider.
For many of us, our work life revolves around the commercial exchange of our talent for a task. However, when that exchange is separate from and does not include what’s important for us, it’s eventually going to feel empty and meaningless. This is represented in the following diagram.
The typical talent for task exchange can be at the expense of what’s important.
I used to envy people who seemed to have a deep sense of purpose, and would enviously think, “You lucky… person!” I would ask them how they came to know. Everyone answered the same way, “I just knew.” I used to get even more discouraged by that. I was not satisfied with this answer, as revelation had not revealed itself to me yet.
Over the years I’ve participated in every “Find your purpose” program I heard of, and read every book on the topic that I could find. In good faith I’d invest my time, energy and money into them thinking, “This might be the one that does it”, only to go home with my question still unanswered, my yearning still not sated. I’d wonder if I’d even find this elusive “thing.” What I did learn from all of this is that if it’s devoid of meaning, it’ll be meaningless.
The key therefore, is to infuse what’s important through what we do. That way, what we’re doing uses our talents that delivers on what’s needed in a way that’s important for us. So regardless of how fulfilled you are in your current activity or role, ask yourself:
- To what extent do I utilise my true talents and gifts?
- To what extent does what I do imbue what’s important for me?
- What would it look like if I was using more of my true talents on what matters?
- What could I do to better align with my true talents and what matters?
- What action will I commit to?