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How to Find Fulfilling Work
The School of Life
- Read in 19 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 12 key ideas
If you feel trapped in your job or long for more fulfilling work, you’re not alone. How to Find Fulfilling Work (2012) explores the core components of what makes work meaningful and full of purpose, detailing exactly which steps you need to take to find work that brings out the best in you and keeps you truly happy.
Key idea 1 of 12
We’re dissatisfied when our expectations about work aren’t met.
Did you know that at least 50 percent of workers in the Western world are unhappy with their jobs? A survey across Europe even suggests that if people had the option to start over, 60 percent would choose a different career path. But what makes them so unhappy?
The dissatisfaction we feel at work often stems from the fact that our expectations are higher than ever before. Modern workers don't just pursue decent pay – they expect their job to give their life meaning.
However, this wasn’t always the case. People used to be happy with having a roof over their heads and food on the table. But now that most of us, in the Western world, are relatively affluent and can meet our basic needs, we're looking for more than just good pay.
So while you would probably reach the end of your tether toiling away on an assembly line, your grandparents were probably fine with it and even grateful to be able to pay their bills.
Nowadays, we’re after a feeling of purpose and want to pursue our personal passions, values and talents. Basically, we want our job to be fulfilling.
What, then, should we do? Well, you can either lower your expectations (supporters of this approach say that work has always been tedious and never a joy, and that therefore we should lower our expectations and look for fulfillment outside of work) or you can join those who think finding fulfilling work is possible, if perhaps challenging.
The latter approach encourages you to pursue your dreams, instead of regretting that you never tried to free yourself from the shackles of your unfulfilling job.
It’s fairly obvious that we’ll now proceed with the latter strategy! But before we see exactly what makes a career fulfilling, let's try to better understand why meaningful work can be so difficult to find.