What is meaningful work?

Come Blog With Me – Day 25.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection (see also my thoughts on creativity prompted by the same book) and have just come to the chapter called Cultivating Meaningful Work. Brene says that the definition of meaningful work is different for everyone. And that it’s not necessarily solely what you do for a day job, it might involve other aspects of your life as well.

So naturally that got me thinking. What do I consider to be meaningful work? Am I doing or aspiring to do anything that I think of as meaningful? The words she used for her own definition were things like inspiring, contemplative and creative – and these started my brain working….

I think for me, meaningful work has several aspects to it.

1. WHO? It’s about working with the right clients.

Working with people who offer services that have a real impact on the life of an individual or a group of individuals. People who are truly passionate about what they’re trying to achieve, who know that what they’re doing will make a massive difference.

And organisations (or projects) that offer support and practical assistance, that raise awareness of issues, that campaign for change, that educate people or teach them how to do something, or that connect people with each other.

2. WHAT? It’s about what I want to help those people and organisations to do.

Enabling them to connect with like-minded people and organisations, so that they can learn from each other, be inspired, support each other, discuss issues, share knowledge and collaborate to make things happen.

Helping them work out how to communicate with the people they are trying to help.

3. WHAT? And it is also about knowing that I’m using my talents and doing something I enjoy.

Because I can get satisfaction from knowing that I’m helping people or organisations make a difference, of course I can. But wouldn’t they benefit so much more if I’m also truly engaged in what I’m doing? If I’m “in flow”?

[Flow: the mental state in which a person doing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Reference: Wikipedia]

And the activities that I love most in the world are thinking, planning and gathering information. So if I’m doing those as well as working with the right people and helping with the right types of projects, then I hope I’ll feel like my work is meaningful.

4. HOW?

Some things for me to ponder:

  • If that’s my definition of meaningful work, am I already doing that in some way?
  • Do I need to seek out new opportunities to fulfil those criteria?
  • Or should I just adapt something I’m involved in anyway?
  • What else is it important for me to have in work or a project?

So what does meaningful work mean to you?

  • Does it involve certain types of people/organisations?
  • Are there certain activities you feel drawn to help them with?
  • What talents do you need to use for your work to be truly meaningful?
  • What else do you need?
  • Is your current work meaningful? If not, how can you adapt it or add something new?
  • Can you do a project outside of your day job that is meaningful to you?

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