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How Do You Define Meaningful Work?

Green stickie that says, "Find your purpose."

Many of us are driven by a passion to create change. But is that enough to make a difference and have a meaningful career?

Over on Colipera, Bassam Tarazi says that getting caught up in the feelings of change actually distract us from the skills we need to develop in order to truly contribute to a cause. He argues that we need to strike a balance between our desire to feel and our desire to do.

"When you’re looking for meaningful work for your own sake, it’s almost as if you’re asking a company to do you a favor. You want a make a difference, you like the idea of their cause, therefore they should hire you. Yay! Look at all the puppies and rainbows everyone!

But just because you want to work for a global NGO, doesn’t mean you’re qualified to fill an open position there.

If the well I was digging in rural Africa had an immediate soil integrity problem, you could be bursting at the seems to help but what I really need is a civil engineer. You might only be qualified to stuff envelopes for the company in the Charlotte, NC office. Is that “meaning” enough for you or would you have to be on the ground interacting with the projects and communities for it to be meaningful in your eyes? Is it about you or the end user?"

Read the rest of his piece over on Colipera.

His focus on how our desire to feel good might drive us to thinking we should do work we might not be a good fit for (and, in turn, ignore the needs of the people we wish to serve) also makes me think of how asking “What’s my passion?” can actually make it harder for us to find work we love. Perhaps the question we should be asking is, “What am I wiling to get really good at that will contribute to my cause?

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by Allison Jones

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