Read this before you search for your next job

50.5 million people left their jobs for something else in 2022. 

I suspect that most of them took the leap because the job they had did not bring meaning to their lives. 

The average person will spend over 90,000 hours at work. That’s 1/3 of their entire life. 

Before you search for your next job, take a bit of time to identify what needs to be in place for the position to be meaningful to you. 

How to identify meaningful work

If you’re searching for meaningful work, here are seven things to consider to help you find your path. 

Tip: These come in especially handy when you are up for your second job or considering a more flexible career, because you can compare your current job salary, benefits, and culture to your new, desired path.

You can make an impact.
I took my current job because I knew it would put me in a position to make a difference in the lives of young artists. The further I go into my career, the more I want my work to provide a lasting impact on those I serve.

Your work is flexible.
Having the flexibility to work remotely and/or keep flexible hours in a job is a great thing to look for when pursuing meaningful work. If working off site and holding flexible hours in a position are important to you, it is important to ask about any company policies around this concept. The best time to bring this up is after you have been offered the position but before you formally accept the job.

Your work is valued.
People find meaning in their work when they feel their work is valued. Feeling valued can come from a boss, the people you serve, or even in the role you play in the advancement of a project or idea.

You have the freedom to create.
Will the position allow you to be creative and autonomous? The best positions allow individuals to have a certain amount of freedom to develop solutions to the problems before them.

You feel supported.
One of the biggest sources of frustration among individuals I’ve worked with who hold a 9–5 position is that they often feel under-supported. A great question to ask in an interview is how the team celebrates wins. In general, I don’t expect a party with every work victory, but a moment to reflect the win and a simple thank-you goes a long way.

You are doing value-oriented work.
Try to understand the values of the organization and see if they align with your personal values. I’ve developed my own set of values and I test them out before I step into a new line of work. For example, if it is important to be home to coach your kid’s baseball team, you might ask about the culture around family time and flexible hours, and so on. The answer will help you determine if the job is something you’d like to pursue.

If you’re considering a career shift due to a lack of meaningful work, take some time to consider the points above to help you focus in on what matters most to you in your career.

Photo Credit: Eric Prouzet

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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