Every person wishes to have a meaningful and purposeful career, but not many of us actually reach that dream. People just don’t know how to make professional decisions that lead to meaningful outcomes. Why is that? Well, in most cases, only a small number of parents and teachers provide us with tools to pursue a meaningful career and we tend to experience very little of purpose in our early days of work. For that reason, we often end up stuck in a job that makes us miserable. 

But if you don’t want to live your life like that, here are a few ways you can ensure your career is meaningful, it allows you to grow, develop and become a happier person. 

Know what “meaningful” means to you

Everyone has a different definition of the word “meaningful”. Some find meaning in being respected by colleagues, some want to be challenged every day, some want to spread the mission of the company or organization…Once you find your purpose and meaning, your okay job will become a true calling. And make sure to look beyond the obvious things like money, title and prestige. 

Try to make changes in your existing job

If you don’t like your current job, don’t rush to change it. To find meaning in what you do, you might want to take on a new assignment or role that will allow you to improve your skills and grow. Signing up for a new cross-company initiative or taking something from your boss’s plate will certainly make you into an irreplaceable member of the team. If your company doesn’t let you experiment, you can look outside for support and join industry groups, attend conferences or volunteer for a nonprofit. 

Concentrate on helping others

Helping others is a great path to take since it can make both you and other people feel good and healthy, thus spreading happiness and wellbeing all around. Giving is a way to connect to people, create strong and tightly-bound communities and help society and individuals grow. And you don’t have to base everything on money—giving time, ideas, energy and expertise all count. 

For many people, helping kids is the purest and most rewarding way to help and you can also build a great career out of it. Working with kids will provide you with new challenges and opportunities to grow and develop every day. It certainly isn’t easy to work with little ones, but it’s one of the most gratifying things you can do. Once you see a child learn, grow, develop or get healthy (depending on which sphere you’re working) you will realize how happy both of you are. If you want to help additionally, you can even get PALS Certification online and save many lives. This certification is geared towards medical staff who responds to emergencies in infants and children and you will get a course completion card, so your kids and parents know they are in good hands. 

Manage your finances

Money is one of the main reasons why people choose to stay in a job they hate. However, you can create a little financial safety net which will provide you with the freedom to explore and grow other career opportunities. Make a budget and lower your expenses every month. You can even downsize or sell the other car. Having a financial cushion will allow you to find something you actually want to dedicate your professional life to. 

Ask for advice

Make sure to have conversations with as many people as you can. Connecting with people who are pursuing their dreams or doing what you want to do can be very helpful. Make sure to be careful and critical and don’t have selective hearing—this can cause a lot of disappointment in the long-run. 

Share your passion with others

Finding a career that fills you up with passion and connects you to a bigger picture is the goal. However, unless you still don’t know your purpose, you can simply share what you’re working on and you will certainly attract a lot of likeminded people. Having a place in a community is important when it comes to finding a meaningful career. Usually, the people you meet become your supporters and pals, but often, they can offer work and collaborations.

Think long-term

Right now, you’re not looking for a job—you’re looking for a career. What you do now should not serve the sole purpose of finding your next employment. Think long-term and don’t ask yourself “What do I want to do?” but “What life do I want to live?” Where do you want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years? Sure, you will need to answer some immediate questions that concern your job (pay, work environment…) but only answer them in the context of your career, your purpose and meaning. 

If you start this process of finding work that matters and allows you to grow as a person, don’t expect it to always be easy, but in the end, you will feel amazing about where you ended up.