4 ways to find meaning, happiness and success in your career

Human beings are drawn to find meaning in our lives and when it's lacking our happiness, health and career all suffer. When we feel our careers are off track and not satisfying it's often because we have a deeper, sometimes hidden sense there is a lack of meaning to what we are doing.


Research has shown that when we find our life and work meaningful we enter a state of flourishing which has real benefits to our physical and mental health as well as boosting how we show up and perform in the workplace.

Meaning-making is a complex and subjective process but there is good evidence that there are four big drivers of meaningfulness for people in the workplace. Focusing on these drivers can be useful for making key career choices and for providing a much-needed lift to your engagement and performance at work.

The drivers of meaningfulness

1. Develop and become yourself

The first driver is about being yourself in your career. This means understanding who you are, being clear on your beliefs and values, and having a vision for who you want to be through your work.

Meaning and thriving in the workplace comes from being aware of who you are, who you want to be and developing yourself to make that a reality. Finding ways to be your full, authentic self with your colleagues is a great way to find your work meaningful.

2. Express your full potential

This driver is about expressing yourself to the fullest extent possible. Creating things, achieving outcomes and influencing the world around you are all ways you can do this and bring greater meaning to your life and work.

Knowing your strengths and using them in your work can really help you to fully express yourself and enjoy a satisfying working life. Crafting your job by making small changes to do more of what you love and less of what you loathe can be a smart way to access more meaning in your work.

3. Achieve unity with other people

The first two drivers focus on you as an individual, this driver is about sharing and belonging with others. Being part of groups is an innate human drive and feeling a sense of shared identity and belonging with your team, organisation and profession is a fantastic way to grow your enjoyment and satisfaction in your career. 

Taking the time to reflect on the work communities you belong to and how well they fit with what matters to you can be a useful exercise. For example, you may realise how important a shared sense of belonging and community is for you in your work and decide to commit to building greater bonds in your workgroup.

4. Serve others

Finally, doing something that matters beyond purely our own needs is a critical component of a meaningful and enjoyable career. This could mean being part of an organisation whose mission involves serving a greater good or working in a team, department or profession that is oriented to meeting the needs of others. There are infinite possibilities for being of service to others at work. 

Taking the time to reflect on how what you do now improves the life of someone else can be a great way to immediately find more joy in your work. You may also decide that you are lacking in a more direct connection to serving others and feel the need to switch what you do to be more directly of service.

Keeping it all in balance

Each of these drivers has been shown to enhance meaning in work and lead to real tangible outcomes in engagement, performance and satisfaction. They are also somewhat in tension with each other and require a degree of balancing over time.

This could look like taking the time to invest in developing yourself before a period of focusing and a major project to fully express your potential and a new image of yourself. You may also take time to invest more in workplace relationships and building community to build a foundation for future work efforts.

Putting it all together

Meaning is a powerful innate driver of human behaviour and flourishing but it's not always easy to identify when it's lacking and what to do about it. If you have a sense that you would like more from your work and career you could work with a professionally trained coach who can help you tease apart the different dimensions of what matters to you and take action to bring greater meaning to your career. 

A good coach will help you take a step back, identify what's not working and identify practical steps to make changes that will really matter. This could range from finding more joy in what you are doing now or all the way to initiating a major career change. Whatever the journey holds, it's best to travel with an expert partner!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham, Surrey, GU10
Written by Gary Armstrong, Pinnacle Coaching and Development
Farnham, Surrey, GU10

Gary Armstrong helps people who are stuck to find joy, fulfilment and high performance. He uses coaching and consulting to help people become clear on their purpose and goals and make transformational shifts in how they achieve them. He especially enjoy working with early to mid career professionals looking for deeper career meaning and purpose.

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