Discover meaningful work in any career

It's never too late to uncover your purpose and pursue meaningful work. | Freepik

It's never too late to uncover your purpose and pursue meaningful work. | Freepik

Published Feb 29, 2024



ARE you tired of the “same old” mornings? As the new year gets underway, many of us have a desire for a fresh start, a chance to ditch the mundane and ignite our true spark.

However, beyond resolutions and gym memberships lies a deeper quest: finding your purpose; your reason for getting up in the morning.

Into their 40s, 50s and beyond, countless individuals are rewriting their stories, changing careers and discovering fulfilment later in life. Forget age barriers - it's never too late to unleash your passion and make a difference.

Most often, we find ourselves “stuck” in a job when we are in a rut doing things just to check off boxes and that have no significance in our daily lives – doing a job that drains our energy.

Working with your values and purpose is a great place to start if you want to enhance your motivation and clear your direction for 2024. Consider it your goal to be clear about your abilities and strengths, as well as to share those gifts with the world and contribute significantly to the circle in which you work and live.

Here are seven practical steps to guide you on your journey:

Discover your sweet spot

Embrace the intersection of talent, appreciation and impact. Discovering meaningful work in today's dynamic work landscape demands finding the sweet spot where your talents, admiration from others, and belief in making a positive effect all connect. It's that electrifying feeling of being completely in sync.

Observe the trends of what people appreciate about you, especially in the moments you “feel lost”.

Embrace challenge

I have witnessed a remarkable pattern among those who have found their calling. Often, it emerges from the vessel of challenging experiences. These defining moments - which can be painful, enlightening or even life altering – are transformative experiences that act as catalysts for redirecting one's path.

They shake us to our core, reminding us that we are only human and reshaping our priorities - ultimately leading us to meaningful work.

Challenge status quo

True purpose is often born from the courageous act of challenging the status quo. Throughout history, inspiring individuals such as Nelson Mandela have dedicated their lives to effecting positive change.

Whether it's breaking through societal barriers, combating injustice or reigniting a community's spirit – answering your purpose requires boldness, purpose and persistence.

It is also here where you need to step outside your comfort zone and embrace the uncomfortable feeling of “I’m not sure how to do this”. What you should know for certain is that you need to move away from the comfortable feeling of stress, change your behaviour - and that this must be done.

Mentors and support

While discovering your purpose is a personal journey, it is essential to acknowledge the role of those who subtly nudge us in the right direction.

In my experience, clients frequently attribute their transformative moments to the impact of others – mentors, friends or even colleagues – supporting them in times of change. These people play an instrumental role in guiding you toward your purpose; often without even realising it.

Mentors play a huge role. I still recall a conversation with a director in our business influencing my choice to take a promotion, steering me in a direction to pursue an opportunity I would not have had the confidence to do on my own.

Take the journey

I should emphasise that discovering your purpose should not be seen as a fixed destination, but rather as an ongoing process of growth and evolution. Growth is also not a linear process. Think of a mosaic of putting all the small pieces together and the end product being different to what you would have imagined.

Once you identify your sense of purpose, the real work begins. It may involve acquiring new skills, pursuing further education or even starting a business. Often, it leads to work devoted to serving others – a testament to the nobility of professions often underappreciated.

Disregard age

While some may discover their purpose at a young age, I have encountered countless individuals who stumble upon their true purpose later in life.

It's never too late to uncover your passion and pursue meaningful work. Embrace the belief that you have the power to find your purpose, regardless of age.

For me, after being in the corporate world for more than 20 years, I realised I was operating in a comfort zone. I was desperate for a change and wanted to impact more businesses than just the one I was working at. When I founded my business, I was not clear on exactly the services I wanted to render - but I was clear on enhancing a human-centric environment where people and businesses can thrive.

Reconsider wealth

The pursuit of a purpose does not always equate to chasing financial riches – and you may find yourself rewriting your narrative on wealth. Many stories I've encountered involve individuals who sacrificed higher-paying jobs for personally rewarding work.

The prevailing societal notion of pursuing wealth at the expense of purpose overlooks the profound satisfaction that comes from taking risks, working with integrity and leading a life aligned with your true purpose.

* Van Beek is a talent strategist and executive coach