Finding fulfilment in a work context is the backbone of a happy life. The problem is figuring out what it is for you, and then finding it. The average person spends 70% of their lives at work, which is a large proportion of one’s life, so it makes sense to get it right.
Dan Pink writes some extremely interesting analysis on the psychology of work in his book ‘Drive – the Surprisingly Truth About What Motivates Us.’ In it he explores three crucial ingredients for fulfilling work:
Autonomy – The desire to direct ones life
Mastery – The urge to get better and better at what matters to you
Purpose – The yearning to do what you do in the service of something larger than yourself.
Identifying fulfilment is one thing but finding it is an entirely different ball game. So after a lot of personal soul searching, 4 years of building a business around the central concept of helping people find fulfilment, here are my 14 top tips to finding it:
1. Don’t quit your job immediately
Finding fulfilment is not going to happen over night. It’s a process of discovery. Quitting in a bid to intensify the process is rarely the right thing to do. You need to allow yourself time to consider your options.
2. Don’t search for a passion
Forget searching for your passion. Make yourself useful by following your interests and your passion will develop.
3. Write it down / Cut it out
It may sound strange, but you can’t ignore something that is visual. Whenever you see something you like the look of save it, screen grab it, cut it out, print it and store it. This will serve as a visual reminder of the journey you’re on over time, and you’ll start to see trends.
4. Surround yourself with like-minded peers and people
You are the product of the people around you. Distance yourself from negativity, and embrace people and ideas that give you energy. Energy from others is contagious, and it is the thing that will drive you through the harder times.
5. Learn by doing
Work experience isn’t just for high school kids. Find friends who you think have interesting jobs. Find out what they do, shadow them for an afternoon. What you think might be an amazing job might actually not turn out to be the case. Be prepared to work for free. Get an internship if needs be. If you want to break into a new area you need to allow yourself time to build up credibility. It can be frustrating, but it shouldn’t be seen as a step back.
6. Travel is not always the answer
Resist the temptation to ‘find yourself’ while traveling! Traveling is brilliant for many reasons, but taking a gap year with the purpose of knowing exactly what you’ll want to do when you get back doesn’t always happen.
Reading is a great way to explore ideas and frame your thoughts. That’s exactly why we wrote our book to guide people through the process of looking for a career change.
8. Stay inspired
Go offline, and get out there. Go to inspiring events, network with people you find interesting. Check out Meetup.com there is stuff going on every day. There is no excuse.
9. Start a business
You won’t find any business owner who is unfulfilled. Yes it’s hard but it’s incredibly rewarding. Don’t be put off because you can’t find a new unique idea.
10. Launch projects
If starting a business sounds too daunting, frame it as just starting a project. You don’t have to commit to scary and unrealistic business plans. Use Strikingly and launch a business in 30 minutes. Send it round to your friends and get feedback on it. You can do that in a matter of hours and if it doesn’t fly you’ve lost nothing.
11. Learn skills
Evening courses, online courses, offline courses. Learning a new skill is fulfilling itself, and you will feel like you’re actually doing something positive and challenging. You are also creating more value for yourself so it’s never a waste of time or money.
12. Share your dreams
Get creative. It’s never been easier to set up a blog. With Tumblr or Medium you can be blogging within 30 seconds. It’s a great creative outlet and the Internet is littered with success stories that began just by starting a blog.
13. Spend time not thinking about it
Sometimes you can over-complicate and over-analyse. Make sure you spend time doing things that relax and clear your mind. The best thoughts come when you have a fresh perspective. So whether it is painting, running, cycling, knitting… make sure you schedule some time in because the power of clear perspective is huge.
It may not happen first time but keep repeating these steps and eventually you’ll get there.