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Doing meaningful work: A mini-manifesto

Meaningful work requires courage and constant enquiry. It’s a quest based on our values and purpose, and if we want to tell this story here are a couple of things we should bear in mind:

You will get lost. In the process of doing something meaningful you will get lost.  Meaning doesn’t happen on the surface: you’ll need to go deeper, and at some point it’s going to feel confusing. 

You have to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity. There are no guides, steps or manuals for meaningful work. Only you can make sense of what it means to you according to who you are. Moment by moment. Day by day.

Cultivate patience and radical honesty. Don’t expect immediate results. Surround yourself with people who are ready to provide radical honest feedback – even if it hurts.

–   Hold on your values, but not too tightly. Let your values and purpose grow over time and create sub-narratives that will enrich your story. 

–   Define your success in terms of your impact. Meaningful work is not better when it’s bigger. It’s quality over quantity. What matters in meaningful work is not how many people you reach but how many people you have helped by daring to show up as who you are. 

Set your intention and don’t worry too much about the goals.  Focus on the story, the vision and your impact, and define your goals according to them. The goals may change over time. What drives meaningful work is the intention, not the goals. Becoming healthy doesn’t happen because you go to the gym three times a week but because you’ve created an intention around it, part of which involves going to the gym. Meaning is in the intent, not in the goal.

Choose a story that talks about who you are because of others. Choose a story in which others can see themselves and you can see them. Cultivate belonging and collaboration over creating silos and winning races.

Despite what many people think, the hardest part of meaningful work is not the constant doing it but rather having the courage to find out what it means for you and the people you want to serve.



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