7 Keys To Finding Meaningful Work & Reclaiming Your Individuality

Focus on these seven steps to find meaningful work tailored just for you.

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What does meaningful work mean to you?

Everyone is different and derives meaning from different things and in different ways. It's easy to appreciate that ultimately what has meaning for you depends very much upon you.

However, we tend to seek strategies and adopt methods that have worked for someone else. And in so doing, we lose our individuality.

In reality, both the goal and the journey are unique to you. You can seed, embolden, and orient your particular vision and path.


Overall, it's about getting to know yourself, editing your own story, steadfastly committing to your vision, and embracing opportunities that orient you toward meaningful work that is tailored just to you.

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Who finds meaningful work?

It may sound inspiring or even heroic to hear someone declare that they have decided to seek a job or new profession that has meaning or is more fulfilling. But, in all honesty, people have always looked for meaningful work.

Typically, young people start out with this intention. Then, life and balancing diverse goals and responsibilities become increasingly complicated.

In the end, solutions involve compromises and, sometimes, so many compromises that the original intentions seem to fade.

At best, they dissolve into unattended notions that like grains of sand in a shoe occasionally prod for more attention. The lamentable story of dreams stifled by compromise is nothing new.


Probably what's more alluring and uncommon, is the story of the person who sets a meaningful intention, persistently prioritizes it through evolving challenges by making strategic choices, and ultimately fulfills a dream.

So, the question is: How can you be one of those people?

Here are 7 keys to finding more meaningful work and reclaiming your individuality.

1. Reclaim your space.

Meaning is personal and can only be found within you: inside you.

So, start by spending less time focused on the outside — meaning, all of the external distractions. This can include work, current events, social media, friends, home projects, or family events and obligations.


All of these are important, but alone time is critical, as well. Take time for yourself and get to know yourself on the inside.

Of course, for many people, this isn’t so straightforward or easy to do. Start by reclaiming a little bit of space. Even just one full minute.

Put down the cellphone, turn off the computer, take off the headphones, and just be with yourself without interference and without external stimuli only for a moment. Just be!

2. Listen to your thoughts.

In these brief inner breaks, see what comes up. What catches your attention? What thoughts arise? For a few minutes, just let what pops up drift, grow, and evolve. Get curious.


There’s no specific end goal here other than allowing yourself to listen to yourself and notice what you think.

When you sense that you’ve been able to gain enough space to be aware of what it's like to be with you, consider jotting down a note or two about what caught your attention.

Or, it might be easier and more comfortable to talk into your cellphone recorder. Ask yourself:

"What thoughts come up?"

"Does anything surprise me?"

"Do I get insights on questions or topics I’ve been mulling over for some time?"

"Are there any questions that popped up and now I want to find the answers?"

"Are there thoughts that I now question and I'd like to open my perspective on them?"


"What do I want to explore more and learn about?"

Repeat this process on a frequent, regular basis to build a relationship with yourself, your interests, and your newfound energy to move forward at whatever pace works for you.

Get to know you and cultivate the mindset that you can evolve, take steps, create, and change.

3. Sense into your experience.

Several times a day, take a very brief break from what you’re doing. Get to know how you feel about your current day-to-day experiences.

Ask yourself, at the moment:

"What am I doing?"

"How am I behaving?"

"What am I feeling? What emotion or mood?"

"Can I sense this within my body, inside me?"

"Am I content with this moment?"


"Is there something I would like to change? If so, what?"

This is about what's going on inside your body-mind. In other words, when you turn your attention to your body and inside yourself, what sensations do you observe?

Maybe it's tightness in your back or spaciousness in your heart. Just note whatever it is.

If thoughts come up (you hear yourself using the words "I think"), just turn towards your inner sensations. How do you respond to those thoughts?

Maybe there's a mood or emotion that you associate with these sensations?

You might want to jot down or record some notes about this experience, as well. However, just noticing can be impactful, too.


Repeat this process on a regular basis to build a relationship with your inner self or body-mind connection.

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4. Repackage yourself.

Now that you've made some space, paid attention to yourself, reflected on what you do, and noticed how you think and experience, you're ready to take a moment to freshly describe yourself, personally and professionally.

Include the personal because when you go to work, you bring your whole self to work.

Don’t forget to include soft skills like your interpersonal skills, work style, etc. Recognize that every academic degree, every job, and all professions depend on the sum total of a set of complementary skills, applications, and work styles.


That's why people with the same degree or certification end up in different kinds of jobs, living different lives.

Now, take your work experience and break it down into tiny bite-size pieces. What hard and soft skills were used? How did you apply your interests and other attributes to various tasks and activities?

You’re bound to notice that you have a lot of competencies. Like Lego pieces, with them, you can build numerous different professional figures.


Think of a functional resume. You can package yourself up in any number of ways, creating a series of personal profiles, expanding your options, and multiplying significantly your opportunities.

6. Notice opportunities, large and small.

See each and every choice as an opportunity to get closer to your goal: your self-actualization. If you get a hunch, hold onto it. You don't need to immediately react.

But, you'll definitely benefit if you give it your attention and let it evolve into something with more depth and clarity. It's at this point when you can take action if you want.

7. Patience and perseverance.

My mother always used to say, "You can do anything with enough perseverance." She was right.


Keep yourself attuned to your likes and dislikes, desires and goals, and talents and skills that you enjoy using.

You may not be able to directly put them into practice today. But, keep them within your peripheral view.

When you have a choice to make about which job offer to accept, what to study, or what to do with your free time, check in with yourself — the self you’ve been getting to know.

Sense into which options bring you closer to what you like, how you want to feel on the inside, who you are, and who you want to be.

Repeat this process. Actually live this process. Align with the self that you've gotten to know and continue to discover.


Follow this process as often as possible. Embrace whatever pace feels right for you given your circumstances and celebrate all successes large or small.

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Patricia Bonnard, Ph.D., ACC is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) leadership coach and a certified Martha Beck life coach. If you're ready to start looking for meaningful work and you'd like some support register for one of her personal growth and natural healing and wellness workshops or sign up for her spiritual life coach packages.