The Path to Meaningful Work
Lesson B: Learn What
Makes Work Meaningful

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What is meaningful work? Everyone has a different answer to this question. Work that holds great meaning for one person might be completely unfulfilling to someone else. Our passions are as individual as snowflakes. And yet all meaningful work does share some traits in common:

Meaningful work matches your values. What's most important to you? What arouses your deepest emotions? Is it beauty, service, devotion, discovery, justice? Each of us holds certain values in high regard. These values shape our perspective, guide our behavior, determine our choices. What do you find most desirable, most useful, most worthy? What are your ideals? What character traits most attract you? What social customs do you follow? What institutions do you hold dear?

If you feel that your work lacks meaning, that's almost certainly because it conflicts in some way with your values. Later in The Path to Meaningful Work, you will find exercises to help you clarify and articulate your values in ways that will ultimately lead you to greater meaning in your work

Meaningful work empowers and nurtures you. If a long day at work leaves you feeling not just tired but drained, depleted, that's a good indication you're in the wrong job. But if your work has meaning to you, even its most mundane or dreaded aspects feel worth the effort and you go to bed at night glad you did what you did that day, no matter how difficult it may have been. Meaningful work sustains you, builds you up, helps you grow.

Ironically, right now is when you need personal empowerment and nurturing--now, when you are struggling for answers and considering serious changes. But often your work isn't giving you the sustenance you need. And the people in your life may not be either; in fact, their own expectations, fears and resulting lack of support may be among the biggest roadblocks on your path to meaningful work.

Later exercises in The Path to Meaningful Work will help you build up both your internal resources and the support you receive from others. In the process, you will prepare yourself for any challenge.

Your personal values and your sense of personal power are at the heart of The Path to Meaningful Work. As you complete the lessons, you will clarify your values and strengthen your reserves of personal power. This process will fully prepare you to carry out the action plan that is an important part of this home study program.

Case Study: Some people set out on the Path to Meaningful Work assuming they will eventually change careers--that their current work couldn't possibly hold them for a lifetime. But that isn't always what happens. By following the lessons in this program, some people actually discover new meaning in their old work, and return to an existing job with renewed commitment.

One successful but unhappy photographer discovered as he was doing the lessons in this course that his work did in fact have great meaning for him. He loved taking pictures! But he had drifted into wedding photography, which he found stressful. This caused him to question his entire livelihood. As soon as he turned his lens instead to food photography (This man also loves to cook!), his old enthusiasm returned and he happily renewed the lease on his darkroom for another five years. Sometimes, real meaning is right there all the time, just waiting for you to find it.

Your own circumstances are unique. Don't assume that your interest in this home study program will necessarily lead you to a complete career change. It might, but it might not. Be prepared for anything.

What Webster's Says:

Meaningful adj 1 a: having a purpose b: : SIGNIFICANT

Click the following link when you are ready to begin your first exercise:

Exercise 1: Begin to Clarify What Is Meaningful To You

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