Why It's So Hard To Find Fulfilling Work (And How To Look For It)

In our modern world, our work means something more to us than it did to our ancestors. It's not just about survival or necessity anymore, it's also about finding a career with meaning that brings satisfaction to our lives. It's not always easy to find fulfilment in a career, but here are some nudges in the right direction.

This video from The School of Life YouTube channel explores the modern concept that work should bring fulfilment along with security. Whatever your situation may be, finding meaningful work may only seem like a luxurious perk that very few are privy to. Yet many of us dream of pursuing our passions or living off our own creations.

There are plenty of arguments out there for what a career should be — and fulfilment can mean different things to different people — but there many who feel stuck. Like work is only a grind that's slowly wearing them down. If you feel stuck or that your job isn't enough, here are a few important things to keep in mind as you figure out what fulfilling work means to you:

  • It's normal to be confused: There is a much higher number of career options this day and age then there were in the past. Don't stress.
  • Know yourself: Filter through your tastes by listing everything you've ever enjoyed doing or making. You can't do what you want until you know what you like.
  • Think, think, think: It will take time for you to determine what's fulfilling to you, but it will take even longer if you don't truly take the time to think on it.
  • Try new things: You'll get to know yourself and find what you like faster by doing things you haven't done before. Maybe you'll find something new that you love, or maybe you'll find that you were right all along.
  • Reflect on what makes people unhappy: Businesses and occupations are merely solutions to people's problems. What can you do that would make people happy?

Lastly, find a way to be confident in yourself. Real confidence may carry you farther than any skill could. But you should still ask yourself "what are you good at?" Take pride in yourself and what you are capable of. We all want to lead the most fulfilling lives possible, but satisfaction doesn't just fall into your lap. You need to go out and find it. The whole video is worth a watch, so be sure to check it out.

How to Find Fulfilling Work [The School of Life/YouTube]


    The readership is impatiently waiting to hear the opinion of lifehacker's resident language police, Angus Kidman, on the use of "farther" in the sentence "Real confidence may carry you farther than any skill could". Should it be "further"?

    I think in today's society it is even harder to find just 'work', let alone fulfilling work. It's a luxury some people just can't afford when it comes to paying the bills.

    I work as a career counsellor, here's a few additional bits of advice:
    1. No test, questionnaire, computer program etc is ever going to give you a definitive answer on the 'best' career (or even job) for you. All they can do is help you refine your choices.
    2. Most job vacancies in Australia are never advertised. It's what's referred to as the 'hidden job market'. If you want to be cynical, then yes, you can refer to this as "it's not what you know, it's who you know". You need to get out there and actively approach people for work.
    3. Getting a job is easier if you have a job. Training/education on their own won't take you far unless you have some kind of proven work history - even volunteering can help.
    4. Use the tools available to help you. The Australian government has a terrific career resource at myfuture.edu.au. Unfortunately, the funding for this program has been cut and it may not be around for much longer. Because, you know, budget emergency.

    In regards to point 3, above, I had a client see me about a week ago whose main concern was that employers wouldn't consider her because she was too old, so she really wanted to go to university and possibly have a career as a nurse. She was 17. Her problem was that she hadn't been working part-time whilst at school, so had no work experience. The only real employment available to her was in retail/hospitality, but they wouldn't take her because she had no experience and was close to being eligible for an adult wage (as opposed to a kid of 15 who can do the job for 'junior' wages).

    I've worked quite a few different jobs and I've got to say, one of the most fulfilling roles I ever performed was as a kitchen steward - washing dishes. Finishing work at least half an hour early every night and looking at a spotless kitchen after the mess it was in when I first arrived earlier that day gave me job satisfaction that I've struggled to find since.

    That was when I was a teen and I always thought it was some romantic youth thing, but as I get older and read websites like Lifehacker talking about psychology and motivation, I've started to realise that my shitty job washing dishes really was rewarding. I put in a hell of a lot of effort every day and the results were tangible and very much appreciated. (even if they weren't well paid)

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