How to Find a Meaningful Career


Meaningful —adjective

full of meaning, significance, purpose, or value; purposeful; significant: a meaningful wink; a meaningful choice.

What is a meaningful career?

It’s many and different things to each and every person.  The true definition of meaning is finding value in something, having and pursuing a purpose, something that you truly care about. Some people find that meaning in their hobbies, family life or in societal engagement in their free time. Others expect that deeper meaning to be inbuilt in their careers.

This means they don’t just want to make a living – or progress their careers – as an objective of its own. Rather, they aim at making a contribution to society through their work.  And having a real and positive impact.

Therefore, pursuing a meaningful career is a lot about aligning your brain and heart and putting them to action through your work.  So, how to get there?  There are three major building blocks that you must first clarify.


Where? To find a meaningful career.

Careers with a positive impact are possible in all sectors – private, public and the so called ‘third sector’ of non-profit organisations.  In fact, the boundaries of the sectors are increasingly blurred, allowing for innovative combinations.

You can become a (social) entrepreneur or business; take a sustainability position in a corporation, or become an (impact) intrapreneur.

You can join a NGO or charity, research in an impact field or find your own unique combination.


What? Can you change through a meaningful career.

You can address any cause, be it education, environment, freedom or better policy.

Back to the true meaning of meaningful, it’s about what matters to you and the impact you can have in that space.  You can start with writing down what you would like to change in your world, if you could.  Getting a good idea of what you truly care about is a great starting point.

Then it’s a case of combining that with the where – we will share a helpful framework soon – to identify the opportunities available to you.  Of course, then you need to make it happen, leading on to…


How? To create a meaningful career.

Based on around 300 career profiles, we identified five main paths that people follow on the way to a meaningful career. which we’ll describe  in more detail in an upcoming post.

Some people come across an issue that they find unacceptable and need to solve, others follow a passion or a very special skill or resource that they have.  Others analyse the major issues in their environment, define the biggest lever and then work on fixing it.

The opportunities within companies are increasing, even though in most cases they ask for a more entrepreneurial attitude then the “regular jobs”.  It’s not always about leaving your organisation, skill base or sector.


It’s all part of a journey

The main issue we face today is that with increasing personal and financial pressures, communication, technology, health challenges, social acceptance and the constant need for success it is too easy to forget what we value most.  This applies across our day to day lives, not just our careers.

Pursuing a meaningful career is a lot about taking time to realise what you truly care about, and then working on it every day.


Meaningful Career Resources

You can get examples and inspiration on, filtering profiles by specific sectors, causes or paths.

Also, take a look at out posts reflecting on  Understanding Intrapreneurs and Meaningful Careers in Social Entrepreneurship.

And coming soon a useful framework for identifying sectors and opportunities for a meaningful career and five paths to a meaningful career.


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