We all want to find meaning in our career.
No one wants to spend time and energy doing work that doesn’t bring them satisfaction and a sense of purpose.
Finding meaning in your work has another advantage: It leads to higher achievement. Creating or building achievement and significance is what will ultimately make you happy in life as a whole.
But here’s a myth buster: No Job is meaningful in and of itself.
Meaning is all about what you bring to the job.
So let’s walk through how you can find more meaning in your career, achieve better results, and feel more satisfied in your job and beyond.
Use Your Zone of Genius at Work
You can work for Save the Whales and hate your job, and you can work for Halliburton and love your job.
The meaning you find in your job doesn’t come from your job; it comes from your personal sense of achievement.
For me, a key turning point in my career was identifying my “zone of genius.” It was a game-changer not only for my job satisfaction, but also for my career advancement.
You can think of your zone of genius as your superpower. In his book The Big Leap, renowned executive coach Gay Hendricks defines zone of genius like this:
What he’s saying is that we all have things that we gravitate towards, and when we do those things, we tend to be more successful. Our zone of genius is also where we find meaning because we’re using our talents.
Helping others reach their potential is my jam. I operate in my zone of genius in my career coaching business, but I was also able to do so during my career as a corporate leader. I loved mentoring my employees, helping them to take on stretch assignments, and helping them grow in their roles and get to the next level. It was truly my favorite thing to do.
What’s your zone of genius?
- What do you love to do?
- What are you really good at?
- What kinds of tasks make you lose track of time because you’re so fully absorbed in them?
Find Meaning Through a Legacy
The second key ingredient in finding meaning in my career was building a legacy. A legacy is something that will create value and have an impact on the business as a whole, long after you’re gone.
Building legacies takes hard work and there are no guarantees, but they can create a ripple effect that will pay off in both the short term for your happiness and in the long term for your career.
I naturally gravitate toward things that need to be improved. What can be done faster, easier, smarter. Process management is my zone of genius.
From this innate ability, I saw the need for improvement in how the Victoria’s Secret photography was being organized when I first started there.
Millions of images were scattered all over, among the office, vendors, and photographers’ studios. I took their photo assets to a digital system back in the day when digital storage was just coming on the scene and few people had even heard of the term metadata.
I created an entire digital workflow for post-production photos that was central to this Asset Management System. There was nothing at Victoria’s Secret prior. This system is now used enterprise-wide and carries 50+ terabytes of active photo assets.
It was incredibly empowering to harness my zone of genius for this legacy system, and it gave my career there so much meaning. During the years I was working on this project, I was happy getting up and going to work each day.
Think of your legacy as your happy pill. It’s a dose of feel-good dopamine that makes you excited to get up and face the day because you care about what you’re doing, and you know it matters.
What will your legacy be?
- What’s a problem you can fix?
- Where’s a gap in exactly the shape of your zone of genius?
- How can you contribute your unique skills in a way that’s really needed?
Where Will You Find Meaning?
Remember, you create the meaning, not the job.
Taking action and creating value is how you’ll feel important and enjoy your work. When you’re working in your zone of genius on a legacy project, it’s true that it’s a lot of hard work.
But you’re in this flow that carries so much energy. It feels great. Plus, you’re probably setting yourself up for a nice promotion.
The success from that photo asset system I set up at Victoria’s Secret provided returns throughout the years. It led to speaking engagements, consulting gigs, and new career opportunities. You never know where your work will take you.
Are you ready to tap into your zone of genius and start working on your legacy? Sometimes the opportunities are needles in a haystack. I can help you search through possibilities and brainstorm what’s right for you.
Schedule your free strategy session and take the first step toward finding meaning at your job.