Design a Purposeful Life with Meaningful Work

Image by Ajju prasetyo from Pixabay 

The reason for working may seem obvious. You want to get paid. But there are many other reasons for working besides money. Hunger in your heart, mind, or stomach will motivate you to work. Here are just a few motivators.

  • Play: You love doing the work whether it’s the process, accomplishment, or just being and doing.
  • Purpose: You are passionate about solving a problem or producing a result that fits with your beliefs and values.
  • People: You live and grow by working together with others.
  • Pay: You need a level of pay to maintain the standard of living you desire.

“[Work] is about a search…for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor”

Studs Terkel from his book, Working

Playing for fun

Curiosity, learning, exploring, creating, and building can all be play if the work is done for enjoyment rather than primarily for pay. Play is all about stimulating the body, mind, and senses. Fun looks different depending on who is defining it. One person finds climbing a mountain fun, while another might prefer planning a party. I have fun learning something new, gathering information related to my interests, and helping my clients grow and find new opportunities. Sitting in my comfy office on a sunny day feeding my curiosity would seem unreasonable to one person, while risking your life for extreme sports would seem crazy to someone like me who prefers a long walk on a fine day. Whatever your definition of fun, take time to enjoy it.

Kaiser Permanente’s article, The Health benefits of Doing What You Love, describes the many ways, “Making time to do what you love can help you ease your stress, lift your mood, and expand your social circle.”

Working with a purpose

Merriam-Webster has many definitions for work from kneading dough to producing a desired effect, result orexerting influence. Some of our best work involves a service or product that improves the lives of others. Helping my clients design a purposeful life and getting paid to do meaningful work brings me joy. Getting paid is important but offering services like the Always Employable Virtual Career Center, networking meetings, and workshops at no cost fits my values and purpose for helping you design a purposeful life with meaningful work.

Work that brings smiles and hugs are some of my most rewarding accomplishments. Recently we had a family meal. My granddaughter said, “Nona, your job is to be with us.” I said, “that is definitely one of my jobs. I also have clients, “and writing club,” she replied. Those are all work I enjoy. Some are for pay. My work like the Inspiring Writing Group or working on cooking and science projects are for fun, smiles, and hugs. Being a role model and influencing the lives of others are some of the most important work I love to do.

When paid work is far removed from a person’s values and purpose, it’s important to find meaningful work in other areas of our lives.

Live and grow with people

We naturally need people in our lives. You may feel like you need a big circle of friends, or you may be comfortable with a small cozy group who know you well. If you don’t naturally seek out friends and connections, you may need to get a little out of your comfort to find people in your life to help you find meaning in your life work.

We need mentors, teachers, professionals, and a support system for developing the skills, experience, and training to do meaningful work.You may be comfortable with phone calls or meeting in person but finding strategic connections may mean stepping into the digital world of social media. It can feel overwhelming at times with so many choices and opportunities, but it may be worth the effort depending on the work you want to do. When looking for a job, walking into a business and letting them know what you like about them can be one of the best ways to connect, when possible, especially with smaller businesses.

In his class, Surfing the Gig Economy, Brian Hutchison shared a video of the song, Stand by Me, that fit perfectly with this article on how we need people in our lives.

You are going to need somebody to stand by you for support. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Getting paid to maintain your lifestyle

“New research on the meaning of work shows that more than 9 out of 10 employees are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work.”

Harvard Business Review

Work can be paid in dollars, benefits, giving purpose and meaning to life, or giving to others. Besides working for a necessary paycheck, you can design a purposeful life with meaningful work in everyday activities. Create your  LifeWork Success Portfolio online, print, or both to demonstrate your accomplishments, expand your confidence, show your work, and stay employable whether working full-time, freelance, or intermittent.


Archor, S. Reece, A. et al. (2018) 9 Out of 10 People Are Willing To Earn Less Money to do More-Meaningful Work. Harvard Business Review.

Hsu, A. (2021) As the Pandemic Recedes, Millions of Workers Are Saying, “I Quit”. NPR.

Kaiser Permanente. (2019). The Health Benefits of Doing What You Love. Kaiser Permanente.

Merriam-Webster. Work.

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World.

Terkel, S. (1974) Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. The New Press.

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