Brazen Careerist has an excellent post on how to find meaningful work. She says:
"Work doesn't give your life meaning. The idea that your happiness correlates to your satisfaction with your work is misguided. What you need from work is to make sure it's not undermining your ability to create sanity in your life. Work is a way to get sanity, to make sure you are growing and you feel secure while you do it. Here's what you need from a job to get that:
- A short, predictable commute
- Workflow you can manage
- Clear goals that are challenging
- Two co-workers you're close friends with
Once you have those things in your job, then it is not up to your job to create meaning in your work, it is up to you."
I agree completely except for the part about the short, predictable commute. That's a distinctly personal preference. I have a friend who recently bought her dream home - a ranch an hour outside the city. I could never handle a commute like that. Yet when I asked my friend about her commute and she acknowledged it was long but said, "I love my work and don't mind driving in. On the way home, the farther I get from the city, the less stress I feel, and when I turn the curve and see my land in the distance I get this huge smile on my face!" For her, the trade-off is completely worth it.
I think the main point is to make sure not to build your life around your job. Figure out how and where you want to live, then subordinate your income generating activities to your goals to create that life. For my friend, the keys to having the ranch she always dreamed of included a) a substantial income to pay for it; and b) work she enjoyed enough that she was willing to handle the commute. But make no mistake - while she "enjoys" her work, her meaning is found in the barn and the garden.
Read BC's posting, and then let us know - what do YOU need to have meaningful work?