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The Search for (Meaningful) Work

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Shaping A Life

The idea of combining 1) earning a living and 2) loving every minute of my life, seemed like a reasonable goal. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a French teacher. I went to school, traveled to Europe, did my student teaching. At the same time, I had this vision that I’d be happy living on a farm with animals. I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t make this happen.

Then I realized that:

  • I had lived in the city/suburbs my whole life. Living in a rural environment maybe wasn’t the greatest idea.
  • I am allergic to most animals.
  • I liked teaching and the kids, but I didn’t like the “school” environment as a work place.

So all my initial plans had to be tossed. What would take their place?

Reality Check

If I had a better understanding of myself and what I needed, my route to finding meaningful work  probably would have been smoother. I was lead down my path by:

  • not getting good input/advice
  • doing what other people expected of me
  • being driven by financial stability
  • not understanding what ‘else’ I could do to earn a living

On my way to being a grownup, I made a decision about a serious relationship.  That led to determining where I lived, which then led to the kind of work of I did. Once I had children, my life was “shaped.”

The biggest difference I see between myself early in my work life and those entering the workforce today (Millenials), is that they are insisting that employers meet certain criteria for ‘good’ work. I love this and support it wholeheartedly.

Finding and Enjoying Meaningful Work

As I talk to Millenials, they articulate their journey to ‘good’ work.  As I understand it, they mean not just finding a paycheck (their experience is, there’s always another job), but finding a place to work that values what they value. Things like:

  • scheduling and benefits flexibility
  • organizational social conscience/impact
  • personal feedback and growth

Unlike previous generations, it seems they are willing to give up ‘compensation/pay,’ for a place to work where they feel valued.

As a Millennial entering or starting out in the workplace, do you know what questions to ask during an interview to find out if the organization is a good cultural fit for you?

I have some ideas about this and will be writing more about it. I look forward to our journey together.

Image credit; Jack Kerouac

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