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How to find joy in work


Finding meaning in work is not something most people give much thought to.  Traditionally they have looked at “work” as a way to pay the bills or achieve a level of financial success. 

As society has evolved and been pushed to new limits with technical advancement, it is more common to see evidence that we as a culture are promoting the notion that meaningful work is more accessible. 

What if one could think of meaning first in their search for work?

What if having meaning in a persons work created increased passion and promoted a higher level of productivity?



I have spent my entire career helping people find jobs as a technical recruiter and small business owner.  I can tell you from experience that the hiring process has changed.  What future employers look for today is far removed from what they looked for just 5 years ago. 

The ability to create tangible material “stuff” is certainly valuable, but it’s also where technology and automation will continue to interfere with opportunity.  Developing ideas and making changes is the new way to make money (it’s always been the case, but never more so than today).

To be a sought after resource moving forward, people need to be able to create and solve problems.

It is also true that working as an entrepreneur is much easier than it once was.  Working environments and cultures are far more tolerant, and frequently even encouraging regarding hours, location and the conditions of employer/employee relationships. In the end true meaning comes from serving others.

As a recruiter, when I successfully help someone make a significant change for the better, it feels good.  I am serving others in that moment and getting paid for it.  Everyone wins.



There are very specific exercises anyone can do to help them find meaningful work. 

1.    The first thing one needs to do in an attempt to find meaningful work is to grant himself permission.  People deserve to have meaning in their work.  This may sound obvious, but it should be a formal exercise because the brain has probably never been wired for this before and most people just need to get out of their own way. 

2.    The next part of this trip needs to include some list making.  Taking out a piece of paper and a pencil (old school works better) and creating two lists is the second step. 

a.    The first list is all the things one loves to do.  Anyone committing to this exercise needs to be careful not to minimize anythingeverything counts. 

b.    The next list is things that they are very good at.  Same ideaeverything counts.  It’s helpful to think about the second list from the standpoint of legitimately being able to teach someone else how to do it.

3.    Set both lists side by side and then create a third list, which consists of things that were on the first two lists.  Now take the third list and cross off anything that does not involve helping other people. 

4.    What remains is a list of things to investigate further. This research involves identifying where opportunities exist to make money and how to make money doing those things...that one LOVES to do.

Deep investigation into these areas from the final list will encourage a few positive results.  It will open the mind up to possibilities never thought of before.  It will also extinguish certain previously embedded impressions and reinforce new ones. 

This is a crucial exercise that most people never do their whole lives.

 5.    A few simple mental exercises that are very helpful once some direction has been established are:

·      Guided Meditation

·      Visual Affirmations

·      Breathing As A Routine

The idea that repetitive visual images, breathing and audio sounds will implant positive behavioral pathways in the brain and eliminate negative embedded beliefs over time might sound a little “out there” for some.  

Most people who are skeptical of these practices have never tried them before or haven’t done so consistently over an extended period of time.

Once people open up their minds to these practices, they notice a gradual shift because they really do work. Today they are taught in all walks of life with great success to promote things like confidence, happiness and increased productivity.  

6.    The next step is to decide whether it’s necessary to go find a mentor in the particular area of choice or that enough experience and knowledge already exist in the area of choice to create a viable business. 

The fact remains that mentorship is essential at some point.  Some people have already found theirs and others need to go get one. 

MENTOR - Someone who has already been successful doing what you want to do who resonates with your way of thinking and communicating.


Final thoughts

For someone who is currently employed and wants to go do his own thing, it’s perfectly acceptable to work the side business after hours and weekends before they “jump” for good into a solo venture. 

Fair warning to anyone who decides to do his own thing;

It NEVER feels like enough preparation has been done. 

No one can mitigate all the risk out of change. 

This article is not the place to drill deeper into the tactical details of securing a job or starting a business.  Hopefully this article will serve to provide permission and create some initial momentum.  

 Give yourself permission to go find meaningful work and then take action with these lists and meditations.

 Now would be good.

Written by Mark Aylward.  Mark is a technical recruiter and small business owner.  He specializes in helping find meaningful work and figuring out the work/life balance.  For more information about what Mark can do to help you go to