When you throw the white flag on finding meaningful.
As humans, we're wired to search for meaning and significance. We need to feel that what we do makes a difference. That it contributes.
That it matters.
A lot of job seekers, particularly in today's economy, ignore this vital truth.
We've got mouths to feed, mortgages to cover, aging parents to care for, braces to fund.
We've got a mountain of obligation, and so we shove meaning and significance aside and search instead for the easiest-to-find dollars.
But what happens when these dollars are tied to a company whose mission doesn't align with our values? Or one that views work/family balance as a laughable perk? Or one whose products or services are so staggeringly uninteresting to us that we can barely stay awake for eight hours a day, no less INNOVATE for eight hours a day?
What happens then?
Answer: We stagnate. We exist instead of thrive. We demonstrate to our children that dreams and aspirations mean little. We get fat. We drink too much. We're tired. Sometimes, we're really, really tired.
And that is not how we humans are supposed to live.
For those who roll your eyes as you read this, thinking "She just doesn't get the way things are out there. She just doesn't get reality?"
I challenge you to spend an hour this week. Just an hour. Write down words and phrases that you associate with "meaningful work" or "topics that inspire me" or "things I believe in."
And then next week? Spend another hour contemplating organizations whose products and services might align with the words and phrases that you've put to paper.
And then the following week? Start interacting with people at these companies. Go on over to LinkedIn. I swear you'll find people working for these very companies, and they won't bite (and if one does, deal. Move on to the next one.) Ask them how they like working at that company. Ask them how they got their feet in the door. Ask them.
Three weeks. Three hours.
Certainly, you may not find your instant "in" to the meaningful dream job in that amount of time. But I'm willing to bet that, in these three hours, you'll start realizing that it's way more in the cards than you figured it would be.
When you throw the white flag on a meaningful career, you throw the white flag on you.
Don't do that.