Work where you don’t hate everyone: 3 ways to find your mission

Posted by | October 22, 2015 | How to change jobs, Looking for work

Three ways to find your mission blog header

Don’t like the work you’re doing now? Unclear about your calling? Need a fresh perspective on your purpose? This post is for you. Do Good Jobs has gathered three fresh & unconventional tips to help you find your mission.

From the age of 12 your classmate Clara knew she’d be an organic pastry chef. Your BFF Harry Potter didn’t go to a career counsellor, and somehow he still wound up destroying he-who-must-not-be-named and saving the world. And just last week, while walking in the park, your neighbour Michael unearthed a passion for meditative embroidery.

Why is it easy for them and hard for you? Never fear, soul-searcher, Do Good Jobs is here to help.

Fresh Tip #1: Time travel

PlayOur first fresh perspective on discovering your purpose? Go back in time. According to Stuart Brown, co-author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, childhood play has big implications for finding our mission. Brown’s research indicates that our play between the ages of 4-12 years old can be an important key to our innate talents.

 […] this is nature’s way of sort of saying this is who you are and what you are. And I’m sure if you go back and think about both of your children or yourself and go back to your earliest emotion-laden, visual, and visceral memories of what really gave you joy, you’ll have some sense of what was natural for you and where your talents lie – Stuart Brown

So, how did you play between the ages of 4-12 years old? What did you do, and what did you enjoy about it? This is a different question from the standard ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’. While the answer to the latter will almost certainly be influenced by parents, teachers and even our own idea of success, remembering our earliest memories of undirected play will instead be focused on natural enjoyment and talent.


Fresh Tip #2: Seek out Work Where You Don’t Hate Everyone

WhatCOlourNot sure which bliss is yours to follow? Take a break from worrying about ‘what’ and ‘why’, and start thinking about who, where and how. This tip is inspired from job-search classic What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles. Bolles suggests exploring which work environments suits you. Open-plan office or outside? Working alone with feedback or part of a close-knit team? Which people do you generally work best with and what are their occupations?

It’s more satisfying to dig a ditch with friends than to design a skyscraper with a team of sociopaths – Jessica Hagy

Although, I’m quite certain that I would enjoy designing skyscrapers next to one particular sociopath, the idea of seeking out work where you don’t hate everyone makes a lot of sense.  Think about who you are most drawn to, excited by or most at home with. Whether it’s artists, scientists, gamers or no-one at all, your ideal work companions can say a lot about what kind of work may fulfill you.


Fresh Tip #3: Stop Finding, Start Doing

HowtofindfulfillingworkFloundering in a sea of mission-finding? It could be time to stop finding and start doing. In How to Find Fulfilling Work, Roman Krznaric encourages us not to wait for some kind of epiphany. Instead, he suggests that we get to work on something  anything  that we find meaningful and enjoyable. This doesn’t mean not the most meaningful and enjoyable, it means choosing one thing that happens to be both meaningful and enjoyable to you. Says Krznaric:

Marie Curie never had [a] miraculous moment of insight, when she knew that she must dedicate her working life to researching the properties of radioactive materials. What really occurred was that this goal quietly crept up on her during years of sustained scientific research. […] That’s the way it typically happens: although people occasionally have those explosive epiphanies, more commonly a vocation crystallizes slowly, almost without us realizing it.

If you’re really lost, stop waiting for the perfect explosion and start working. If you find a new mission later on, well, you can always start again. We don’t need to be the best, we don’t need to be perfect. Instead, our focus can be on doing something meaningful, enjoying our work, and seeing where it takes us.

By Liz Willoughby-Martin

Like this post? You might also enjoy DGJ Detective: can bullying happen in a ‘do good’ workplace? Escape the daily grind: take a radical sabbatical.

2 Responses to “Work where you don’t hate everyone: 3 ways to find your mission”

  1. Comment made by kebl on Oct 27th 2015 at 8:56 am:

    Thanks for your article Liz – another book which hits this nail on the head is ‘The Art of Deliberate Success’ by Dr David Keane. He talks about identifying your Unique Life Purpose (ULP) and the 10 Behaviours of Successful People. Great practical read with tangible ideas to put into practise. Well worth checking out.

  2. Comment made by Liz Willoughby-Martin on Jan 5th 2016 at 12:38 pm:

    Thanks kebl, I will check it out!

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