I want you to say this out loud:
“I deserve meaning”
Not, “I deserve to be rich.” Not even, “I deserve to be happy.”
No one deserves to be wealthy. The universe owes you nothing, despite the popularity of manifesting. Furthermore, research has increasingly shown that boosts in income may affect self-report of life satisfaction, but it actually does not improve emotional well-being beyond a certain point.
Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ~$75,000
So, chasing money certainly won’t result in fulfillment (Sorry!). Nor do I believe that you can pursue happiness. Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, has discovered in her research that the more you chase happiness, the less likely you are to achieve it.
“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”
– Viktor E. Frankl
Instead, I believe that lasting happiness is actually a byproduct of having meaning in your life. You should discover what fulfills you, and what gives your daily life meaning. You do deserve that. I believe that we all do.
“70% of U.S. Workers Not Engaged at Work”
– Gallup State of the American Workplace report
But, it pays the bills and you’re making good money. Maybe more money than you thought you’d ever make.
You may have thought that it’s ok if your job doesn’t fulfill you, as long as you’re doing well. You can use all of that money to buy happiness.
“He who dies with the most toys wins”
– Malcolm S. Forbes
I know that I have heard variations of this many times in my lifetime.
I was told: Don’t expect that your job will make you happy. Buy nice things and that will make you happy. Fulfillment? You can deal with that later, during your retirement.
But, they were wrong.
During the latter half of the 20+ years of my corporate career, I often had people on my teams that were much younger than me. I used to find it somewhat amusing that they wanted their work to mean something. You have to remember that this was a novel concept to a Gen-Xer. I remember telling them that the point was to improve the product metrics and drive the revenue numbers. That was the “meaning” of their project.
I was an 80s child. We were raised in an environment that told us to go to college, get the best job possible, ruthlessly scramble up the corporate ladder, make a ton of money, and buy all of the things that will showcase your success.
Meaning? Not mentioned once.
But, I get it now. It took years of experience, several career promotions, pursuit of material possessions, missed moments with my family, and some hindsight to get there. Better late than never, I guess.
We tease Millennials a lot, but their search for meaning and fulfillment is neither misguided nor frivolous. In the end, we will all discover that pursuing meaning is the point of life. They are simply figuring this out at a much younger age than we did (although, sadly, research has uncovered that some Millennials are indeed seeking wealth)
My hope for you is that sharing my stories helps some of you realize this much sooner than I did. I want you to find the fulfillment you deserve, and live a better life now instead of waiting until you’ve accumulated some massive pile of possessions, only to eventually realize how hollow it all makes you feel.
Redefine your career to give it meaning that aligns with who you are, what you’re great at doing, and how you can best help those who matter to you.
Ready to redefine your career and reclaim your life? I provide one-on-one career consulting for a limited number of clients. Let’s talk to see if I can help you with your career transformation.
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