How To Find Purpose in Your Work (Benefits, Steps and Tips)

Updated February 3, 2023

There are many factors that can lead to feeling fulfilled and inspired by your job, and professionals may benefit from having a career that aligns with their core values. Finding purpose in the workplace can help individuals meet their goals and remain engaged with their job duties. Understanding how to achieve these feelings may help you feel more satisfied with your work.

In this article, we explain what purpose in work is and why it’s beneficial and provide steps and tips to help you find your purpose in the workplace.

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What is purpose in work?

Purpose in work is the intrinsic sense of fulfillment that employees gain from doing work that’s meaningful to them. Purpose can help employees understand why they're carrying out a particular venture, why this venture matters to their career and why their career impacts the organization or industry. When employees believe in the value of their work, it can help them feel motivated, fulfilled and connected in the workplace. 

Additionally, as people change, their values and motivations may develop as well, and what helps them find purpose in their career may shift over time. Since purpose can change over time, employees need to reflect on their goals and values throughout their careers. By identifying changes in your values, you may either decide to pursue a different type of work that’s more fulfilling or identify new ways of connecting your current work to your motivations.

Related: 6 Ways To Find Your Passion for a More Fulfilling Life

Why is it important to find purpose in your work?

You want to find purpose in your work because it can lead to feelings of commitment, passion and excitement about your duties and responsibilities. This may also help align your professional purpose with your personal purpose, which may help you feel more fulfilled. Here are some examples of how purpose in work can benefit employees:

  • Increased engagement: When employees have a strong sense of purpose at work, it may increase their engagement and motivation. Believing in the value of your work may help you feel more interest and enthusiasm for performing your duties.

  • Reduced stress: Employees may either experience less stress or have more tolerance for work-related stress when they have a sense of purpose at work. Even if your work comes with challenges, finding meaning in those challenges may improve your feelings of stress.

  • Improved workplace relationships: Working with a team of like-minded professionals who believe strongly in their work is a great way to develop strong professional relationships. Having positive workplace relationships can also keep you motivated and engaged throughout the workday.

  • Greater satisfaction: Many employees benefit from having a sense of satisfaction in their work. Being satisfied with the work you do can lead to personal fulfillment.

  • Better resilience: Believing in the work that you do may improve your ability to adapt to challenges. You may be more willing to persist through challenges, navigate transitions and overcome obstacles when you find value in the work that you do.

  • More motivation to learn new things: When you find purpose in your work, it may increase your motivation to learn new skills that can help you in the workplace. Gaining new skill sets is a great way to continue doing the work you love while engaging with it in new ways.

Related: Choosing a Career With Purpose: How To Find a Meaningful Job 

How to find purpose in your career

Here are six steps to help you find more purpose and fulfillment in your job:

1. Enjoy the simple things

One way to find more fulfillment in the workplace is to appreciate small gestures and moments of engagement. For example, offering advice to your coworker if they ask for help with a task or holding the door open for your colleague as they enter the room can contribute to you feeling like a valuable and helpful team member. Have conversations with your colleagues, get to know them and give genuine compliments to show your gratitude. Forming meaningful connections with others in your workplace is a great way to feel more motivated and enthusiastic on the job.

As a strategy for improving your appreciation, make a habit of paying attention to small things throughout the day and how they make you feel. By making it a conscious decision to focus on things that make you happy during your workday, you may improve your perspective on your work environment. Another way to enjoy the simple things is to keep a record of gestures or moments that brought you joy throughout the day. Keep a journal and spend a few minutes at the end of your workday listing three to five things that you appreciated.

Related: How To Show Appreciation at Work: Benefits, Examples and Tips

2. Improve your work environment

Once you've acknowledged the potential effects of simple events, consider how you can make the workplace more satisfying or enjoyable for others. Identifying ways you can better the company for stakeholders, customers or other employees is another way you can find purpose in your career. This may involve creating an innovative strategic business plan, finding ways to improve and positively impact your office space or contributing your unique ideas during a meeting.

Consider complimenting a colleague on their exceptional performance or offering insights from your perspective when your team is solving a problem or creating a solution. You can also enhance the physical space of your work environment by adding decorations or personal items to your workspace. Add photos of your loved ones, potted plants and decorations that make your workspace more welcoming and personal. Improving your work environment may help you feel more invested in the organization and its success, which can motivate and inspire you.

Related: Positive Working Environment: Definition and Characteristics

3. Understand what motivates you

Take time to reflect on your interests and motivations. Assessing your values and priorities can help you connect your behavior and professional tasks to something that genuinely matters to you, allowing you to find purpose in your career. This can align your professional role with your personal values to help you feel more connected to your work.

For example, if you value improvement and positive contributions, you can find purpose by understanding how to contribute to your team or helping your company develop a system for donating services to the local community. Alternatively, if you value laughter and joy, you may find meaning and motivation by greeting other professionals with a smile and remaining light-hearted or humorous.

Related: What Is Intrinsic Motivation? Definition and Examples

4. Consider your legacy

 Consider what kind of lasting impression you want to leave in your company or industry. Your legacy can be tangible or intangible. For example, while some professionals may develop new software or create a new system of operations, your lasting impact can be treating others with kindness and respect or always being willing to advise and train new employees and team members. By setting a goal for yourself to leave something meaningful behind when you leave your job, you can create purpose for yourself.

Related: How To Create a Career Legacy in 6 Steps (Plus Tips)

5. Reflect on your talents

People typically focus their resources, such as their time and money, on things that are meaningful to them, so you may have already committed to developing your talents because they're related to your values and priorities. This means that to find purpose in your career, consider reflecting on your talents and things you've committed to improving and developing. Alternatively, if you're innately good at something, it may make you feel more motivated and engaged to practice this ability. 

Consider the following ideas to identify areas where you succeed:

  • Think about what others say about your work and identify specific areas where your managers or supervisors have given you positive feedback.

  • Reflect on your most successful projects and what makes them different from others you've executed.

  • Consider where you can make the most impact in your role and what skills you possess that may help you with this initiative.

  • Review questions colleagues have asked you and notice what topics they come to you for advice about or why they look to you for guidance in a particular area.

6. Acquire new skills

Once you've taken into consideration your talents and abilities, you may find additional purpose by identifying ways to acquire new skills that contribute to your professional development. Learning how to execute new tasks or effectively use new software can help you feel motivated and challenged, which may increase your engagement and interest in your profession. The learning process may make your work feel more important and meaningful and equip you with useful abilities that can carry with you to other jobs or positions.

Related: 5 Steps To Learn New Skills

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Tips for finding purpose in work

Consider these tips for adding purpose and value to your career:

  • Set realistic expectations. Setting achievable expectations can help you stay motivated when pursuing workplace goals. When setting goals, make sure they’re specific and measurable so you can track your progress toward accomplishing them. 

  • Be willing to accept extra responsibilities. If you're striving to find inspiration and execute meaningful tasks, this may require you to accept additional responsibilities, like mentoring your colleagues or helping with additional projects. This extra time and commitment may highlight your value and make you feel purposeful in your role.

  • Use strategies that can make your work more engaging. Sometimes, purpose can connect to feelings of enjoyment and pleasure, so consider doing things to make your work environment a more pleasant or entertaining place. 

  • Help those around you. Many people feel useful and valued when they use their talents and capabilities to help others, so you might consider taking time to offer advice or train your colleagues. This can have a positive impact on you and your company, while also demonstrating your teamwork and communication skills.

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