We tend only to think about work in terms of money and status. We forget that there are lots of other benefits and that work can bring us joy. In work we can find self-expression and creativity, a chance to act and contribute toward collaborative goals. We can find our sense of self in our work.

But finding the right job is not easy.

We are encouraged to think a vocation is something inherent in us. That each of us has a natural calling. It is true some people know what they want to do from a young age, but for most of us it is not that easy. Finding a job that we can enjoy can be a difficult task. The vocation myth can be damaging. It encourages people to do little to research and find work they can enjoy. Instead to sit and wait and then blame themselves when it does not come.

And there are structural reasons why we can come to dislike work. With the intense specialisation the modern world encourages we often feel we are only a small part of a big machine and that our contribution is meaningless. Further we may feel the thing we are contributing to itself is meaningless. Driving shareholder value or pleasing a distant customer may seem like odd things to give your life up for. The money you get may not seem enough to meet the demands of modern life. And you may be worried about how long you can keep your job. Constant competition means organizations have to restructure downsize or outsource roles. And whatever you position there is likely to be competition snapping at your heels. Meanwhile others may be getting ahead. Ambition may mean you want to rise further but there are more ambitions than there are senior places in an organization. None of these factors are within your control. They are all the result of work under modern capitalism. Self-employment or entrepreneurship may be the alternatives, but the reality is it is hard for people to succeed in their endeavours. Trying to do so involves risk. That risk may be worth taking, but it is one you need to think through carefully.

Work brings both pleasure and sorrow. It can be a source of bullying and anxiety, a place of mundane tasks and catty comments and daily put downs, but it is also a place where you can bring control and order. A place to socialise and learn and master. A place were you can serve, help and collaborate with others. A place where you can find identity. It is also a place where you can earn an income, providing a modicum of comfort and a sense of dignity and achievement.

Read more about Meaningoflife’s career research and plans for the future by clicking on the following links.