We spend 35% of our waking hours working.
When I first came across this statistic it depressed me.
While not sleeping I was spending 35% of my time making entrepreneurs and corporations I barely knew richer. I wouldn’t have minded this – in fact I would have enjoyed doing it – if the companies had a mission, vision, and product (MVP) I considered meaningful.
But often they didn’t.
After graduating from college I would always go with the company that would hire me first. On the surface I only cared about the money that came with having a job and was too young to understand the importance of meaningful work. But I was always quietly discontent in my naive state.
I used to tell myself that this discontent came from me not getting paid enough, but over the past few months the truth about my discontent surfaced. This happened shortly after I defined what meaningful means to me.
How I define meaningful is pretty simple. Something is meaningful to me if I do it and, while doing it, don’t desire to do something else.
By my definition, sleep is meaningful, which I like 🙂
In all seriousness though, defining the word “meaningful” is one of the most important things I’ve done this year (I show you how to do it here).
It gives me direction. It makes it very easy to tell if I’m doing what I should be doing. It made me confident in making a very tough decision – to quit my job without having another job in the pipeline.
After defining meaningful and before quitting my job, I analyzed my reactions to everything I was doing at work. This awareness helped me uncover the truth that I was wasting my time there. Even though the work was meaningful to others, it wasn’t meaningful to me.
I’m going to go ahead and blame the amazing people I worked with for me not discovering this sooner!
For most of my working life the most meaningful thing about work didn’t come from my work but from what came with the work – the people. I am grateful for the people I have met over the years at different companies and the friends I have made.
But I do believe you can have both: colleagues you consider friends and a job with an MVP that isn’t motivated by greed and profit but by an honest desire to make people happier and the world better.
After five years of post-collegiate work (some meaningful, some not), I’m now on the greatest career mission of my life: to find and work for a company that has an amazing team and MVP.
To begin this journey I had to rip the band-aid off and go cold turkey as they say. I had to trade in the stability of my previous job for chance. I had to leave behind $65,000/yr and benefits for nothing of the sort.
This decision was not an easy one but I know it was the right one. I know this because the other decision, to stay, meant living 35% of my waking hours without meaning.
As I write this I’m unemployed but living without a desire to be doing anything else. I’m living a meaningful life.
Update! I landed a remote job using the process outlined in this guide.