How to make your work meaningful

Uncategorized Feb 11, 2022

Just how important is it for you to have meaningful work? And what actually does "meaningful work" really mean anyway?

When I first started career coaching professionally, I'd just gone through my second major career change. It was the first time I'd really thought about what I wanted to get from work. What it had to do for me. 

Initially I was completely stuck. All I knew was two things:

  1. I didn't want to do computer systems any more
  2. Whatever I did do next, I wanted to feel passionate about it

The reality was that if redundancy hadn't come along, I'd have probably still been there. There was nothing particularly bad about it. In fact, the people were nice, the work was ok and the money was very nice. Had I known what I know now, and had I stopped and thought about it, I would have come to those conclusions much earlier and without the kick-up-the-bum that my job being made redundant gave me.

That would have presented another problem though: I would have felt completely stuck and trapped. I'd never heard of career coaches who could help me work through that situation and become unstuck so I could make the right next step for me. 

Luckily for me, when my job was eventually made redundant, I did have career coaches to help me and I'm very glad I did. Words cannot express how valuable their expertise was in helping me make a successful career move.

As it happens, of course, that was to become one of them. But the point is that they helped me find that something I was passionate about and helped me make the move. The fact that I'm still loving it 20 years later says everything about how valuable their professional input was (rather than the well-intentioned but pppppp

In my first few years I worked almost exclusively with people going through redundancy, and I noticed that most of them were experiencing some or all of the thoughts I'd had: 

  • I haven't enjoyed this for quite a while now
  • I'm too old, don't think I could do anything else at this stage of my career
  • I'm a [insert job title], that's all I can do
  • I haven't got any transferrable skills
  • I've been such a long time in this company, I'll have to stick in this industry

Although I still work with people going through redundancy, over the last few years I've found that more and more people are seeking me out because they are unhappy at work or know they want something different but don't know what. 

So how do you make your work meaningful?

Here are three tips to get you moving on the path from stuck to meaningful work: 

1. Work out what your transferable skills are.

Think about each thing you do and make a list of all of the different skills and personal qualities use in doing it. You'll find a lot of them repeat in different tasks  which show that they are transferable.

2. Know what you want to do.

This isn't about job titles, or even industries. Its about looking at those skills and qualities and deciding which you want to use or develop in your next career step and which you want to leave behind. That's right; just because you're good at something and/or used to enjoy it doesn't mean you have to carry on using that skill. 

3. Know what meaningful means to you

What's meaningful or fulfilling to me may be your worst night mare. And vice-versa. The secret here is to work out what your driving work values are. That's the top 4-6 most important things that work has to do for you. 

Ask yourself what is important to you about work. Give yourself time to create a list. Then prioritise it.

What do you do then?

What you've just done is work out the components of your ideal job. The next step is to explore where you can find that: what industries, organisations, job titles. 

The information you have gathered will help you to have meaningful conversations and ask the right questions as you use your network to help you understand where your criteria fit in. My experience, personally and with clients, is that when you ask people for the benefit of their experience and expertise to help you research your next career step (rather than straight out asking for a job), they are almost always willing to help. 

All of that will build in to developing CVs, going to the job market, interviewing and so on. But you've got to take the first steps first. 

Useful resources

If you want to be guided through the above activities and get your next actions in place, join my next free Get Your Career Unstuck Challenge. It starts every Monday and all you have to do is register at

If you want to talk to me, book a free 20 minute Career Strategy/Discovery session at

Stay connected with news and updates!

Top practical tips and inspiration for your career - arriving straight into your inbox.

Subscribe today!

50% Complete

Enter your details in the form below and then check your email to confirm your subscription.