Career coach: How to find meaning in your work

I’m an HR manager in my mid-50s. I feel my job is meaningless and I’ve got another decade to go before I can retire. I have worked for this company for more than 20 years and I don’t want to move. I feel valued and respected here. What can I do to remotivate myself?

With the passing of time in a particular role, it is easy to get the idea that this is all you can do. I would suggest you explore your options – first, within the role itself. Is there any option to adjust the scope of the role so that you are incorporating some aspects that give you more meaning?

A job that has become meaningless can indicate that it is not aligned to your values, so the first step is to identify what would make your job meaningful. Bear in mind that this is a very personal question. Everyone has different values and defines ‘meaning’ in a different way, so it’s important that you do some soul searching and identify what is meaningful to you.

Ask yourself: What is important to me in my role? What am I motivated by? When I last felt really motivated, what was it about the situation that created that state? How would I like to help others in the company?

Look for ways that will allow you to combine these values with your 20 years of experience. Find new ways of utilising your knowledge – perhaps you could become a mentor to less experienced HR managers. Only you know what can make a role meaningful to you.

If you cannot see options to bring meaning into your role, then there may be some scope to do something else within the company, or even to create a new role. The role that you dream up could be exactly what your organisation needs, and it may be possible for you to make a case for it.

If this is still not an option, then you need to ask yourself: What is it costing me not to move? In other words, what are you missing out on by staying there until you retire? Is it fear that is keeping you there? This is a common factor as to why people stay in places that they don’t like.

Fear is often backed up by a belief that a new venture may not succeed. It is important to realise that such beliefs are personal and not universal laws. By being clear on what you would ideally like to do, much of the fear can start to disappear, and you can begin to visualise what you really want and make it a reality. Getting the support of a mentor, friend or coach at a time like this can help you to clarify your options and re-energise your enthusiasm and motivation.

By Marielena Sabatier, executive coach and co-founder, Inspiring Potential

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