Career anxiety is when your current job fills you with dread and regret. You know you could be happier at work. You know you could love what you do. Most importantly, you know you have gifts and talents that you’re not using in your 9 to 5 cubicle. So, how can you find meaningful work amidst career anxiety? Let’s find out. 

Meaningful work can either mean helping to alleviate other people’s pain, or to make people’s life more enjoyable.

Either way, when your work is meaningful, you would do it for free, or at least, for much less money than you make now. Why? Because you love it and believe in it so much.

But when you don’t care much about your job, i.e., when it’s not meaningful, you want to make sure you get every single penny that’s owed you.

4 steps to find meaningful work

Step 1: Pay attention to your envy

Whose job makes you feel envious? Why? It can give you important clues about what meaningful work would be for you, and why. 

Step 2: Keep learning

People start to feel career anxiety because they’re not learning anymore at their current job. Keep evolving – even if your job doesn’t demand that of you. If you can’t leave your current job yet, take a night class, or read something that will help you grow, be it professionally or personally. 

Step 3: What was fun when you were 5?

This may sound like a silly question, but when we’re kids, we don’t care much about money or status. As we grow, our careers tend to chase after these two things. 

So, go back in time and see what you loved doing then. Is there a chance that this long-forgotten interest points you in the direction of meaningful work?

Step 4: Focus on qualities, not jobs

What qualities do you want to engage with? This might be a more helpful question than, “What do I want to do with my life” Or, even worse, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

By focusing on qualities, you’re not limiting yourself to job descriptions. Qualities can include calm, creative, with people, alone, being a leader, being a team member, etc. 

If you have career anxiety, remember, it’s never to late to late to look for meaningful work, and these 4 tips can help you find that.

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