Your Meaningful Work – Introduction

Transforming education starts with knowing “your meaningful work…”

At four different times in my life, I asked the question, “What should I do with my life?” One of those times occured when I was an undergraduate college student. I remember the days of trying to decide on a major; however, it was hard because I had no direction, no purpose, no plan, or no legitimate reason for attending college, other than I had to go. My parents had their ideas, believing that college was the next step on the path to success. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college, job, family, retirement, death. Yep, that’s the path of life that was laid out in front of me.

My last MAJOR life challenge was in 2007, when burnout (and an ill-fitted job) forced me to make a decision about my future. The question, “What should I do with my life?” came back and reared its ugly head again. This time, I decided to write out my ideal job, how I would be engaged, and the type of environment where I could thrive. To make a long story short, after writing that down, three days later my current position was posted and I started the position less than 4 months later. I wake up every morning, helping people write the next chapter of their story by finding their path in life. It’s the kind of transformational work where I get to be my BEST self every day!

My story isn’t much different than many of the students who start their college journey. Many of them struggle to find the answer to “What should I do with my life?” Fortunately, I have been able to take my experience as a student and as a professional and create a process to help them (amd hopefully you) identify meaningful work. That meaningful work where you take your values, your gifts and talents, and your passions to idenfiy how you will meet the needs of the world. So, why is knowing “Your Meaningful Work” imporant? Because knowing (and living) your meaningful work allows you to share your gifts with the world, make a positive contribution to others, and helps you become a better person.

Let your meaningful work help you create a college (and life) experience that matters!

meaningful work diagram, 6-10-15

So, if you were given an opportunity to transform your work and/or take it to another level, what would you do? Don’t know? During the week of July 20th, I will share five activities that have been used to help students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs, and a host of others to identify their meaningful work.

These activities have helped most students either: (1) identify the major that they want to pursue, or (2) reaffirm that they are in the right major – in their first semester! They have also been used to help professionals either: (1) identify potential work that matters, or (2) reaffirm that they are in the right position. Bottom line – these activites answer the question “What should I do with my life?”

Each day during the week of July 20th, you will be provided with an exercise to determine “Your Meaningful Work,” as follows:
Monday, July 20 – Values (What’s important to me?)
Tuesday, July 21 – Talents and Gifts (What am I good at AND like to do?)
Wednesday, July 22 – Interests (What gets me excited?)
Thursday, July 23 – Audience (Who do I want to help?)

On the last day – Friday, July 24 – you will have all of the pieces to construct “Your Meaningful Work” Statement. You will be provided a template to construct your meaningful work statement – or you can just create a statement on your own.  The statement can then be used for you and your students to decide on a major, identify potential extra-curricular activities, decide on a graduate school program, even create a side-business.

My only request is that if you plan to share this, please give credit where credit it due. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me (Bill Johnson) at whjohnso@uncg.edu or 336-207-6795. See you on Monday, June 20 to start the path on finding “Your Meaningful Work!”

8 thoughts on “Your Meaningful Work – Introduction

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Pam! Yes, we should ALL be engaged in finding our meaningful work – or at least take the steps necessary to get there! Every experience that we have – work or otherwise – leads us to where we ultimately want to do with our lives.

  1. I will be reading your posts this week – sounds like some interesting insights to be gained! I know what I want to do and am very passionate about my work but cannot get a job in my field and location at the moment 🙁 It’s looking like I will be starting my own business in order to keep doing my meaningful work. If I were to get a job in my field, I would feel well qualified and ready to go – creating a job in the field has me a bit more nervous. I am hoping this week’s exercises will help me focus in and feel more prepared.

    • Hi Carrie! Although you can’t find the job/location that works best right now, you just have to find ways to make it happen other ways. At least you know what it is that you like to do! If interested, I can share with you another tool that might provide more insight for you. This job/business/life stuff is always scary…I just hope that I can add a little sunshine. You can e-mail me at whjohnso@uncg.edu.

  2. A Meaningful Life
    Day 1 : Values
    To begin, what do I value? What do I cherish? What is of the upmost importance to my being?
    Well, first and foremost I know that I am loved so so much, and in return from all the loving I know that loving in all ways, whether large swiftly actions or small tokens, can have an astounding impact. To love others, in a more specific way than the other vague statement, can be hard at times, but also essential in going through the motions of life.
    I guess my thoughts may ramble a bit, but it’s how I think. And maybe this will all be a set of ideals rather than anything too solid or specific.
    Now, what exactly does this love entails. I have heard that there are, in the Greek language, 4 separate words for English version of love (though I cannot remember them). In the words of the Bible, which some of you may or may not agree with (up to you; no judgments);
    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
    Now, what exactly does this mean. To me, love is understanding when you can, speaking when appropriate and listening when needed. Love is helping others, again in large and small ways, without anything to gain. Love is a comfy shoulder to rest on, a slight guidance in the right direction, a helping hand in any and all situations. Love also pushes the boundaries of what is true and just, to stand up for others.
    To be honest, I have not always loved in the fashion I have explained above; however, when I have, it is absolutely beautiful what can become of the outcome. For myself, I can always improve of the extent of what it is I would like to leave on this world, in this lifetime. I know love has pushed me further than I once thought before, yet I will keep preserving nonetheless with it.
    This may not seem to make much sense to some, which is fine (I have been known to rant a bit and get carried away on tangents and so forth). I speak of love as this force of nature, this optimistic solver of everything and such. And yes, to me its true. And yes it still might be vague and unreal and impossible and irrelevant to today’s world, but I still and always will value the value of love. I simply have to continue giving what has tremendously been given to me.

    J.D.R

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