In the search for meaningful work, I think the key to moving forward is identifying your values. But the term ‘values’ is a bit hard to pin down if someone asks you directly what yours are. I tend to avoid the word and sneak up at the question sideways by finding out what energises people as they are talking to me: you can hear the energy in their words and see it in their body language. People come alive and fairly fizz. Values are the energy behind the goals: what do you care about, what matters deeply to you, what does a achieving a particular goal actually give you?
The simplest way to uncover what those values are is to think about when you were happiest at work. What was the specific occasion when you were totally immersed in what you were doing and really functioning at your all-time best? The clues are all there.
Still stuck? Then think about what makes you angry or frustrated at work. Which of your deeply-held values are being trampled underfoot?
Martha Beck writes about ‘Finding your own North Star’ in her book of that title. I believe that once you find your true values, you’ve found your own particular north star to steer your career by.