At its core, meaningful work is helping people. But that makes you think you need to save children dying in Africa. But, really, you can push papers for multinational conglomerates and feel like you’re doing good for the world. Here’s how:
1. Take care of yourself—have the basics covered.
The most important thing about making meaningful work is that if you are always worried about paying rent, it’s very hard to add goodness back to the rest of the world. Giving back to the world requires a sense of personal well-being and stability that only people who have a roof over their head can manage.
Back when I was doing what most of you would call meaningful work, I was totally preoccupied with budgeting my meager salary to make sure I didn’t run out of money at the end of the month. At the end of that stint, when I landed in the hospital for a kidney infection, it turned out I was severely anemic, and I’m sure it was because I had such a poor diet from making so little money.
So before you worry about meaningful work, you need to be able to support yourself. Your first job in life is to figure out how to do that. It takes a while. You actually have to figure out what you are good at and what you like doing. This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate your life to that work. But it means that you are learning and growing, and someone values the level of skill you have to pay you a wage with which you can support yourself, and others you might need to support.