Finding Purpose at Work

Finding Purpose at Work


There are many factors that can change the way we view our work. There are days that can feel like you’re exactly where you need to be and others— perhaps because a new boss has entered creating a rift between how you once felt to how you feel now— or company growth has changed the culture or you’re feeling it’s time for a new challenge.


Even if you enjoy your work, Don Pontecraft, author of The Purpose Effect; Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role, Your Organization, writes in the Harvard Business Review that the degree of career fulfillment comes down to how our job fits our sense of purpose, “Where we work, the role we hold, our broader sense of purpose, all three are subject to change. Thus if we want to stay in the ‘sweet spot’ among these three, we must not fear career transitions or even change itself; indeed, we must seek them out.”


To get a better sense of where you’re at on the sense of purpose spectrum, Pontecraft offers this daily exercise. Take a moment at the end of the workday to write down approximately how much time was spent in the following mindsets:


  • Job mindset. When someone has a job mindset, they resort to a ‘paycheck mentality’, performing duties in return for compensation and not much else.
  • Career mindset. This mindset occurs when an individual is focused on increasing or advancing their salary, title, power, team size, or sphere of control.
  • Purpose mindset. Feeling passionate, innovative, and committed are hallmarks of this mindset, as is having an outward-looking focus on serving the broader organization or key stakeholders. Your professional purpose feels aligned with your personal purpose.


Keep a log for a couple of weeks to see which mindset you’re falling into most often.

“If the job and career mindsets total more than 50% of your time, that may be a warning sign that you should restate or redefine your personal purpose,” says Pontecraft.


Keep in mind that no one lives in the purpose mindset all the time but spending too much time in the career job mindsets is destructive, creating a certain degree of dissatisfaction with your job and potentially could harm your reputation. Before that happens, seek a new role or organization that rebalances your equation.


We’re here to help. If you think you’re ready to make a career transition, contact an ICON concierge today to help you find your purpose. It’s more than what we do.