A Gallup poll found that seventy percent of American workers are disengaged from their jobs. People are searching for greater fulfillment in their careers and yet, we aren’t taught how to find purpose and intrinsic motivation at work.

How can we find this elusive panacia of meaningful work that pays the bills?

After getting an MBA from Stanford and being a successful private equity investor, I had climbed to the top of the ladder only to realize…crap, wrong ladder!  

I wanted more fulfilling work, but could not see a clear path to turn my passions into a career. I would think; “I like soccer, but I don’t want to be a soccer coach.” I’ve spent the last decade figuring this out, and coaching thousands of women on finding work that’s fulfilling and purposeful.

Here are seven steps to create work you love:

1. Focus on Energy Versus Output.

We’ve been taught to be productive and busy, which leads employees to feel drained and exhausted. Instead of optimizing your output, start optimizing your energy.

Try journaling every day for a week;

• When do you feel the most energized at work? 

• What, specifically, are you doing that’s giving you energy? How can you do even more of that aspect of your work?

2. Use Your Zone of Genius.
People who get to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to
be engaged in their jobs and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general. (Source: StrengthsFinder 2.0)

The key to greater fulfillment and motivation at work involves using what Gay Hendricks calls your Zone of Genius, things you naturally enjoy doing and you’re really good at.
Many ambitious, talented leaders spend too much time in their Zone of Competence, and not enough in their Zone of Genius.

To increase your motivation or that of your employees, ask the following questions:

• When are you so absorbed in your work that you lose track of time?

• What are you naturally really good at doing that you also enjoy doing?

3. Follow Your Heart and Intuition.
This is not about frantically updating your resume, mining LinkedIn, researching business plans; that’s all going external. Instead, go internal. Get quiet and still to notice your gut feelings and hear the small whispers of your soul. Hike in the woods, sit on the beach, take a long bath. These are environments that open us to creativity and inspiration.

Notice what you’re curious about, what feels good in your body, and do that. Sign up for a class, reach out to someone for coffee just because you’re curious about them, even when there is no “strategic” reason.

4. Change Starts as an Inside Job.
Creating work you love requires shifting the fears and beliefs that have kept you stuck. We all pick up on various beliefs from our family, teachers, the media, and society that are deeply ingrained in our psyche.

Once you identify your fears and limiting beliefs, they lose their power over you. Start by making a list of all the current beliefs you have about working, making money, etc. This webinar includes a free Source Your Beliefs handout to get you started.

5. Fire Your Advisors.
Often, the people who love you the most are the least equipped to support you on this journey. They are attached to you showing up in the world a certain way. Subconsciously, they don’t want you to change.

Fire your current advisors and find a new tribe of people who are objective and can support you in pursuing what really fulfills you. Join a like minded group of women in our next Create Work You Love career program here.

6. Look for Signs (Good and Bad).
There are signs that tell us when we’re on track with our life’s purpose and when we’re not.
If you’re experiencing aches, chronic pain, injuries, migraines, or some other physical symptom, this could be your body’s sign that you’re off track.

There are also positive signs and synchronicities. If you’re thinking about a new idea, and happen to run into someone who is an expert in that field, this may be a sign you’re on the right track. Start to notice these coincidences and follow them.

7. Visualize.
Visualization is a powerful tool for linking up your conscious and subconscious mind.
One study of basketball players showed that one hour of visualization is the same as seven hours of physical activity!

An effective way to connect with your deeper purpose is to visualize your long term goals and how you want to feel once you’ve achieved them.

If you follow these seven steps, you will be well on your way to creating meaningful, fulfilling work that is aligned with your values.

About Vanessa
Vanessa Loder is a women’s leadership expert, writer, inspirational speaker and energetic spark plug committed to helping you expand – and redefine – your life’s possibilities. Vanessa has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, Fast Company Huffington Post, and her TEDx talk “How to Lean In Without Burning Out” has over 120,000 views.