Careers, like people, aren’t made in exactly one way. We all know people who knew precisely what they wanted in their career right from the get-go, but they tend to be the exception to the rule. In fact, the more people who talk with me about this topic, the more I am convinced that aligning purpose with work is essential to have a meaningful career. 

Personally, working in healthcare training enables my purpose of connecting people to opportunity through education. I recently sat down with a friend who works in education technology and asked her about the importance of purpose at the individual and company levels. 

Recently, in speaking with a friend about purpose, she mentioned that finding her “why” led her to spend a career working to make education better for students and educators. The work takes time, but when it aligns with purpose, it becomes energizing instead of taxing. 

This concept resonates with many people, and Simon Sinek’s best-selling book “Start With Why” certainly proves this point. But, figuring out your own why, let alone finding a company or industry whose purpose aligns with yours, can seem daunting. There are a few questions to ask yourself as you identify your career purpose. 

  • What Are Your Intrinsic Strengths? 
  • What Interests Would You Like To Explore?
  • What Can You Contribute To The World and How Does This Align with Personal Fulfillment?

If you are not especially fulfilled with what you’re doing now, it’s quite possible that your purpose is unrelated to your current position—and it could even be something you never considered doing. Let’s take a look at some common career myths and then ask ourselves questions to help get out of career ruts and identify our purpose. 

  • Purpose is unchanging  
  • Purpose must always be altruistic 
  • Your career purpose is your personal identity 

These myths, and many others, can stump a person who is trying to figure out a career move. Throughout my career, the specifics of my career purpose have changed over time, while my overall goals of helping others and empowering women in their careers have remained steadfast. Once myths are recognized for what they are, it becomes easier to chart your career path. Armed with your questions, and a clear idea of your career’s purpose and how that is personally and professionally fulfilling, you are well on your way to determining strong career options. 

Since most jobs don’t happen in a vacuum, people, and therefore trust, play an important role in career fulfillment. There are common elements to a company that establish trust from its leaders and throughout the organization: The team has fun, performs better, and brings forward some new approaches to solving problems for customers. Not everything works, but the initiatives that do work generate revenue and help organizations become wildly successful market leaders.

When looking for your next role, or in an interview setting, asking leaders how they build trust can be very telling and help you identify a supportive work environment. This information, combined with a clear understanding of your purpose and what’s important to you at work, can lead to a powerful career path that sets you up for success.