4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Meaningful Work

When introverts find a job or career that aligns with their values, they experience a sense of purpose that keeps them going. 

For many introverts, living a life of purpose matters. 

Deeply attuned to our thoughts, feelings, moods, and desires, the gold at the end of our well-being rainbow is a glittering pot of purpose. We find meaning when we respond to life and take responsibility for our choices and actions. And so, in many situations — whether happy or painful, momentous or modest — it can be helpful to uncover the potential value at their core. Seeking depth and substance, our introvert hearts beat to the rhythm of meaningful connections — with ourselves, others, and our calling. 

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl, a psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor, suggested that, above all else, fundamental to human nature is the search for meaning.

Along the way, we receive help from our introvert inclinations, and we: 

  • learn by observing ourself and others  
  • think deeply about life and what is important
  • read books that dive into the big questions
  • enjoy soul-nourishing hobbies
  • join communities that support who we are and what we need

This impulse applies to the world of work, as well. And the journey is as diverse as the introverts who seek it.

Are you an introvert looking to find meaningful work? Here are four questions to ask yourself.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Meaningful Work

1. What is my Myers-Briggs personality type? 

We all, introverts and extroverts alike, are multifaceted and complex. And each personality type in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator system is itself a mosaic. The labels point to preferences, not predestination, and offer a spectrum of potential insight. 

By honoring temperament and tendencies, the MBTI is a wonderful tool to support your search for meaningful work. It can narrow the field of possibility and offer a lens through which you can view past successes and challenges. It can help you explore a new career path, or expand the vistas of your current one.  

When you begin, it can be useful to know your information-gathering style. You can find some guidance on this with the second metric of the Myers-Briggs personality scale (either Sensing or Intuition), which articulates how we engage with information:

  • Sensing introverts tend to be efficient, logical, and focused on facts. They might appreciate a comparative career-list spreadsheet, or an inventory of a job’s pros and cons, to plot the journey to meaningful work. 
  • Intuitive introverts, however, typically rely on impressions and “big picture” thinking, seeking underlying patterns and meaning. They are inclined to follow their instincts and likely able to visualize and imagine whether a job might be a good fit.

(Not sure of your Myers-Briggs personality type? Take a free 10-minute assessment from Truity here.)

2. Does this work resonate with me?

When you’re considering a certain job or career path, it can be helpful to take a moment to check in with your feelings. As you do, ask yourself some more questions: 

  • Do I need work that feeds my mind, my body, my heart, my soul? 
  • What talents, experiences, passions, and fears do I bring to the equation? 
  • What are my strengths and vulnerabilities? 
  • Do I need work that measures achievement or simply offers the feeling of a job well done? 
  • What are my current family and social responsibilities?
  • If money wasn’t an issue, what would I do?

Meaningful work helps us explore and fulfill our sense of purpose, something we “quiet ones” especially value. 

It also holds personal value — including identity (how we see ourselves), self-esteem (how we feel about ourselves), relevance (why this work matters), and income (financial compensation for our effort). 

Additionally, it holds proximal value, creating ripples of positive impact in other areas of life, including for one’s health, family, employer, and community.

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3. Does this work align with my values? 

As introverts, we need time alone to rest and recover, but each of us has someone (or something) outside of ourselves that matters. 

So ask yourself: Whom do I serve? 

Self, family, community, God — there is no wrong answer here. Knowing who, or what, we serve, connects us to the inherent value of any job. When our work aligns with our values, we experience a sense of purpose that keeps us going. 

Whether you work to shelter your family or to heal the hurting; to fill your soul or to fill the pantry; for retirement or for the weekend; to satisfy your intellect or to serve in your faith — know where your nobility lies. This way, the work becomes its own reward. 

4. What do I do in the meantime? 

Sometimes we know where we want to go — a specific career path that will bring us the meaning we crave — but just can’t see how to get there. 

But there are ways to feed your soul in the meantime. Quiet reflection, solitary activity, and soul-driven hobbies offer introvert-friendly ways to grow roots for the future. And there are many concrete ways to prepare for the job you ultimately seek:

  • Volunteer in your chosen field. Not only will you gain experience, references, and insider info, but often when companies hire for paid positions, they seek candidates internally. Volunteering, of course, has the added benefit of helping others while you help yourself.
  • Take a class related to your future vocation. There are many free, university-level courses — recognized in many industries — available in open, online platforms, such as edX. They remove barriers of cost, time, travel, and proximity, and allow you to sample, virtually risk-free, new areas of learning and potential employment.
  • Click and swipe. Even something as simple as rejiggering your social media newsfeed can pay off unexpectedly: Follow companies, people, and sites that deliver information (and motivation) about your desired field straight to you. For example, if you are a writer, follow authors whose work you admire and pages that highlight writing tips and contests. If you are a scientist, follow the latest in scientific advances, research, and awards.

Remember to Keep the ‘Me’ in ‘Meaningful Work’

The road to meaningful work is often interrupted by dead-ends, detours, and potholes. Often, current circumstances require that we focus on a paycheck, not emotional profit.  

Even when working in our chosen field, we might experience a mismatch between our ambition and our job description, or be required to do annoying tasks, or have to settle for what is available in our community. 

But, in the meantime, remember Frankl’s advice: Engage with life and take responsibility for your own movement toward meaning. 

In life and in work, honor your unique and powerful introvert intelligence — and keep the me in meaningful.

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Genevieve Wynand is a writer and editor living in Vancouver, BC. Her work has appeared in Modern Haiku, Presence, Frogpond, Haiku Canada Review, Prune Juice, Haiku Page, and The Helping Hand Anthology. And in 2020, she won first place in the Haiku Invitational, Vancouver division. Genevieve is an editor for Pulp Literature Press, and holds a degree in Psychology and English Literature. Coffee, words, and quiet, interrupted by the occasional yoga class, keep her introvert heart happy.