Some months ago, it felt like I’d stopped doing meaningful work. Everything was just hard and I didn’t look forward to each day. My life became burdened with administration and activity. In many ways, work also became an idol as I prioritized it above all else.

Thankfully, that season has passed and I rediscovered my reason for work. In addition, I learnt how NOT to grow a business. But that’s a newsletter for another day. For now, I’d like to share what to do when you no longer feel passionate about your job. Hopefully, my experiences can help.

Work and Meaning Don’t Have to be Mutually Exclusive

I retraced my steps to find the source of my weariness and in doing so, I recalled times I’d done hard work and enjoyed it. What did I do then that was different now? Why did I feel energized? Here’s what I found.

1. Creativity is Necessary for Meaningful Work

In the early days of building Volition Cap, everything was brand new. I was transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship and so, my co-founder and I built a start-up.

We set up structures, innovated business models, recruited resources and designed processes. We launched many fresh products and the sheer pace of creativity made the work fulfilling.

To sustain your passion, you must birth new things and give room for your creativity to manifest.

2. You Need Freedom to Learn and Grow

In my former job, I built a new business line from the ground up. The unit went on to become the highest-grossing one in the company. For me, it was a chance to lead people, learn entrepreneurial skills and be entrusted with a balance sheet.

You will lose energy at work if you’re not learning or growing.

3. Some Projects Should be Time-bound

To avoid diminishing returns, the time you spend on some projects should be capped.

Once upon a time, I set up and managed the digital media units of two churches. One took two years of my time, while the other lasted a year. I executed both assignments and then promptly handed them over to someone else.

Setting a time frame for work helps you to avoid a never-ending, soul-trapping treadmill. Relish the fulfilment you got from the assignment, then free yourself and move on to the next one.

4. You Can Find Purpose at Work

Running a choir for 3 years taught me that difficult work can be fulfilling. On the inside I felt energized though tired on the outside.

Leading people to worship helped me to experience a side of God I would otherwise not have known. I saw lives transformed and because of that, I didn’t mind the overnight rehearsals or long practices. I could go on long past the set times, if required because the work was meaningful.

Even in my current day job, what keeps me happy is a chance to help middle-class Africans attain financial freedom. My work is not about abstract concepts or empire-building. Rather, I impact real people and build essential products that can transform the fortunes of families, businesses and communities.

5. Iron Sharpens Iron

Years ago, I served as the acting CEO of an NGO with members in different countries. During our projects, I worked with some of the most brilliant African and Diasporan minds. They brought out the best in me, as they were efficient and single-minded about execution.

We all played our parts with minimal supervision and there was no need to over-explain basics or to micromanage. Things just got done.

In your work, you will get weary when you have great ideas but can’t move fast enough.

6. Output Should be Commensurate to Input

I believe in delayed gratification, sacrifice and trade-offs. One ought to do what they have to until they arrive at where they’d rather be. But there’s a niggling dissatisfaction that comes from doing great work without getting an equivalent reward. If the situation tarries for too long, you will become drained by the lack of validation.

Entrepreneurs get to this point when they keep building or fundraising without making much headway.

7. Reward Yourself

There’s no point in working if your quality of living doesn’t improve or you’re not enjoying the fruit of your labour.

A lot of folks also find fulfilment because they are improving the lives of their children, parents or society. If you can’t see the money you make on yourself or in the lives of others, your achievements may seem empty.

In Conclusion

If you are dissatisfied with work, some of the things I have described are missing. Pin down what is wrong, so you can take definitive steps to get out of the rut.

Find your way back to doing meaningful work. Set a time frame for your transition and start a new project that challenges you.

For more, please read

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