Building a Purposeful Career
Align your skills, the causes you believe in, and the impact you can have on the world around you.
Happy ‘23 humans 👋 We hope you’ve some quality time to switch off, and that the new year is treating you well!
Creative madman, James Victore, is renowned for saying that “things that make you weird as a kid will make you great tomorrow.”
What he means is that the things that make you come alive already exist within you. Building a purposeful career is the process of activating these, and finding alignment between your skills, causes you believe in, and the impact you can have on the world around you. In the process, our everyday lives get a huge glow up.
In our first dispatch for the year, we’re diving into (you guessed it) – how we can find purpose in our work. Keep scrolling for 10 things you should know about building a purpose-driven career, our favourite resources & job boards in this space, and an event with our friends at Ripple, which will talk about social impact jobs that you didn’t know existed 👀
As an aside, if you’re looking for a way to acknowledge and celebrate First Nations people tomorrow, be sure to head over to our roundup of Survival Day & Invasion Day events 🖤💛❤️
That’s all folks – enjoy!
10 things I
hate about you love about purpose-driven careers, by Skye Riggs - Co-Founder of Ripple
You spend ⅓ of your life at work (something like 80,000 hours) – so pursuing a purposeful career is a great way to maximise the positive impact you have on the things you care about most. Plus, it can bring you greater fulfilment and joy to your life, helping you to do better work and create even more impact. Triple impact 🎉
There are so many exciting paths to pursue when it comes to purpose-driven work (you should totally do it!). Being an activist or working for a non-profit is just the tip of the iceberg (one that we should 100% stop from melting) when it comes to the purpose economy. You can explore everything from climate tech and ethical finance, to community management in the circular economy, data roles in human rights, or communications for a social enterprise tackling gender equity. The point is, if you have something you care about, there are a myriad of opportunities and roles that exist where you can align your skills to help tackle these issues.
You don’t have to work in the area you studied or started working in. It’s likely that you’ll have more than a dozen jobs across multiple sectors. There can be a bunch of non-linear stepping stones (zig zags) and things that aren’t quite the right fit (“fails”) in between, and that’s a good thing! It’s the sum of these parts that add up to a career, and it’s the overall trajectory that you need to be intentional about (more on how to do this later).
How do you know if you’re on the right path? Check your compass. You’re not only likely to work across multiple jobs and sectors, but in most cases, the causes or issues you want to take action on won't be limited to just one thing. So, what’s the common denominator? Generally, your core values won’t shift dramatically, and these can be an incredible north star and anchor as you navigate a purpose-driven career (see aforementioned zig zags and fails).
Start with your passion, but please don’t end there. Passion is powerful and will carry you a long way. It’s essential for staying the course when tackling complex issues. However, passion alone is not enough to create impact. Consider what your strengths, experiences and skills are and how these can be applied to best generate impact. Additionally, always be community led – the people impacted by the problem know best.
Building a portfolio of experience will help you break into the area you want. In addition to jobs, things like volunteering, advisory or consulting, community work, international programs, or accelerators can help you gain relevant experience towards your overall purpose-driven career goals. Social innovation and the future workforce both require creative problem solving, and expanding your exposure to different problems and sectors will enable you to offer a broader perspective necessary for innovative problem solving. Knowing where to find these can be hard, which is why we curate all these types of experiences on our Ripple Opportunities Board (coming soon).
Establishing a peer network that shares your core values is one of the most powerful things you can do to set yourself up for a purpose-driven career. If you care about social change, you’ll likely have heaps of ideas. Bringing these to life will take collective wisdom, and you can’t predict what you’ll need – so having an awesome crew of people you trust and who trust you is essential.
Purpose driven work will become the norm. You can be part of the movement to make it happen. You can help do this by advocating within your current workplace, using your consumer power, and actively participating in democratic processes (in addition to voting).
Even if you can’t find the right fit now, you should still get started (because some of these roles don’t even exist yet). For example, I got to work at Airbnb helping non-profits leverage their platform to engage new audiences and generate revenue. However, Airbnb didn’t exist when I studied community development and was working in roles that eventually gave me the right skills to be a good fit for this opportunity. Taking action in a way that aligns with your values and purpose will eventually lead you to the opportunities that make sense for you, and enable you to maximise your impact.
Don’t rule yourself out because you’re not “expert” enough. Focus on growing your experience and moving towards where you can create the most impact. To shift systems, we need everyone involved and taking action is the best way to grow your expertise. When it comes to impact, there are many frameworks and levers for change. Top level, go beyond asking 'how much' and ask – ‘so what?’
Recommended reads & resources
Read about all things purpose, with Designing Your Life, Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life, Ikigai, and Doing Good Better
New year, new you. Find a job on Ripple Opportunities, Pro Bono Australia, Ethical Jobs, B Work, 80,000 Hours, or Escape the City (UK & Europe)
Be inspired by other humans doing good work in the Humans Of Purpose podcast, 100 Climate Conversations, and Dumbo Feather
Get to know likeminded people in the Humans For Good community, or have a look at our list of other impact communities around the globe
Level up with courses around social impact topics by Acumen Academy, University of Cambridge, Small Giants Academy and University of Oxford
Spend your time carefully and check out this exploration of time management in the face of human finitude (this one hits hard)
Have other suggestions? Join our Slack community and add them to the #reads-and-resources channel.
Food for thought
“Living coherently doesn't mean everything is in perfect order all the time. It means you are living in alignment with your values and have not sacrificed your integrity along the way.”― Bill Burnett, Author and Academic
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman, Theologian
"Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve."— Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
"Your career is like a garden. It can hold an assortment of life's energy that yields a bounty for you. You do not need to grow just one thing in your garden. You do not need to do just one thing in your career." — Jennifer Ritchie Payette, Author
"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."— Gloria Steinem, Journalist
Wanna learn more?
Ten impact guides. Two minutes each. Join us online on Tuesday the 31st Jan (6pm - 7pm) to hear from Humans For Good x Ripple trailblazers sharing the unexpected skills, fork in the road moments, and decisions that helped them forge purposeful careers.
RSVP on LinkedIn to be there ✌️
Thanks for reading and sharing!
Humans For Good is a platform for anyone with an interest in social impact and innovation. We believe that a bit of good can go a long way, and hope to mobilise purpose-driven people to action via our newsletter, community and database.
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Until next time,
— Georgia, Todd, Harry and the team from Humans For Good
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