Does your job give you a sense of purpose? If not, you may want to rethink your career path. Having a fulfilling job isn’t just important to your happiness–according to recent research, having a sense of purpose is also impacts your physical and mental health. Since Americans currently work an average of 1,811.16 hours per year, it makes sense to spend that time doing work that fulfills you.
Here are the research-backed benefits of a career with purpose:
1. A Longer Life
A 2015 study published in the journal of the American Psychosomatic Society found that people with a clear sense of purpose lived longer than those without. American and Japanese study participants were monitored over seven years. Those with a sense of purpose were less likely to die of any cause. They were also less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. Researchers aren’t sure why this occurred but concluded that a sense of purpose may have given the participants a sense of motivation that improved their physical health.
2. Better Sleep
According to a survey from Consumer Reports, 68% of Americans have trouble sleeping at least once per week. Sleep disorders are even more common for older people. Fortunately, having a clear sense of purpose can lead to better sleep. A study from Northwestern University found that volunteers who reported a high level of purpose in their lives tended to sleep better. They were also less likely to suffer from sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
3. Make Healthier Choices
You know you should make healthy life choices, like eating vegetables, exercising, and flossing your teeth. But how often do you actually perform these healthy activities? A recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology shows that people who feel a strong sense of purpose are more likely to make these healthy choices. A motivated and purposeful life is also usually a healthy one.
4. Physical Fitness
Having a strong sense of purpose can also help you have better physical fitness, especially in your senior years. A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that older adults with an above-average sense of purpose had better grip strength and faster walking speed.
5. Better Memory and Cognition
Would you like to have a better memory? How about better thinking skills? A 2017 study found that adults with a strong sense of purpose also had better memories and cognitive functioning. These results were found after researchers surveyed 3,489 people between the ages of 32 and 84. Overall cognition was greater for those who indicated they felt their lives were purposeful.
How to Find a Fulfilling Career
If your job isn’t giving you the sense of purpose you desire, you may want to start looking for one that does. Alternatively, you could seek your sense of purpose in an aspect of the job you already have. What kind of work is purposeful to you? This question is personal, and only you can answer it.
Here are some additional questions to ask yourself to help you find meaningful work. Recording your answers in a journal can help you gain some insight into what you really want from a career:
What’s important to you? Your values will play a large part in determining whether your work is purposeful or not. For instance, if you feel helping children is one of the most important things in life, a job working as a teacher, social worker, or child advocate will likely feel fulfilling to you.
Do you enjoy working for yourself or having others depend on you? Many independently-minded people gain job satisfaction by working for themselves. Others feel a sense of purpose when they know their boss and colleagues are counting on them, or gain purpose from the process of collaborating with their teammates.
What are you good at? Doing a job that plays to your strengths gives many people a sense of achievement and purpose. Make a list of your strengths, noting which tasks you enjoy the most.
Write down a personal statement of purpose. Think of this as a mission statement for your own personal brand. Creating this statement can help you focus in on the type of work that will be most purposeful to you.
Finding a career with purpose can be difficult for some people. But the many research-backed benefits of purposeful employment make the process worth it. For help finding a job with purpose, contact us.