How To Find Essence From Your Job And Be Happy With What You Do


I had this conversation with a friend a little while ago:

Me: what are you into now?

Friend: I sell insurance policies to people and organizations.

Me: are you happy with what you do?

Friend: even if I’m not happy, what else can I do? I’ll manage with this till I get a better job.

Me: what type of job are you looking at here?

Friend: ow any job that I wouldn’t have to walk through the sun approaching people who don’t want to talk to me to sell insurance to them.

Me: so you see why you are not happy?

Friend: why?

Me: it’s not because of your job. It’s because of what you do.

Friend: What’s the difference?

Me: This is your job: you sell insurance to people to help them bring security into their lives. Security that will save them in times of troubles. Your job’s meaning is to help people. To sell them hope and safety for their future. But how do you see your job?

You see it as merely walking through the sun and approaching people who don’t want to talk to you so that you sell them insurance policies. You’ve lost the meaning of your job–the true essence of your call. That’s why you’re not happy. You don’t need a job change. You only need a change in what you do.

As we are standing here, let’s say an old woman rushes to you and say: “You’ve saved my life. Had it not been the insurance you sold to me, I would have been dead by now or living on the streets with nothing. I’ll forever be indebted to you.” How would you feel when you hear that?

Of course, you would be happy? That is the essence of your job–to save lives from future distress. To bring security into the lives of families and ultimately make people smile in times of trouble because you got them covered.

It’s not what you do. It’s the meaning underlying what you do. If nurses only look at what they do, they’ll never love their job. Their job includes seeing the nasty and horrifying moments of men. That is not something to bring joy.

What makes nurses happy is the end result…to see the patients walk out of the hospital again with smiles on their faces. To see the magic of broken bones healed again. To see a man who was close to death regains breath and live again. That’s the essence. That’s the meaning of what nurses do.

There’s what we do. There’s meaning to what we do. The meaning is the most important thing.

So next time when someone asks you what you do, what are you going to say?

Friend: I sell hope for the future. I bring security into the lives of individuals and families so they can smile in times of trouble.

Me: How do you do that?

Friend: through the sales of insurance policies.

Me: Good. Now you’ve found your essence. Go make yourself useful.

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Tags: / Category: Job


  1. Hi Nesta! Thank you for this post. In a way it made me think about my job in a less selfish manner. Incorporating the overall meaning behind what I do adds a different level of appreciation to what can sometimes feel like just something I do to just for the sake of it. I don’t dislike my job in the least bit – in fact it is probably the first job in my adult life that suits my personality and one that I truly appreciate and really like. For me to take it to the extent of loving it, it means my own thoughts and approach toward it have to get better and looked at through the perspective of ‘what I do’ like you explained. Easy read, but very insightful.. made me think. Thank you! xo

    • Angela, I’m glad my post could strike a cord in your life somehow. Like you rightly noted, when we incorporate meaning into the things we do, even the worse day of our lives feels like victory.

      I’m a teacher but everyday when people ask what I do, I tell them; I shape lives and help kids identify what is it that they were made for. This way, even if I stand on my feet all day teaching and my back hurts, I take it as victory because a lot of lives have been shaped. It’s not what I do, but always the meaning behind the things I do gives me such great joy. Thanks for passing by Angela.

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