Your Job Cannot Give Your Life Meaning, and Neither Should It

I have seen a version of this question asked many times, and indeed I have asked it myself:

My job feels meaningless, empty, soul-less. I want a more meaningful job where I can make a difference to the world

There is a subtle problem with this attitude I want to address in this article.

It’s not your job / relationship / boss / parents jobs to give you meaning

If you feel empty and without meaning in your life, it is easy to blame external things: Your job sucks (and maybe it does), your boss is too demanding and doesn’t respect you, your relationship is going nowhere etc.

But you cannot find joy or meaning or purpose outside of you. It’s not your job’s or your bosses job to give you purpose.

It sounds like a cliché, but you can only find your purpose inside of you and not in some external thing.

The Illusion of External Fulfilment

While external things like jobs or relationships can bring us happiness sometimes, they are by their nature transient. It’s like trying to find stability on a boat– sure the boat may sometimes be stable and even enjoyable but ultimately it is slave to the whims of the ocean.

Even in a boat, you can get stability by never going deep into the ocean. And this is the path some people choose– they never take risks, stick to the same dead end job or relationship; and while they may avoid the storms of life they slowly die inside until they are nothing but a body with no soul.

This does not mean Money is “Evil”

There is nothing wrong with the material world and enjoying it. Some religions /traditions try to denounce the world and wealth as evil and run from it, but I find that is just a way of avoidance, a form of bypassing. Like little children closing their eyes and pretending they are invisible.

And so there is nothing wrong with wanting a better job, more money, and (dare I say it?), more sex.


Your inner worth, your sense of purpose, your inner contentment and peace cannot depend on it.

You must find your purpose/joy inside. The outer world then is just a way to express that joy.

This is so important I must repeat it:

Your Joy/Contentment/Peace comes from inside. The outer/material world is merely the place where you express that Peace