The Map to Meaningful Work

Whose map are you following?

In this post by Chris Brogan he talks about vision and innovation forming beyond the map that is laid out for a business perspective.

But, this is also true for our own personal lives.

During these past couple of years I have been doing a lot of thinking and have become very intentional about my self growth – hence the Unless You Care Project – this blog.

One of the aspects that has shifted, or that I discovered, is the map in which society has laid out for us.

Throughout my life, growing up, I was always told to do my homework, work hard and get good grades so I could get into a good college. Continue pumping out good grades so I can land a good job. A job that is secure, with great benefits, one where I can offer my loyalty for the next thirty years and be ‘taken care of’. One where I keep working towards that next promotion to make more money so I can keep up with my nice house and white picket fence lifestyle.

This is the most beautiful life anyone can have, right? After all, it is the American Dream.

The thing is, it’s shit!

Before I continue, I have nothing against the system’s American dream, as long as that’s what YOU want, I applaud you.

We spend a third of our lives at our workplace and to be doing it for the sake of receiving a paycheck is where the system is wrong.

A third of our life is too much time to just be going through the motions, to being a cog in a series of tasks we don’t really care about. To continue chasing the dangling carrot to maintain the lifestyle that is outlined by the system’s map.

I am not saying we all have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg and create the next Facebook or we all have to be entrepreneurs.

All I am saying is that life is way to short to be showing up to work everyday to a place you have no emotional investment in, to a place where you aren’t respected or to a place where you aren’t feeling fulfilled; personally and professionally (after all they both make up you).

The map in which society has placed on us, the system, continues to be traveled because people don’t think about questioning it – when in fact the map was created by people just like you and me.

It’s okay to abandon the system. It’s okay to pursue your art. It’s okay to go against the grain (even though “the grain” was created by the system because the system wants you on the system’s path).

I encourage you you be nontraditional, to pour yourself into what you truly want to do and just do it. Start a passion project outside of your nine-to-five (I believe we all need our own passion projects).

There might be failure, there might be naysayers from the system, but, you’re creating your own map and story.

It’s only a job if you treat it that way

If you are in that cubicle job within a large corporate, conservative and traditional company, find ways to be extraordinary just like Fred the mailman.

Find ways to make it your own and find ways to brand yourself as you. Be indispensable. Be you that makes up your position and work. Don’t let the position make up you. Tweet this

Whether it’s within your current career or not. Make it your own.

Find meaning and happiness in the art you create

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

– Albert Schweitzer

The system has led us to believe that success is getting good grades and a good job and buying a big home with a white picket fence in the burbs; and then we’ll be happy.

We all are our own artists. Often times I think the the system, and society, acts as the artist in which we, you and me, are the paintbrushes following the preconceived strokes on the canvass.

The artist holds the paintbrush.

YOU are YOUR OWN artist, grab your own paintbrush and paint your own strokes on your own canvass – THAT is what’s conventional. YOU create it.

So the beautiful thing about the map is that no two paths are the same.

Don’t live anybody else’s should’s (you should do this, you should do that). Live on your own path using your own map.


About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. Christoph Trappe

    Eric, great post. I recently read “Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea.” Basically, it talks about how companies should want stakeholders. Here’s a link to my review:

    Very relevant here, I think.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Christoph! I appreciate the comment. Great review. I agree with it wholeheartedly. I think this is why we are starting to see startup-like mentalities entering more of the traditional settings and adjusting their cultures. When you give empowerment to employees and start to think of them as stakeholders, the people become invested into the company, into the purpose. It’s not so much a monetary investment, but it’s an emotionally driven investment. Thanks for sharing your post, will have to check out that book.

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