Live a Great Life! Eight Examples of Your Life’s Work

What’s your Life’s Work? Most people assume it’s about your career. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are eight things people devote their lives to.

And the last one might surprise you because you probably already do it but haven’t considered it.

To find your Life’s Work, watch/read each example and ask yourself: Do I care deeply about this?

Plus, at the end, I share a simple exercise to help fine-tune your focus on selecting your Life’s Work.

1 Career

When you think ‘work’, most people think ‘career’.

It’s the most popular type of Life’s Work. But, perhaps only because you have a narrow definition of the word ‘work’. Traditionally, ‘work’ meant day job. Or business owner. And your Life’s Work was your resume – a list of job titles, projects and roles.

This is still a good choice. But, the seven other examples on this list also point to other ways to create and fulfil your Life’s Work.

Is your career your Life’s Work?

Life's Work - Career
Life’s Work – Career

2 Family

Just because you have a job, doesn’t make it your Life’s Work. Likewise, just because you have a family, that doesn’t automatically make it your Life’s Work either.

Naturally, you want the best for your children. And you’ll devote a lot of time and attention to doing this.

But are you truly putting in the love and care to claim your family as your Life’s Work?

The answer is not black and white. It’s not either/or. It’s more likely to be shades of grey.

As per the exercise at the end of this post, rate yourself as to how important your family is to your Life’s Work. It will always be part of it, you just have to decide to what level. And the only right answer here is to be honest with yourself about your choices.

To what degree is your Family your Life’s Work?

Life's Work - Family
Life’s Work – Family

3 Creator

If there was one theme that is common to all eight examples, it’s this: your life’s work is something you create. It’s an impact you have.

The Creator mode is a specific version of this. It’s usually something you make that you can point to – a body of work. This could be:

  • Making videos and publishing blog posts (like me)
  • Creating art (also like me – more of my art here)
  • Baking sourdough bread or brewing craft beer
  • Renovating houses
  • Or sewing quilts.

What specifically are you creating for your Life’s Work?

Geoff McDonald - Centaur
Geoff McDonald, Centaur

4 Connection

Some people build tribes and communities. Their Life’s Work is to bring people together. They revel in being with and around like-minded people. This might be as a:

  • Business Networker
  • Social Media Influencer
  • Community Manager eg The social club manager at the soccer club
  • Or it might be that you pride yourself on bringing together all of your friends and family

Is your Life’s Work building social connection?

Life's Work - Connection
Life’s Work – Connection

5 Common Good

While the Connection domain is about bringing people together for friendship and connection, the Social domain focuses on building the common good or social cause.

It’s not about the individual relationship, but rather the overall impact. They’re inspired by a cause and want to make change happen across society. This could be:

  • Volunteering your time as a football coach,
  • Raising money for charity
  • On the campaign trail for a local politician
  • Protesting for climate change
  • Or as an author creating and publishing content about how you want the world to be.

This could be as a volunteer (hobby), as a paid career or through a business. Social Entrepreneurship is a huge opportunity to make the change you want to see.

Is your Life’s Work building the common good?

Life's Work - Common Good
Life’s Work – Common Good

6 Hobby

Some of us live to work. For others, it’s a job to pay the bills so you can pursue your real life’s work elsewhere.

  • Are you working to fund your love of skydiving?
  • Infatuated with your veggie patch?
  • Or training for your next marathon?

While some may dream of turning their hobby into their career, others are heading in the opposite direction.

A few years ago I was at a talk by a former professional tennis player. He retired in his mid-20s because being a pro took the fun out of playing tennis. He hated the grind of travelling from one place to the next, sleeping in a different bed every night and always chasing time to practice. While he loved tennis, he hated the lifestyle that was part of being a player on the professional circuit.

Is your hobby your Life’s Work?

Life's Work - Hobby
Life’s Work – Hobby

7 Bucket List

An easy way to define your Life’s Work is through a bucket list.

Simply write a list of experiences you want to have during your life. And spend your time ticking them off. For example:

  • Where would you like to travel? This is the part most people base their bucket list on.
  • What activities would you like to enjoy? Is it bungy jumping, skydiving or a 10-day meditation retreat?
  • Who would you like to meet? Is it a famous politician, sports star or online celebrity?
  • What would you like to learn? Is it to read the 100 best books ever written, learn to play the piano or cook sourdough bread?

Is your bucket list your Life’s Work?

Life's Work - Bucket List
Life’s Work – Bucket List

8 Self

Finally, one you might not have thought of. It’s one we all have to some degree. And you’ll need it to achieve any of the other seven examples.

It’s working on yourself to be the best person you can be. For example:

  • An athlete working to better your performance
  • A Buddhist monk training himself through mindfulness and meditation
  • A learner who undertakes self-improvement through reading and taking courses

For me, my number one focus for my Life’s Work is to be a creator. But I’m also constantly trying to get better at everything I do. I meditate to be more present; build habits to be more effective; train my fitness to boost my energy; eat well and fast often to maintain my health and I’m constantly reading to learn more. I work hard to be the best person I can be. It’s the number two focus of my Life’s Work.

Are you your own Life’s Work?

Life's Work - Self
Life’s Work – Self

Fine Tune Your Focus to Find Your Life’s Work

Your Life's Work Rating

Which one of these eight did you choose?

Was there only one or was there more than one?

To fine-tune your focus, do thi

s simple exercise. Create a table like the one below. List the eight examples down one side and add two extra columns.

One column is your current rating of your Life’s Work. For instance, Is your career your Life’s Work? Rate this from zero to ten – where zero has no meaning for you and ten is super-important.

Then in the next column rate yourself based on how you would like things to be. For instance, you might like your Family to become a 10 and your career to drop to a 3.

Finally, write a note or letter to your future self. Picture yourself ten years from now looking back at where you are at in life. Ask yourself, what’s the one thing you wish you did differently?

Reflect on what you have written for a few days. Sit with it and toss it around like a salad. Then take some action on it.

More on How to Find and Fulfil Your Life’s Work

For more resources to find your Life’s Work, check out these other posts in this series:

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