As designers … [w]e have the opportunity and the responsibility to create a world where each object and experience is filled with value, where living with less but better is both joyful and meaningful.
Hugh Graham in Lasting but Not Least on A Brief Message.
To me, a career and a life of meaning involves both seizing opportunities and assuming responsibility for being part of creating a joyful world.
Obviously, design isn't the only career path that contributes towards this vast goal but I definitely believe the set of skills associated with human-centered design creates many unique opportunities and thus increases the responsibility for designers to do our part in making things truly better no matter where we go and what we do.
Just as each person has their own way of understanding, expressing concern, and offering help, different careers have varying methods and extents to which they contribute towards creating a joyful world. I realized that all the careers I've had interest in sparked passion in me because I felt that the mix of my personal abilities, the working environment, and the problem space could enable me to maximize on opportunities to make solid contributions towards "making things better" and "making people happy".
While I may not always know exactly what I want to be doing in the future (and things inevitably change even when I think I do), from this perspective, what I do not want to do becomes more clear. I don't want to be spending my time on things where I'm not positive if I'll be making things happen towards improvement.
That is part of the reason I decided against pursuing a PhD program. I only considered it in the first place because I assumed it could increase my capacity to execute on my goals more effectively. However, somewhere along the way, I became convinced that the design legs I stood on were already capable enough to do some worthwhile work, so why not see how far these legs can go?
Basically, I want to be part of making things happen; and in particular, meaningful things. What's meaningful? I find it meaningful to be part of creating a joyful world. Making things better!
What would define a career of meaning for you?
Photo credit: Joe Lencioni.