Finding Purpose Beyond Paychecks

Life is about money, for most people. 

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, humans are wired to fulfil their needs and wants, starting from deficiency needs such as physiological and safety needs, and progressing to growth needs such as esteem and self-actualisation. In order to ascend this pyramid and meet each tier’s requirement, individuals often engage in work and provide their labour in exchange for monetary compensation.

However, it becomes apparent that after a certain point, money alone cannot effectively bring fulfilment. Beyond a certain threshold, the comfort money brings begins to follow the law of diminishing returns. Money is not everything, and similarly cannot be your sole motivator for professional growth

This shift away from the money-oriented mindset became even more apparent when Citadel Search spoke to candidates post-pandemic. It seems prior to the pandemic, our senses had been dulled to finding meaning in work beyond the monetary. However, there is now a new growing consciousness regarding our definition of work and meaning. 


Don’t Be Mistaken

It is perfectly normal to consider salary as one of your motivating factors at work. It is an undeniable fact that compensation has an impact on every individual’s motivations. In fact, the EY 2023 Work Reimagined Survey revealed that 21% of those surveyed cited better salary packages as the top reason for considering making a career move. (EY 2023 Work Reimagined Survey – Webcast Deck)

Fair compensation demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to reward and display their appreciation towards employee’s contributions. When appropriately rewarded, employees feel valued. This leads to an enhanced motivation to produce quality work, as well as an increased job satisfaction.  

Only a Satisfier, Not a Motivator 

Referring to Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory which identifies two distinct sets of factors in the workplace that add to or detract from job satisfaction, salary falls under the category of hygiene factors and not motivation factors. The former encompasses a set of factors that leads to employee satisfaction and motivation specific to the job, whereas the latter refers to factors that decrease employees’ dissatisfaction toward the work environment. This suggests that if the organisation does not practise pay equity, employees will leave and the organisation’s ability to attract and retain the talent pool will be diminished. 

Don’t Be Blinded By Your Pay 

While money can be a significant motivating factor, you should not treat it as the only driving force in your career. If you rely solely on monetary compensation to stay motivated, you may find yourself feeling unfulfilled rapidly. Compensation should be viewed as a short-term incentive, rather than a sustainable way to motivate yourself or benefit your organisation. 

At Citadel Search, we work to uncover the motivations behind every candidate’s desire to make a move. In our journey, we have come across and partnered with many candidates who are willing to look beyond the paycheck. When talking with them, we learnt that they have bigger motivating factors at work, and that they value other factors such as having a vibrant work culture, nurturing leadership or finding fulfilment in the job and purpose served. You will be surprised, some of our candidates do not even mind leaving for a lower paycheck in order to make a bigger impact. 


Finding Purpose & Meaning 

In a world driven by material success and financial gains, it can be easy to fall into the trap of prioritising a job solely based on its pay. However, beyond the numbers, there exists endless possibilities where your unique talent and abilities can make a real impact on the world

When you seek genuine fulfilment in your job, you will be able to build a more sustainable career pathway and better fulfil your self-actualisation needs. Here are 4 strategies you can take to find meaning and purpose within your workplace. 


1. Discover the Impact of Your Work 

What is the core purpose of the job that you are doing? 

Instead of blindly following standard operating procedures and guidelines, take time to reflect and understand how your contributions make a difference, no matter how small. Does your work benefit another employee in the company, provide additional value to your customers, or leave a positive mark in the world? 

Engage in conversations with your colleagues, supervisors, customers, and other stakeholders to gain insights and feedback on your performance. Hearing from different perspectives will help you realise the impact of your work on others. Recognising the value you bring can provide a stronger sense of purpose and ignite your motivation. One’s sense of fulfilment and enjoyment at work is found when our personal work is benefiting someone else or a group of people. It is a call of doing, not just for ourselves, but for others as well. Do you agree?


2. Nurture Relationships and Collaborations

Meaningful relationships play a pivotal role in creating a fulfilling work environment. Cultivate strong and genuine relationships with the people around you, forging bonds with those who share similar values and inspire you. As you build your community and network, you will develop a stronger sense of belonging and purpose within the workplace. Such collaboration not only enhances your mindset and quality of work, but also provides a solid and valuable support system that is hard to come by. 


3. Embrace Learning and Growth Opportunities

Step out of your comfort zone to seek learning and growth opportunities. Continual development is a powerful catalyst for finding meaning in your job, especially as you explore different avenues to contribute to your organisation or a greater purpose. As you widen your horizons and hone your skills, you can unlock new opportunities and serve as a bigger contributor to your organisation. Keep an open mind and readily invest in your growth. 


4. Find Harmony in Work and Life 

Have you uncovered your purpose in life? This is a question we all wrestle with and can rarely answer easily. In your pursuit of discovering your reason for living, perhaps you can consider finding your Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that combines the terms ‘iki’, meaning ‘life’, and ‘gai’, meaning ‘worth’ or ‘purpose’. When combined, this term translates to a person’s purpose, meaning or worth. The Venn diagram below illustrates the four elements of Ikigai, which is the point of intersection between what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid for. Every individual has an Ikigai, something that they are passionate about and has the potential to benefit others. It’s only a matter of finding it. Using our helpful diagram, take some time to reflect and find your calling.

Take the dramatic career changes you’ve watched in movies or heard about it online with a pinch of salt.  Your pursuit of a dream job does not have to be so extreme. Look to your current or previous job experiences and consider which types of responsibilities or tasks give you the most pleasure and joy. Use the following guiding questions as a start:

  • Do you enjoy managing a team or prefer working independently? 
  • Do you enjoy solving complex issues or prefer giving presentations? 
  • Do you like directly engaging stakeholders or prefer to read pages of documents and reports? 

By asking yourself these types of questions, you can slowly sift out aspects of your work you enjoy and start to gain a sense of your Ikigai

You deserve a job that serves your life. 

You deserve a life that serves that higher purpose.


Salary is Important, But Not Everything 

While salary is an important aspect of any job, individuals who seek fulfilment and a deeper sense of purpose understand that financial compensation alone is not enough. Finding meaning and purpose in the workplace requires you to reflect and align your personal values with the organisation’s vision and goals. 

At Citadel Search, we understand the importance of finding meaningful and purposeful work. Similarly, we pride ourselves in connecting talented individuals like you with organisations that are aligned with your values and are willing to support your aspirations towards a fulfilling career. We believe that every individual stands a chance to be placed in his or her desired position and we find meaning and purpose for every successful placement and positive feedback received from our candidates or clients. 

If you are seeking a meaningful job that goes beyond your paycheck, we invite you to partner with us. You deserve so much more! Find a job that allows you to contribute to your strengths so that you can fulfil that higher purpose! Our dedicated team will work closely with you to discover where your motivations lie and match you to a position that meets your needs and preferences. Contact us and take the first step in writing your own career story today. Together, let’s embark on a fulfilling career journey and unlock possibilities. 


Citadel Search is an executive search firm of choice at the forefront of bridging capabilities to unlock possibilities. In the course of working with many top tier MNCs, we have our ears to the ground on pressing issues, and hence seek to empower our clients to close gaps between their organisation’s talent requirements and what top talents are looking for.

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