How do you find meaning in (or justify the lack of meaning in) your role & career?

Sorry that this is a bit of a serious if not a bit glum topic, but...

I'm certainly not looking at this with enough nuance or depth, so I'm looking forward to hearing deeper perspectives.

How do you justify that you are creating reports that seem to potentially be diminishing in value, to firms that on average don't often really provide a lucrative service to investors. I mean, in all seriousness, couldn't passive investing work for many clients in the future (but I digress). In any case, what is the umbrella that provides meaning for you in your career, and in this industry?  

I know I'm making plenty of errs and potentially reducing this field a bit much here, but can someone begin to help show me the light here?

Comments (17)

Nov 17, 2022 - 11:03am
slghtlystewpid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There's probably better ways, but this is definitely one of the good ones. I'd rather be doing this than working construction. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Nov 17, 2022 - 11:14am
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not That There'S Anything Wrong With That Seinfeld GIF by myLAB Box

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Nov 17, 2022 - 11:48am
Pug, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I worked at a GC firm for 9 months (the desk job of construction, but still on the job site). Whenever I'm pissed off at my job or stressed out, I remind myself I'm not miserable on a job site.

Also FWIW I'm in tech and think finance has more certainty of becoming financially comfortable, if not more certainty of becoming wealthy. Both have pros/ cons, but finance has that going for it. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Most Helpful
Nov 17, 2022 - 11:38am
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think to an extent, it is very case dependent. For example, I derive meaning through my role through a three-pronged approach:

1. Constantly Learning

One of the things I like most about my current company is it operates in an industry I have no background knowledge of. The space is fragmented and choppy and I am constantly learning about new things. Whether it be new product types, growth strategies, or examining how our competitors are expanding into adjacent markets, I find it all pretty interesting. From an M&A perspective, because our products are niche enough, the acquisition rationale really takes a lot of creativity when you look outside our core portfolio suite, which is something I enjoy. 

2. Solid Coworkers

This goes an extremely long way. For the most part, I really like the people I work with and respect them. When the people you work with are highly intelligent, capable of delivering, and courteous in how they treat you, it makes caring about work substantially more effortless. 

3. Tying Work to the Bigger Picture

I'm a very goal oriented person, and honestly most of my goals are not work related. By tying personal goals toward my career progression, it helps increase my desire to perform. By tying performance to my opportunity to live the lifestyle I want, buy the cars I want, and go on the trips I get excited about, it makes it far more manageable. 

It is normal to feel that work isn't something to care about, as 99% of us are just cogs in machines that we have no equity in. But mentality is critical, and finding ways to care about work will make you perform better, get promoted quicker, and grow faster. If none of the above resonated with you, it may be worth critically thinking about if you are in the right industry / role / company. Cheers

Nov 17, 2022 - 11:51am
PWM Hopeful, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Analyst 2 in IA

How do you justify that you are creating reports that seem to potentially be diminishing in value, to firms that on average don't often really provide a lucrative service to investors. 

I justify it by not requiring fulfillment (whatever that means to you) from my work and get fulfillment through other means.

I recognized a long time ago that I really, really hate being poor (which is how I started). Worrying about finances impacting food, living location, living quality, stress levels, freedom and decision making on so many levels, etc. fucking sucks. Not exactly a controversial statement, I know.  

Not being poor was a much stronger motivator (fear of the whip, read: poverty) for me than the apparent fulfillment from work that some small minority of people get (happiness from the carrot, read: work fulfillment). I couldn't even identify the thing that I am supposed to be "passionate" about, so I could either: 
a) Spend time/money/resources attempting to identify this thing that provides fulfillment from work, or
b) Get a large income, retire early, then explore my life at my leisure.

I chose B. I view it as a serious luxury to be optimizing for happiness across all dimensions of your life. I was cool sacrificing the work fulfillment dimension to gain many others. If you don't have to sacrifice this dimension and you get all the others - great! You won the game of life man, congrats. That just wasn't me. It's not like I'm doing slave labour. I just don't require "a passion" to punch a keyboard and talk to folks to complete projects.

Just had my trade dispute rejected by Schwab for a loss of 35k. This single issue alone should be a gigantic red flag to anyone who trades on their platform.

If they have a system error, and you do not video record your trading (they actually said this), they will not honour their fuck up. Switching everything away from them. Fuck this company.

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Nov 17, 2022 - 4:09pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Finding meaning is mostly a coping mechanism. Dont get me wrong, if you meet the top of major companies they are the weirdos that actually eat/sleep/breathe their industry even if it's boring as hell. A few people actually dont mind eat breathe and sleeping their industry and get joy from it.

Odds are you arent that person. I enjoy recognition like anyone, being productive, solving problems, getting to work on projects that you can say make at least some impact even if in the grand scheme of things it means nothing. But money rules all. Anyone who says otherwise is full of shit, because if someone offered them double their salary tomorrow to eat literal shit, then they would in a heartbear. Find meaning in that 

Instead, I find meaning in relationships with friends, families, hobbies, etc. Personal fitness, travel, doing new things are all core to myself to the point that I dont have an issue putting work on the backburner to support those things. Money after a certain point doesnt really matter, and if youre finding creative ways to spend it you likely are trying to fill some hole you have. I like my job, but it pales in the comparison of other feelings life can bring. 

Nov 18, 2022 - 6:38pm
Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Every dollar that's invested in the market is an extra dollar in someone's life (they have their basics needs covered) and thus of low importance for them (diminishing return), therefore you aren't doing anything meaningful or important in your job, you're just helping the US middle class (1% of income worldwide, as there are families around the world who live with $2 per month) and rich become richer - nothing noble nor interesting about that imo. But, there is also the meaningful side of finance, for example, microlending to small businesses in developing countries to help poor families exit misery, but you don't want to hear that because it implies an x10 pay cut.

So why you're even bringing up this question when it's crystal clear that you're prioritizing $$$ above other things (and you're already fulfilling this goal)? What's so bad about accepting that you're in your job for the money and you like it to be that way? I mean, your question doesn't even sound like "I have doubts about my career, should I leave it or not?", instead sounds more like "I need ideas on how to cope with my career decision".

If you don't want to quit, just see your career as The Myth of Sysiphus but with a little touch from Camus: In the face of the absurd "one must imagine Sisyphus happy", and, in the end, something as simple as "it's just a job" it's more than an acceptable answer to such questions.

Nov 18, 2022 - 6:44pm
MakinIt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you're right. it's a motivation thing. and I lose sight of my motivations when I don't find meaning in my work, but (thanks to your comment & otherwise) I remember what it does mean to me (money/prestige/"achievement" frankly) and then find motivation again. It's entirely for myself, and that's totally cool. If I want to add value to others, I'll have to find another way.   ...

Nov 18, 2022 - 7:49pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:


Yo quiero, yo quiero dinero, ayYo quiero, yo quiero dinero, ayI just want the green, want the money, want the cash flow

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Nov 19, 2022 - 9:10am
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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