Your career and company are simply tools to pursue your meaning

My top highlight from Satya Nadella's book, Hit Refresh, is this advice to Microsoft's employees: "Instead of thinking of you working for Microsoft, think of how Microsoft can work for you."

If you want your work and career to be meaningful long-term and if you want to be exceptionally good at it, you should start by defining what is meaningful to you and then finding (or creating) a career or company that serves that purpose. We spend such an immense portion of our waking lives doing our jobs that it doesn't make sense any other way. 

Such clarity and pursuit of purpose don't happen by default and are rare. In today's world with infinite options, it is hard to know, with confidence, what we truly want to do without broad exploration, experience, self awareness and maturity.

Most people I know, including myself, simply pursued and chose the most lucrative or shiniest degree, career path, or company available to us. That usually works out well for many people, for a long time - it's a good way to solve interesting problems, develop skills. learn and collaborate with smart people, build financial safety and a good personal life. In the process, there's a decent chance that you'll discover real passions and purpose, just like one learns to balance a bike only when they try riding it.

However, when things get rough or boring, say when you hit a plateau in your growth, have to deal with frustrating projects or colleagues, or when you achieve financial security to not need to work anymore, you start to feel that something is missing. You realize that you have and are spending a lot of your limited lifetime and energy mindlessly climbing a ladder that you may not care much for. 

The exceptional few of my friends, who have been more intentional with their careers up front, or boldly switched tracks later, seem more consistently happier, more resilient, and overall more successful because they deeply care about the work and are in it for the long run. It's worth it to explore and be open minded, to define and revisit your meaning, and be intentional about finding a career that serves that.