This weekend Royals, Politicians, and the world’s elite will converge in grand celebration. Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers will line the streets of London and compete with a frenzied media pack to get a glimpse of Meghan Markle in the most extravagant job induction of our times. Of course, this work event is unusual in that it also doubles as a wedding. While there is perhaps no more compelling motivation for changing career than true love, will this job make her happy and fulfilled in the long-term and what can we learn from her example?
To answer the question, let’s look at it from a meaning of work perspective. As many commentators (or dare I say envious women who missed out on snagging Prince Harry) have pointed out, she has given up her successful acting career, primarily known for the popular Netflix series ‘Suits’ and lifestyle blog ‘The Tig’. This might seem like a very small price to become a Duchess, but doing something that we love and the satisfaction and self-esteem that flow from achievement are huge contributors to experiencing a sense of meaning.
She’ll also have to follow Royal protocol and won’t be allowed to have an active opinion in politics, which prior, was deeply important to her. Meghan’s new uniform will also be less expressive and more conservative to fit the Royal brand. A far cry from her fashionista style back in the day. Authenticity, defined as an alignment between our behavior and perceptions of our ‘true self’ is a central force for meaning in our lives and work. Without it, we suffer. You may have experienced it if you’ve ever tried to go against who you really are for very long.
But the naysayers (off with their heads) are missing all the potential for gain in meaning and happiness. Most obviously, Meghan Markle is now a megastar with an enormous platform from which she can make a positive impact on the world. This has always been important to her and it’s key for her fulfillment in her new role and changing status. Giving oneself up to something bigger than oneself can foster the deepest sense of meaning that transcends the ego.
For Meghan, and for those of us pondering a career change, even if it’s not to become a Prince or Duchess, a new job may not always make us happy in the short-term. However, with a strong motivation (like love) and by connecting our work to a higher purpose, it can bring a deeper sense of meaning, joy, and fulfillment. That is the key to long-term happiness.