Not gonna lie, it’s improbable you will find work that will fulfil you as much as you want because:
A. So long as you are looking for fulfilling work then whatever current work you are doing will become less fulfilling as a result, and one day that work become a bore also because of the rule of hedonic adaptation (that eventually we take familiar pleasured for granted)
B. Capitalism does not work so people get what they want (but so privileged people get what they want and are applauded, often for not even working but benefiting from other people’s work, by merely owning
So what to do? Settle for a sufficiently fulfilling over totally fulfilling job (barely any exist) and fit hobbies or projects into the week to compensate for the sad facts of life.
But how to know that sufficiently fulfilling job? Back up or plain delete your dream job and replace with what you dream of doing that you do already–because you have done a lot of activity doing that your brain cells will be equipped (through Hebb’s Law) to pursue that for a career, and you actually know that you like it rather then fantasise that you might be. If you haven’t got any area you recognise as special ask others, read books like Peak by Anders Ericsson a specialist researcher in top performance, enroll in institutional, or online, or earlier on ‘personal qualifications’ to gain a taste and data of your aptitudes.
What do you enjoy and are enthusiastic about?
What are you, in results, rather than wishful thinking, good at?
Combine those in a job and that job will be fulfilling for a good long while.
A “I love photography, I do photography everyday, and have for years”
B “My friends always ask me to do photos and editing for them. They love my photos, I need better equipment!”
Most of the time:
A + B = fulfilled photographer
A – B = failed photographer
B – A = unfulfilled photographer
You could be an outlier exception and take up piano and become a pianist, or photography and become a moneyed photographer because you fancy it but you will need an average of 10,000 spare hours allocated to training at it, and be working against an older therefore slower to adapt brain to achieve what you want despite the probable discouragement of your peers, or even spouse and children demanding your attention away from those hours, all the while demoralising you with their ‘good’ advice. So probably not: in truth, it can be too late.
You can have a great hobby, but without the skill to attract economic demand it will remain a hobby, not work. (Though If you want to pursue a new learning intensive route in a new area, to say, become an engineer after studying arts then sample what the job would involve and go through a course on Khan academy and genius books like A Mind for Numbers).
Practical advice: log and rate how you spend your time, then search for job titles that sufficiently match, then apply for internships, shadowing, and have the courage – and build the savings – to leave jobs you do not like to try others. If you have the money to not work all day and a gap in provision for consumer demand, consider creating your own business—but remember only a marginal majority make it; but, yes, the successes did not let that stop them. That’s the gamble.
What is important to you and what you are good at will change with time so what you do and think changes; hence what your fulfilling work may be will change also. You may be lucky in finding new job slots to fit in, or you might not.
But if not remember:
In therapy people are taught to work on their life narratives because narratives create meaning. For a poor migrant some of these bad jobs we shun are miracles, because they grow up with different narratives, different conditions, and a more generous script of expectations.
In finding meaningful work it is the narrative associated that makes meaning, not the work itself which is almost always good enough, average. You can have your own rather than borrowed narratives of what is fulfilling or useful. In studies, hospital cleaners that narrate they prevent sickness rather than clean tables. Likewise I imagine in waste disposal, that they keep the country running — that makes their work as meaningful as a football star. Objectively, they are more meaningful, but it is fashion to narrate they are not and push – in an ostensibly equal society – mistake and failure on what is absolutely essential to society.
The biggest mistake is to dream of titles and rewards without the process. If you would not find the parts of a job fulfilling, it is the wrong job for you. And neuroscience has demonstrated that visualisation of the end result is actually counterintuitive – to your brain imagining playing well, getting that job, passing that test part tricks the brain into fake-reward, without the actual income. University students that imagine high grades get lower, overweight imagine being thin lose less weight; presumably because such thinking makes one quit out of impatience.