A woman from Madison named Penelope Trunk writes a good blog called Brazen Careerist. I don't spend much time on career-type blogs, but scanning though some of her recent posts today, I came across an article entitled How to Find Meaningful Work. I particularly liked her point in this article that work does not give your life meaning, per se. In fact, she has a longer article on this very subject here.
I am coming to understand that the trick to this is to develop a career that pays the bills and does not suck the life out of you so you have the time and energy to devote to whatever the hell you think matters most. Sometimes easier said than done, but always worth striving for. The real hard work, and the most important part of this, I think, is figuring out what matters to you personally and then managing your life to pursue this. Don't get me wrong on this point - I get tremendous satisfaction from my job and take great pride in some of the projects that I have helped bring to reality, but without the other part of the equation, it's pretty easy to get out of balance quickly.