The ubiquitous advice to "follow your passion" is well-intentioned but not very helpful, says Jenny Blake, the co-creator of Google's career development mentorship program.
If you're frustrated and not sure what you should be doing with your life, she says you may be thinking about work all wrong.
"For some, the pressure to define a purpose or mission statement is stifling and causes much unnecessary angst," she writes in her new book "Pivot," which offers tips on transitioning into a new job or career.
"I recommend people follow a project-based purpose," Blake tells CNBC.
Having a "project-based purpose" is all about finding projects at work that excite you and make you feel like you're causing an impact, she says.
"Start asking, 'What projects am I most excited to tackle in terms of what I can learn the most from?'" Blake says. "'What projects will make an impact on the organization? On clients? On society?'"
Then try a small project that incorporates some of your interests. For example, if you want to work on more creative projects, pitch a new idea to your boss or ask to sit in on a meeting.
Doing these small projects will slowly steer you in the right direction, to a point where you will feel like you've found your work's purpose, Blake says.
"By understanding what's both interesting and the impact piece, people can set a project-based purpose for the next year or the next two years or even for just the duration of the project," she says.
"And that takes the pressure off of having to find one defining passion that's never going to change," she says.