As a coach, it is essential to reflect on my work life and learn from their experiences. Ultimately, giving advice without introspection can be called hollow and hollow. As with most career trips, there must have been highs and lows. I filled roles that were mostly lavish, where the work felt like an extension. I also found myself in roles that were challenging from the start, leading to doubt and exhaustion.
Overall, no matter what the cards hold for us – there are constants that need to be present to sustain us. These elements provide the foundation to both last and expand.
Here are some I noticed.
- Practice radical self-knowledge. I’ll be blunt. I refer to this dynamic only as radical – because we usually fail to truly understand ourselves, which profoundly affects our journey forward. Of course, no one can fill it for you. (Self-knowledge is basically love work.) It starts with monitoring your levels or energy, and then understanding what nourishes the soul in your workplace and what ultimately drains it. It is constructed in pause moments to reflect on how we respond and change. There is no substitute. (When working with teams, we never deploy in the dynamics of collective teams until we complete the process of personal discovery).
- Work where your skills and strengths are valued. Organizations are needy creatures, offering rewards (both internal and external) when specific skills are required. For most of us, we find ourselves in situations where the match between our skills and the current needs of the organization does not exist. Know that your strengths remain worthy – they simply do not match the business landscape of the organization in which you currently work. Acknowledging this fact can protect you from difficult self-judgment and can set you free to move forward to thrive elsewhere.
- Find career supporters (other than yourself). Self-reliance is undoubtedly an important aspect of career development. For example, you need to be able to reflect on and communicate your core needs and goals. However, other perspectives of what is developing for you in terms of career will benefit your journey (a 30,000-foot view, for example, is essential). This article Published in HBR, properly discusses the idea of a “board” in his career. These will be people who do not work with you directly, but are able to consider career matters when needed. Start with 2 or 3 people who may offer opinions that you trust and respect. Try to avoid making career decisions in a vacuum. It will always hurt.
- Make it a habit to imagine your future. One of the most useful articles I have read in the last ten years is this: You need to practice being your future self This piece tells the story of how we get stuck in the context of our current career and fail to imagine ourselves otherwise. While it is good and beautiful to deal with current problems at work, it does not leave little room for what may come next. Until we take the time to ignite our imaginative forces about working life – it can be hard to grow.
- Finding moments of excitement. Personally, I am fine with performing the difficult, and sometimes tedious, tasks of my job. However, I find that moments of excitement are necessary to sustain me. A beating heart before a client presentation. The thrill of a new data set. Everything that excites you at work should be present, if at all possible. These moments may indeed be rare – but they fuel the soul of working life.
Did I miss something? Please share it in the comments.
Dr. Marla Gotschalk is an industrial / organizational psychologist and spokesperson on the dynamic nature of work life. The LinkedIn Influencer Program Covenant, her consulting practice helps people, teams and organizations build stronger foundations for work life through the practice of core stability. Her thoughts on work life have emerged. Also in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, BBC Work Life, Quartz and the Huffington Post.