In a world where we are inundated by messages concerning work & career, it can be difficult to connect with our own needs. Clarity is vital to build work life alignment — and if you are struggling in some way (feeling disconnected, exhausted or frustrated), know that something foundational may have been overlooked.
As a psychologist and coach, I’ve learned that clients often have a sense of why things feel off-track, but they may fight or even ignore their instincts. We each have a work life blueprint, comprised of the elements that we require to become engaged and productive. Yet, over the course of time we can lose touch with our personal set of non-negotiables. We might relegate these elements as “nice to haves” or they have become somewhat of a “moving target”.
This can create a host of issues.
The longer we fail to acknowledge what we truly require to excel — the greater the potential to feel frustrated, disengaged or disconnected from our work lives.
Carving out the time to focus on these elements is critical. In many cases, we over-extend ourselves and mortgage our work life future, without completing this exploration. Above all, it is essential to answer this question: What do I personally require to succeed?
To explore your work life non-negotiables — complete the following exercise from The Core Training Series. Begin by reflecting upon general work life topics, such as focal industry, working solo vs. within an organization, on-site vs. remote work and ideal supervisory style. Then move to consider more specific topics, such as needed rest, pace of learning/development or opportunities for creativity.
Remember the list of identified elements is uniquely your own.
Be honest. Be specific.
Craft a vision of the elements that you require to excel.
Follow these this prompt to help you: Broadly considering the roles, events and conversations that were remarkable in some way or have had a significant impact upon your work life.
- What stands out about these experiences? What was happening at the time in life and at work? What elements played a role in your reaction to these experiences?
- Overall, what elements seem to consistently energize you?
- Overall, what elements leave you feeling frustrated, exhausted or unmotivated?
- Were there elements that caused you to leave (or consider leaving) a role or organization?
- Were there specific elements that caused you to remain longer than you would have in another similar situation?
- What elements draw you toward a a role or organization?
Remember to take notes. Try to record 5-10 elements. You can refine your list as you process further.
Respect your list and attempt to integrate as many of your non-negotiables as reasonably possible over the longer-term. (Adjustments will take time). Remember this is a challenge. You may find that it takes time and considerable reflection to identify/align your list with your work life.
However, the potential benefits are worth the trouble.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her training series The Core — helps people & organizations build a stronger work life foundation. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.