In a world where we are inundated by messages concerning work & career, it can be difficult to find our own voice. As a coach, I’ve learned that clients often sense where they should be going next — but may choose to ignore or fight their own individuality. As contributors, we each have our own unique blueprint to success, comprised of the elements that we require to feel engaged and productive. But over the course of time, we can lose touch with our personal set of non-negotiables. We might have relegated these elements as “nice to haves” or the set has evolved and become somewhat of a “moving target”. In any case, the longer we fail to acknowledge what we require — the greater the potential to feel disconnected, frustrated or disengaged.
In many cases, we simply fail to carve out the time to focus on these elements. Additionally, we might ignore the signs that we have offended our work life core, yet continue to muddle forward. (In fact, we may have already over-extended ourselves and mortgaged our work life future.) Above all, it is essential to answer this question openly & candidly: What do I really require to succeed?
You can begin by considering general work life topics, such as focal industry, working as a sole-entrepreneur vs. within an organization, on-site vs. remote work, ideal supervisory style and travel requirements. Then move on to touch upon more specific topics. For example, 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 and specific.
These prompts about your past work life experiences may help you:
- Consider 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? What elements played a role?
- Overall, what elements seem to energize you?
- Overall, what elements may have left you feeling particularly frustrated, exhausted or unmotivated?
- Were there specific 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 might in another similar situation.
Think about your experiences and record 10 or so elements that seem vital. Then refine your list as you process. Moving forward, work towards integrating as many of your non-negotiable elements as reasonably possible over the longer-term. (Adjustments will take time).
I realize this is a challenge — and you may find that it takes time and considerable reflection to capture your list.
However, the benefits are worth the trouble. I hope you find the exercise enlightening.
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.