Organisations, for the most part have come to realise that what talent today really wants more than money or recognition, is meaningful work. Employees want to be a part of the ‘bigger picture’, they want to contribute their strengths to the greater good, to leave a legacy and to feel passionate towards what they are doing each and every day.
What makes this challenging is that we all view meaning through different lenses, we have different values and at least 2/3 of us aren’t aware of our core strengths. Furthermore, each generation defines meaningful work differently. It’s difficult to become a part of the ‘bigger picture’ if we don’t even have a foundation or a framework from which to draw.
Many of us are on a journey to the self, an exploration into who we truly are, what we truly want, where we want to be and how we want to be spending our time. On the one hand, it can be difficult to do this within the confines of an organisation and on the other, there are some organisations who encourage this self-discovery; the latter being the preferred employers of choice. Regardless, it is up to the individual to drive this journey and there are a few things that you can do to make a start.
Journey to Self
Complete a values exercise and determine what your core values are. We generally know what’s important to us, actually taking the time to identify values and understand what they actually mean to us is another story. Knowing what your values are increases your focus, improves your clarity, helps you make decisions and drives your motivation. (1)
Complete a strengths assessment. We typically think we know what our strengths are, but have you every completed an assessment to put names to them and develop a language surrounding what you enjoy doing and what gives you energy? People who know and use their strengths are happier, more engaged and more likely to achieve their goals. (2)
Draft up a job description of your ideal job including day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. How would your strengths be operationalised through your dream role?
Reflecting on your dream job, are there any competencies required that you don’t possess or perhaps need to improve? Consider if this requires further on-the-job experience or if there are external options for developing these skills further.
What activities do you currently find meaning from? What lights your fire, strengthens your resolve and encourages you to get out of bed each day? Can you do more of it? According to Sonya Lyubomirski 40% of our happiness lies in our intentional activities, the more we choose happiness, the happier we become. (3)
Working with a mentor/coach has been extremely helpful for me on my own journey, particularly someone who challenges me and holds me accountable. Someone who holds up the mirror to remind me that I’m on the right path, that good things are only on the horizon because of my actions and I am doing what I love, working with people that I like, under my terms. Essentially having a mentor/coach guides you on your journey and corrects you when you go off-course.
It’s a long journey, but boy am I glad I started it.
(1) Feeling Stuck? 5 Reasons Why Values Matter. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-naumann/feeling-stuck-5-reasons-why-values-matter_b_9075222.html