Rediscovering Personal Meaning in Work
By Tim Lutenski
Many clients that I deal with are seeking to rediscover meaning in their careers and striving to enhance their satisfaction with the work they perform. I advise these clients that this is a process, which usually begins with building a better internal self, followed by taking proactive measures to implement change.
Shaping a better internal self requires disciplining ourselves to use our brain for controlled, optimistic thinking. Adopting some of the following mental shifts and changes in perspective can help foster a greater sense of meaning in work.
Learn to accept responsibility. You must have the courage to take responsibility for your work life if you are going to change. By avoiding responsibility for your actions and behavior, you relinquish responsibility and give away your power of choice.
Believe you are worthy. As you increase a sense of deservingness you will see a difference. Have positive expectations, because what you believe is what you receive. One has to be confident that they deserve something before they can truly dedicate themselves to getting it.
Visualize and focus. Envision yourself as successful and positive. Then, create an attraction and your mind will move toward it. Try to see things not as they are, but what they can be. If you are going to develop to your full potential you have to visualize it.
Drop your burdens. Most of us carry baggage from the past that hinders us. Reflect upon your work life and determine the baggage you need to unload so that you can grow. Then go one step further: reinterpret the past so that things that have been a burden actually empower you.
Seek out valuable lessons. Facing difficult situations or special challenges can be discouraging. However, try and adopt the view that difficulties can and do present an opportunity to grow. Assume that whatever you are facing at the moment is what you need to ultimately be successful. Rob the problem of its power by reframing it and changing the way you view it: it can actually help you learn something, become better, and expand and grow.
A rediscovery of work meaning should also be accompanied by action. Employing an action plan to refresh, refocus, and reinvent the work self involves several important elements, such as these.
Exercise good judgment. Use discretion as to how and when you apply your skills in the workplace so that your efforts better fit your passions. Try to make challenging tasks more relevant, negotiate or simplify duties with little value, and focus your creative time on meaningful endeavors.
Focus on core competencies. Concentrate on developing your strengths, not improving areas of low competence. Devote most of your efforts (at least 80%) to getting even better in areas where you already excel.
Initiate contact and communicate. Seek out quality people who will provide support and help facilitate your growth. Talk to them and you will form a more concrete concept of where you are going and also become more eloquent in describing it. By talking enthusiastically about passions you create a positive cycle of empowerment: your enthusiasm will feed your desire, your drive will propel you toward your goals, and you will continue to come into contact with people who share your expanded level of consciousness.
Stretch yourself. You may feel stuck because you know there is more to you than the world sees. So remember that the only way you can grow is to challenge yourself beyond your present circumstances. Stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone and focus on who and what you can influence. When you challenge yourself you will discover abilities that you never dreamed you might have.
Commit to adding value. Ask yourself how you can make yourself more valuable. This will help you view yourself not as you are but who you can be. Use your mind to create and develop ideas and find new and better ways of doing things; then, specific ways for attaining your potential value will suggest themselves.
Identify new and unmet needs created by change. Change frequently offers exciting new opportunities. Make an effort to locate and identify needs that are not yet being met and then determine how to best meet and service these.
For most people, rediscovering meaning in work, and going on to achieve an enhanced sense of passion and purpose in work, takes considerable time and effort. However, I suggest to clients this is a worthwhile endeavor by which they can nurture their talents, skills, and abilities to better serve themselves, while also enhancing work satisfaction and meaning. Sadly, many times people back away from things they want to do, from the dreams they have nurtured, because they can’t envision a clear way to bring these to reality. So the fundamental purpose in making internal shifts and taking action is to be proactively engaged: the main message is, don’t wait for life to act on you, you must act on life. In working with clients I ask them to believe in themselves when trying to rediscover meaning in their work and they will almost certainly form a better self, both personally and professionally. I also suggest that in seeking their goals, these will somehow find them. Finally, I recommend they make the commitment to rediscovering their passions and dreams in work and to patiently follow these wherever it may take them.
Tim Lutenski is an Instructional Specialist at St. Clair County Community College, in Port Huron, MI. He teaches career based courses, workshops, and seminars, provides career services for individuals, groups, and organizations, and is a volunteer who assists those with special vocational needs. Tim conducts professional seminars at conferences and for associations, writes articles for various professional and academic publications, and is Editor of Career Developments Magazine (published by the National Career Development Association). He has also produced two CDs: Seek and you will find: Your complete job search guide and The Career and Job Search Handbook for College Students & Graduates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org