I remember checking my work messages a year ago, still reluctant to pull myself back into work mode during that surreal after-Christmas-before-New Years week, and there it was. The dreaded Employee Goals and Performance message for the upcoming year. Big Sigh. With great reluctance, I opened the documents and began filling in boxes with my professional goals for the new year.
Oh sure I analyzed specifics of what I wanted to accomplish, what activities would produce increased skills and competence. In terms of tasks, I laid out steps for what would help me be better at specific parts of my job. And I was authentic in my sincerity. However it was all sur-face-level stuff, which explained that “fill in the boxes and get it done” feeling.
If you have experienced similar feelings (and I’d be willing to bet you have), I have an alternate approach for you; one that goes beyond surface stuff and can help you experience greater work satisfaction. Here it is:
To gain traction that leads to satisfaction, examine where you stand.
What does that mean? It means to take an honest look at where you stand now. There are several ways to “stand,” which I will unpack in future posts. For an introduction, it means this: in terms of your professional situation and where you want to go, What do you stand for?
Notice the solidity of that word, Stand. It means to really stop and examine the things that are important to you in your professional realm. It means to be true to your values, those things that you know to be right for you. The beauty of where you stand and what you stand for is that it requires no rationalization, no defense. What you stand for is part of the real you. When your work objectives align with your stance, there is a new feeling of rightness, of authenticity, of excitement even. It goes past “fill in the squares” to “this is important to me; this is what I value in work”.
“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.” -Henry David Thoreau
Why does this matter? Research consistently shows that when we move from our own sense of purpose and what matters to us, we are likely to find greater satisfaction. We can gain greater traction when we first find what is important to us, and then move from that place.
5 Questions to Help You Find Where You Stand
1. What is, truly, important to me?
2. What inspires me?
3. What angers me?
4. What is important about the work I do?
5. In what ways do I bring my best, most authentic self to my work?
Bonus: To get a real “feel” for where you stand, actually stand up. Feel the solidity of how you are grounded and connected to yourself and what you stand for. Say these statements out loud (yes, out loud; research supports this):
“I stand for ______.”
Some examples to get you started:
“I stand for thorough and thoughtful analysis.”
“I stand for collaboration.”
“I stand for on-time delivery.”
“I stand for continuous learning.”
By finding your solid ground, you will be prepared for real, lasting traction.