Fall back in love with your career
I regularly speak to women considering a professional ‘transition’ to make their working lives more fulfilling. It’s commonplace to hear of a woman starting her first career wide-eyed and energized by the thought of being a star player until her professional aspirations change with family-life. Further down the line and she might desire to travel more, or get involved in community projects for a more fulfilling later-life. But things have changed, and not just for millennials.
Many of us, with or without children, are considering a change of situation that prioritizes purpose over pay. We find ourselves thinking about a second career, a ‘side-hustle’ or business venture that would allow us to get paid for pursuing a passion. Why is our professional career – our first love – no longer making us happy?
Imagine a relationship that never progressed past first-date etiquette. If your loving partner didn’t ever see your slight neurosis that keeps you that step ahead. If your future in-laws didn’t get to see the fire inside that makes you fiercely loyal and protective. If you were never comfortable enough to let out a little snort when you laugh, putting others immediately at ease. Not being seen as the real you, you'd feel unappreciated, predictable and worried you were holding yourself back from a full life in which you were really valued for being you. Yes?
Well think about your career and if, like many, you’ve been working hard to keep your image of the perfect, cookie-cutter, first-date self, motivated for 8 hours a day, it’s no wonder why you may feel a little disconnected and in need of a change that will remind you who you really are. It’s why workplace authenticity is so important. Because if you’re checking your true self at the door every-time you enter the building, you’re not bringing your unique value to work. Not only is it detrimental to your self-esteem, but risks eroding your value to your employer and to those around you. But don’t fear, being comfortable can be just the right time to turn things around!
Firstly, let’s get on the same page. Being your authentic self at work is not about bringing the person you are on the weekend to work (unless it makes sense for your role!). It’s an awareness of who you are, where your passions lie and what drives you so that you can leverage your unique strengths to perform in your career. Creating a true north that matches your behavior to your intentions. No more ‘getting in the mood for work' or switching between your different selves. By reconnecting with your current position as the person you are today, you can create work/life harmony and a greater sense of joy.
So why now? Most of us start a new job in ‘best behavior' mode. We don't want to rock the boat, we want to fit in and match our behavior to the desires of others’; a first day is rarely the time to start challenging conventions. You need time to learn about the business and to earn respect as a smart, business savvy, trusted team player before you can confidently step forward and show your true value. If you’re feeling in limbo and don’t know how much longer you can sustain ‘this’, now may be the time to make the shift.
When you’re ready to think about a new way of doing things that leaves you feeling less conflicted, start by asking yourself the following 3 questions:
1) What do I enjoy about my current profession?
There are going to be things you love, the chances are that they're just being overshadowed by those things you don't. You may have even taken on those things you don't enjoy without even realizing. So dig deep and think of your job when you’re in the flow of things; enjoying your day, feeling a sense of achievement and being respected. It's important to allow yourself to reconnect with your career in order to be excited by the change you're going to create for yourself.
2) How have I developed as a person over the years?
Your life may look different than it did when you started in your company, so recognize the evolution that's already occurred. What new interests do you have? How have your priorities changed? What are you passionate about? How do you build and nurture relationships? This will allow you to acknowledge any disconnect that’s happened with your work as a product of external factors.
3) Where can I add value?
The purpose of considering this is to do more of what you enjoy, aligning the passions and strengths that you have with tasks, projects, and roles that are of value to the organization, no matter how small. It's important to be really clear on why your findings are valuable to the company as this represents YOUR value to THEM. It is your leverage for negotiation and will ensure your own sense of self-worth.
This simple reflection is the first step to start creating new career opportunities without a major life overhaul. It will be the ignition to living more seamlessly and purposely engaging in your professional environment. An environment where people open themselves up to sharing freely is one that inspires others and unlocks growth that benefits everyone.
‘Living a life of purpose’ and being ‘authentic’ at work don’t have to be buzz statements. Reconnecting with your older, more experienced self can bring about tangible results that make a real difference to your life and career satisfaction. Before you think to ‘jump ship’, you may want to consider if a fulfilling career is closer than you think.