by Dr. Patricia Thompson
As a corporate psychologist, I get into a lot of discussions with people about their careers. And, when I talk to some people, it would seem that fulfillment and work are like the chupacabra – something that is supposed to exist according to folklore, but that they have seen no trace of in the real world.
Well, fair reader, I am here to tell you this legendary pairing exists!
When I am asked how to achieve the sometimes seemingly elusive sweet spot of a career that brings both happiness and success, these are the tips I give to those who want to enjoy a wholehearted and fulfilling professional life.
- Know Thyself – Regardless of what you pursue, self-awareness provides you with a firm foundation for excellence. Reflect on your strengths, areas for growth, and stress triggers. Armed with an understanding of where you are your best, be intentional about using your strengths ad choosing jobs and projects that allow you to shine. At the same time, have specific goals that will allow you to work on the areas in which you are not as strong. This will ensure you are consistently growing and developing.
- Discover Your Purpose – What is it that you are passionate about? What do you, deep in your soul, feel that you were born to contribute? What sort of activities put you in a state of flow – the sense of being totally absorbed in your work with an altered sense of time? What things do you love so much that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid? Find ways to pursue those activities or incorporate them in your work life.
- Take Care of Yourself – Devoting your whole life to your career leads to an unbalanced and potentially unsatisfying existence, in which all of your possible life satisfaction eggs are in one basket. Take time to smell the roses, exercise, eat right, and enjoy your leisure time. You will find that engaging in self-care refreshes and renews you, and allows you to be more effective during the time you do spend working.
- Be Positive – Research shows that happy, optimistic people experience the most success. Do things that bring you joy. Look on the bright side. Be upbeat in your dealings with others. Laugh. Your mood will be contagious, and you will be “the rising tide that lifts all boats.”
- Be Authentic – “Be Yourself” has become a cliche because it is so true. Share your opinions constructively. Let your unique contributions be known and appreciated. Be genuine in your dealings with others. People are drawn to those who are comfortable in their own skin. There is only one of you in this world, so ensure you make your mark!
- Nurture Your Relationships – Not only does tending to relationships contribute to a more fulfilled and meaningful life, it is also linked to better health. And, on a practical level, the more relationships you have, the broader network you will have on which to draw in your career. In the work place, focus on what gets done, but don’t forget to attend to how it gets done.
- Experience as Much as Possible – Don’t allow fear of failure to hold you back from taking on opportunities that will stretch you. Take on challenges, and when the going gets tough, be aware of what you are learning in the process. You will find that embracing discomfort and jumping into situations for which you might not feel fully ready, will allow you to grow at a much faster rate than playing it safe.
The time when people resigned themselves to securing a job they disliked for 40 years has passed. Nowadays most of us have raised the bar and want a career in which we can be at our best. Follow these tips and you will experience greater engagement, joy, and success in your work life. I guarantee it!