Valentine’s Day focuses our attention on love. It’s a reminder to tell and show the most special people in our world just how much we care about them.
Can we say the same thing about the work we do? If you’re like most American workers, probably not. A recent article in Fortune Magazine cites a research saying 65% of American employees are searching for new jobs.
Let’s explore 3 ways that you fall back in love with your career.
Align with your Values
I can’t prove this… I bet the majority of those 65% seeking new jobs do work that doesn’t currently align with their values. Maybe the idea of the job does, yet the real day-to-day work does not fuel their fire.
Values are attributes that create feelings of motivation and typically release feel good hormones. For most people – unless you’ve done specific values work – our values reside in our unconscious mind. That means, the experiences we have are running blind to the values already ingrained in us. We might be aligned with our values or we might not. Many times, when we’re not aligned, the difficulties we face (because all careers have challenges) become stressors instead of motivators.
When you know what your values are, you can design your career to be aligned with them. One of my values is excitement. I make sure the core duties of my job excites me, because I know when I’m excited about something I drive harder and do a better job.
Step 1: Define your values and get a clearly defined list; Step 2: Align what you do with your top 5 values.
Find your Red Thread
Author Marcus Buckingham created the concept of a “red thread.” He defines a red thread as the activities you love doing in your work. He likens the activities that we do during a work week to stitching in a tapestry. We need to have red threads woven into that tapestry for us to love our job.
His research shows that our red thread activities only need to account for 25% for us to love our jobs. Red thread activities over 25%, he says, create a diminishing return. That really encourages me, because I don’t feel the pressure to love every aspect of my weekly activities. I know when I hit the 25% threshold, I’m in the sweet spot.
Doing this is simple. Step 1: Define your red thread activities. What do you love doing in your job? Step 2: Plan out your calendar to fill 25% of your work week with those activities. Then execute your plan!
Your Mindset About Work
Mindset matters. It actually matters a lot. Dr. Alia Crum, a researcher at Stanford, has been working on the science of mindset for more than a decade. Numerous studies show that when people believe something will happen through their actions, it does. I wrote about one of her studies in more depth in a previous blog post: Milkshakes and Mindsets.
The takeaway is this: if you believe that your work is going to suck, your body will deliver a physiological response toward your work based on your belief that it sucks. You’ll produce more stress hormones that will activate a stress response based on your belief around work. In a stress response state our creativity and critical thinking are diminished, which has adverse effects to our effectiveness.
The opposite is also true. If you believe that your work is fun, thrilling or [insert your adjective of choice], your mind-body connection will predispose you to liking what you’re doing. And, the more you enjoy what you do, the better at it you’ll naturally be.
Consider what it is about being in your career that you like? Maybe it’s some of the activities you do, maybe it’s the mission of your company, maybe it’s what you do for the people around you or your customers. When you focus on those aspects to create a positive mindset going into your work, the actual experience is proven to be more positive.
This Valentine’s Day, after you get your loved ones that heart shaped box of chocolates, do the work to fall in love with your career all over again.