Do you feel as if something is missing from your career? Many clients contact me, saying that while they like many aspects of their work, something leaves them unfulfilled, disengaged, and itching to make a change. They feel that their work isn’t working for them and they want to gain some insights about what’s wrong, and how to fix it. Gallup calls this the “Engagement Crisis”. Here is an approach to consider four elements that are keys to improving work life and can help you create a more meaningful, engaging, and satisfying career.
In his book, Be Excellent at Anything, Tony Schwartz delineates 4 keys to transforming organizations and engagement. He states that, “Human beings need to meet four energy needs to operate at their best: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual”. Traditional Native American wisdom identifies the four elements that comprise a human life: the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual. We function best, as individuals, when we are in balance with the four sources of energy in our beings; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. We can adapt this ancient wisdom and contemporary thinking to our work life and identify elements that will bring greater meaning, purpose to your career.
First, let’s assess how the 4 elements function in your work and identify ways you can create greater balance. We’ll write an affirmative goal to hold the intention for improvement. By writing this information down, we bring our attention to it and bring into focus. Author Henriette Anne Klauser writes, “Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that were there all along… Write it down to be clear in your commitment to possibility and then activity will create related movement. Write it down to make it happen”. Our affirmative statements start with the words, “I am”.
Element 1: Physical
Your physical experience at work can relate to safety, benefits and compensation, endurance, stress. Make a list of all the elements of your physical wellbeing at work that need improvement. Now, identify one or two elements where you can take an action that will directly improve it. Next, write a positive statement that will support your new action. For example, maybe one of your complaints is that you are often tired at work. When you think about that, you realize that you don’t get the sleep you need to be at your best. The action you decide to take is to set a regular bed time that allows you to get 7-8 hours of sleep before the morning alarms starts your day. Your positive statement might be, “I am giving myself adequate rest so I can have greater energy to do my best work.”
ELEMENT 2: EMOTIONAL
Think about your emotional experience with regard to your feelings, your connections, and your sense of positive self-worth at work. We do our best work when we feel engaged, well-regarded, and valued at work. Note your emotions at work. Then, create an action or two that you can take to improve your emotional experience. For example, perhaps you realize you rarely talk to anyone at work which results in feeling lonely or invisible. What action can you take to make a friendly connection? Perhaps the positive affirmative statement is, “I am making new friends at work.” Or, “I am letting people get to know me more.”
ELEMENT 3: MENTAL
Work gives us the daily chance to do the activities that we’ve been educated to do; to learn new behaviors and to develop new competencies. We think of words like, skills, abilities, tasks and use our knowledge to solve problems. I had a recent conversation with a woman that was typical of many I’ve had over the years. She said that she’d never thought of being mentally challenged at work; she did the job she was trained to do and day after day, year after year, she produced the same work. How can you take on new challenges, solve interesting problems, improve work flow, develop more efficient work teams or processes? What actions can you take to grow intellectually? You might affirm, “I am learning and growing in my work”.
ELEMENT 4 SPIRITUAL
Here we are referring to a sense of purpose, integrity and value. Meaning and significance at work might seem like a luxury but working with a sense of purpose brings passion, energy, and commitment to our work. Make a list of your top 5 work values and think about how you can integrate them even more. Suggested affirmations might be, “I am aligned with my values and those of my company”, “I am inspired to serve.”, or “Integrity and honor guides my work each day”.
Sorting through each of these four elements can be a significant task, so you may want to work with a career coach. A coach can help you gain insight about the targeted goals you want to set.
Reflecting on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs you have and considering how to put them into action will lead to a more satisfying experience of your work. When you think about ways to develop a more meaningful work life, putting these four elements into action will renew your career. And an energized, reengaged you will create more value – both for you and for your organization.
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