Welcome to improving your career wellbeing part 2.
A couple of weeks ago, Improve your career wellbeing part 1 introduced the topic of career wellbeing and took you through the first 3 of the 7 elements:
- Your career progression
- your relationships at work
- your relationship with the organisation
Today I want to give you some pointers on managing the final 4 elements of career wellbeing so you can strengthen your strengths and manage any risk areas that you find when it comes to your career.
My name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, the strengths guy, I podcast first thing each week to catch you at that point of transition from weekend to work to get you off on a strong footing. My podcasts focus on living a positive, productive life both at work and outside.
First, a quick reminder from last week’s blog that, in my view, the overall landscape of careers today present greater opportunities for us than ever before (even though, right now, the pandemic is a tough time for many). The growing appreciation of workplace diversity (albeit that consciousness has been a long time coming and will always be a work in progress), combined with technological improvements enabling geographically distant collaboration and most of us having longer careers (perhaps due to changes in pension provision) mean that now, even the notion of ‘career wellbeing’ is actually a thing. It’s something you can even say in a sentence and people won’t think you’re weird.
So, the second set of career wellbeing factors to get your career onto the soundest possible footing are:
- your work performance
- your sense of purpose
- your learning and development
- your work-life blend
Your work performance
Let’s get to it with your work performance. When you’re considering your career wellbeing you want to feel that you’re doing a good job. That you’re valued, that you’re moving your career in a positive direction and opening up opportunities for now and for the future.
I have three top tips to help you maximise your work performance:
- be clear on your objectives/outcomes/essentials of your role
- play to your strengths – make sure you use them to achieve your best levels of performance
- get feedback as you go, on strength areas and improvables
For many people, there is too much assumption about what they feel is expected of them in their role. I was with a coaching client recently who has just stepped into one of the biggest global roles in his organisation. One of the things we talked about was making sure to be clear on expectations from the business and from his new boss. What the objectives and expected outcomes of his role actually are.
You might think you know but being crystal-clear is essential if you’re going to be able to point your strengths and skills towards something concrete and valued. So be clear on what’s expected. Make sure it’s agreed and documented and keep revisiting those objectives and role outcomes with your boss as often as you need to make sure they’re still relevant.
Play to your strengths
For far too many people still aren’t finding roles which allow them to play best to their strengths and even when they do, they’re not necessarily playing to their strengths every day.
If that’s you, the shame of it is that it will, over time, reduce your engagement with work and mean that you can’t be your most authentic or your most productive self. So keep your strengths close and make sure that you’re checking in with yourself often on how much and how well you’re using them.
For example – am I using my Collaboration strength in this conversation and how well am I using it? Could I bring my Strategic mindedness in here to help with long term planning?
You’ll need to communicate your strengths to colleagues and your line manager so that they understand how those strengths can help them. Once you’re more open about those qualities that bring you energy and contribute value, ask for feedback. How well you’re using them as well as asking regularly how well you’re doing in your role. Get feedback, get it often and learn from it.
Find your sense of purpose
My second main area of career wellbeing this week is to find your sense of purpose. My podcast at Season 6, episode 6 is on Ikigai (essentially a Japanese word for purpose). Finding your purpose, the ikigai way, will actually extend your life and that’s fact!
To briefly summarise, you need to find out 4 things:
- what you love
- what you’re good at
- what the world needs
- how you can make money
It’s at the intersect between these that ikigai resides.
What you love is the stuff that you really really enjoy, the thing that you could do for work that would make it feel like not work.
What you’re good at relates to your strengths and skills – what energises you, where you’ve built skills up over the years and where you can therefore make a unique contribution.
What the world needs relates more to having a higher purpose beyond just your own experience, something more meaningful which you can point your energies towards.
And finally, you need to get paid (well, most of us do) so being realistic about all these things and how you can make money from doing them has to be considered. You might also want to listen to my podcast at Season 7, episode 9: Find your joy, as there are more tips there.
Your learning and development
Moving on to my third area of career wellbeing – learning and development. My advice, to maximise your sense of career wellbeing is to focus your development primarily on your strengths. Most of us still spend more time trying to minimise our weaknesses (what we’re bad at) and don’t have much energy left for developing out our strengths (what we’re already probably good at and could gain mastery in with time and focus).
Developing your strengths further, while it might initially seem self-indulgent, is actually going to give you, your career and your employer much greater payback than a focus on weakness. If you want some more evidence for this, you can listen to my podcast at Season 7, episode 6 on why you should be directing your learning towards your strengths.
If you’re sold already, then my advice on stretching your strengths is to follow the 70: 20:10 model for development. Spend 70% of your time in direct practical experiences, 20% of your time observing experts in the field and bringing in mentors and partners who can give you feedback and 10% of your time spent on taught content such as online courses, TED Talks, books, youtube etc.
As a practical example, say I have a Strategic mindedness strength. I would spend most of my development energy dollar on finding practical ways I could apply that strength to get better at using it – strategy workshops, strategic planning projects and so on. To get to the 20% on enrolling others, I’d look around at work for role models in strategic thinking and pick their brains on how they do it. Finally, I might look for some high-quality online content on strategic thinking to support me and give me some models and tools to try.
Your work-life blend
The last of the 4 areas for today is work-life blend, never more important than today when homeworking has become the default or even a necessity for many. Four things to consider here to maximise your career wellbeing, all of which are covered in more detail in my podcast on Work-life balance or work-life blend at Season 3, episode 7.
The things to work on are:
- firstly, get clear on your boundaries – time and physical boundaries, so you don’t suffer too much from work and life becoming one big messy whole
- secondly, learn to switch off – from work and from tech. Find things you can do that will allow you some you time and space for you
- thirdly, you’ll need to lose the guilt so you don’t feel bad for having an actual life or leaving that oh so important task for tomorrow
- Finally, manage your energy – take a walk, eat well, exercise and know how to organise your work to make the most of your own work preferences, morning or evening, short bursts or long haul.
And that is it!
We’ve covered your work performance, your sense of purpose, your learning and development and your work-life blend. That’s the fabulous 4 after the terrific trio last time. Take one tip from each of the 7 areas and you will be flying with a stronger sense of career wellbeing.
Till next time, stay well.
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