It’s the start of a new year and a new chance to achieve fulfillment in your work. If you are not feeling totally fulfilled at work, you are not alone. Over 75% of people are only partially fulfilled at work according to extensive interviews and survey work conducted by the Metrus Institute. We’re told to chase happiness, but we seldom stop to think about what would make us more fulfilled—to make our jobs or careers more meaningful in the long run besides a paycheck.
In our research we interviewed people who, in general, were doing well at work, but only 20% practiced behaviors that made them far more fulfilled than others. Here are a few tips to increase your fulfillment at work in the New Year.
1. Prioritize better. We all have the same amount of time in a day, week or year, but some people are stronger at managing that time in ways which produce more engagement at work and fulfillment in their lives. The truth is that people at work often put in far too much time in urgent but not important activities leading to long term performance and well-being. While we cannot skip sleeping, eating, and bathing (please!) we can manage how our time gets channeled into our priorities—those things that will bring us the most happiness now and fulfillment in the long run. To be more conscious of how you spend your time, take a day or a week and track how much time you spend on various activities. Afterward, compare how much time you did spend with how much time you want to spend on those activities.
2. Build or reaffirm your long-term career and life goals. Whether you are 18 or 72, what do you want to be when you grow up? We learned from our most fulfilled people that age was unimportant; we had highly fulfilled people at all ages, including many older ones who restarted careers, jobs, families, or hobbies late in life. The key is to reach into the future and give thought to what you would like your career and life to look like 5, 10, or 20 years down the road. Do you want to try a new profession or work initiative at your current employer? What would rev you up? What would add to your personal growth?
3. Create a working fulfillment roadmap. In our workshops, we find that a picture is far better than words—truly a map of your future, both job and non-job related. While you may spend the largest percentage of your time at work, it is important to map out all sectors of your life because they intertwine every day. Life is not compartmentalized, nor should your plan be. The roadmap should start with today and show key steps and goals leading to a future job or career role. Astronaut Don Thomas said he knew at age six that he wanted to fly in space, and he would not have gotten there unless he had a clear plan for school, work, and experiences that would put him in the running for the top job.
4. Complete fulfillment plan with milestones. You now have a long term goal, a roadmap that leads to it, and a sense of how your past time has been spent. But you still need to figure out what you are doing this week, month and year. The plan should be very specific and written. What percentage of your time will be spent on television, movies? Social media? Relationships? Career development? Most importantly, how will you know if you are on track? Make sure you have listed accomplishments and not just time spent. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you stay on target!
5. Increase your resilience skills—now! Nearly 95% of individuals over age 40 who we interviewed have had at least one major setback in their life—and many smaller ones daily or weekly as the demands at work increase, and integrating work and home becomes harder. How are you preparing yourself to be stronger and more resilient? For example, healthier people bounce back from stress or illnesses better, and yet many people struggle. Are you doing what you need to do to be healthy? Having better eating habits, increasing physical stamina, reducing stress? Another key resilience builder is your network. Do you have a mentor, or coach? A friend who would bail you out of jail? Fifty people you could talk to if your job suddenly changes? Take 5 minutes a day to update your network by asking three people a week join your professional network and then nurture those relationships.
For more tips and a deeper understanding of what you can do to be happier and more fulfilled, check out Fulfilled! Critical Choices: Work, Home, Life to learn more.