Is This All There Is? Lost Your Sense of Work Direction? Carmel Byrne Provides Hints for Refocusing the Mental Compass

By Bryne, Carmel | New Zealand Management, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Is This All There Is? Lost Your Sense of Work Direction? Carmel Byrne Provides Hints for Refocusing the Mental Compass


Bryne, Carmel, New Zealand Management


Have you ever experienced a sense of unease about your work or how you are living your life--a feeling that there must be more if only you knew how to find it?

Many of us start our careers with a passion for learning in our chosen field. We gain a qualification and spend a good part of our 20s and early 30s enthusiastically climbing our chosen career ladder often while starting long-term relationships or families, acquiring property--and mortgages.

As time goes by, careers advance, the money improves, the lifestyle follows suit and we become, by many standards, "successful".

So why are so many "successful" people at this time in their life reporting a sense of unease--a feeling that the fire has gone out of their working lives?

A CASE IN POINT

Take my client Mike * as an example. In his late 30s, he is in a senior yet not unduly stressful role, has a supportive and loving partner and family, good health and robust finances. He is highly regarded at work and seen as someone with a future in the organisation's leadership.

Yet when he first came to see me, he confided he frequently felt very demotivated and was struggling to enjoy his job. He could point to no particular factor--just a general sense of unease and demotivation.

He knew this was having an adverse impact on his team.

As a leader, it was important he found a way to fire up his enthusiasm. When a leader's mood is inconsistent, distant or irritable the team members become distrustful. Lack of trust is a key reason why teams don't function as effectively as they could. Although aware of this, Mike was unsure how he could make a change.

DEFINING VALUES

We worked together and found a key factor that was contributing to Mike's demotivated state--a lack of clarity around his key values in life and at work.

When you're clear as to what is most important to you (ie, your values), you have a foundation for living and working in a way that is consistent with those values. That in turn enables you to have the optimistic, positive emotional state that drives best performance--your own and others.

An analogy: if you book a holiday with little thought for what you are going to do or experience when you get there, you may end up finding the holiday disappointing. However if you do your research and pick a destination where you do experience things that are important to you, you are likely to enjoy being there. The same principles apply in relation to work and to life in general.

Have you thought recently about what is truly important to you in your life and your career? Are you clear on the priority of your values?

Take a little time to do the following:

** Ask yourself--"What is currently most important to me in life?" List your answers and be specific. Now shorten the list by leaving only the top three most important things on the list. …

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