One positive thing when we go through a personal or global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is that we take stock of our (work) life. Sometimes through a forced or voluntary break from our daily routines, we get the chance to re-evaluate what truly matters to us. Which choices in your career do you (still) enjoy? What are the things or people that weighed on you like a ton of bricks?
This short article can help you to stop worrying about things you don’t have control over. It shows you how to focus on making powerful, resonant choices within your control for more fulfilment at work.
Re-evaluate your career choices
Many people I know use this transformative time of the COVID-19 pandemic to re-evaluate their work. Are you still on the right career path? Maybe for some time you have been feeling tired, depleted or frustrated at the end of the day. You have been thinking about changing your work life into a different direction. A place where you can create more meaning and impact for causes that you really care about. Perhaps you dream about living abroad and working remotely. You spend one third of a lifetime at work, too much to make choices that don’t resonate with you.
Stop relying on excuses
With all the global changes and remote work, it is easy to fall into the trap of “Now, it's not possible to change. I have no other choices”. I heard the excuse “It’s very hard to find a job because of COVID-19” a lot lately. Really? There are four to five times more remote jobs and therefore new opportunities now. There will always be external events that we cannot influence. Every day you have the choice to enjoy what you do, to change it or to do something new.
Regain the power over your work life
Starting from school and at university, we are trained to think “critically”, find the errors, what’s lacking or what could be improved. Our brain is also designed to pay more attention to negative threats, as this used to be important for survival.
In our modern world, it can be detrimental. We get so comfortable blaming others, our bosses, and our colleagues. I have been there. The truth is, you cannot change anyone around you, only yourself. If you are in a difficult working environment, you can ask yourself what you can learn from this, what you can influence and what you can’t. Furthermore, how are you contributing to this problem?
The Circles model from Stephen Covey can help you to regain your power. The model is based on two circles. The outer is our circle of concern. This includes what’s going on in the stock market, the economy, the news, the organisation you work for and the things your colleagues do. Worrying about the things outside of your control makes you feel helpless, fearful and anxious.
Start spending more of your time, energy and effort working on the things inside of your circle of influence and control (inner circle). Like this, you can redirect your energy and make effective changes.
I love the poem from Portia Nelson “There's a Hole in My Sidewalk”. It beautifully describes what we need to truly change our situation – taking full responsibility for our choices:
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I still don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place. It isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there, I still fall in. It's habit. It's my fault. I know where I am. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.”
How you can start today
If you continue with your familiar thinking and behaviour and make the same choices, you’re going to end up with the same results, every time. You will end up in similar situations unless you become aware of your thoughts and behave differently.
I challenge you to stop criticizing or complaining about your work for 30 days. Take this time to observe your thoughts, behaviours and choices:
The global pandemic had a significant impact on how we work and is a unique opportunity to take stock of your work life fulfilment. It's natural to blame our environment, our bosses, the company culture, things outside of our control for our lack of job satisfaction.
If you wait for others or the perfect circumstances to change you will stay in a reactive, victim mode. It’s time for you to take full responsibility for your work life. Start today to increase your circle of influence by focusing on what you can change and control.
If you are struggling to make the necessary changes for a more fulfilling work-life, I strongly recommend signing up to my fortnightly Purposeful Growth Letter. You’ll receive exclusive guidance and tips from me, updates about new blog articles like this one, and you’ll be the first to know when I launch new programs and tools. Click here to sign up.
Where do you need to take bigger action at work? Let me know in the comments.
Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Portia Nelson, There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery