After graduating from college and "working" for almost 30 years in my career, I've held a lot of different roles and had many experiences. Reflecting on those experiences led me to understand that doing "work that matters" is rewarding for most people, including myself.
I took the initiative and came up with three guidelines you should follow if doing work that matters is important to you.
1. Do the work on a regular basis.
Be consistent. Why is this important? Because it is not easy. Selling is hard work. Writing is hard work. Making a difference of any kind requires hard work.
Don't think to yourself "I'll wait to do it later; maybe next year...when things will be easier, the economy with be better, my personal life will be more stable." That's considered hiding. Don't hide. While you're hiding, contracts are being signed, books are being written, new products are being launched, speeches are being made.
You have to show up regularly. Don't allow any setbacks stop you. Following a regular schedule will help push through distractions. Ignore temptations such as "I'm going to check my email or check Facebook right now to see what Lisa is up to." If you do that, you are training your brain to develop a bad habit.
As someone who has their own business, the struggle is real. My procrastinator-self wants to take over on a regular basis.
Be there mentally when doing the work. You have to show up.
2. Understand your motivational values.
You have to be comfortable and honest with what motivates you to show up. Motivation is what drives you to make decisions, energizes you and shapes your approach to work each day.
You can simply look at it through a different angle. If art or beauty is motivating to you, but you sit at a desk all day doing data entry, then surround your work space with beauty. Make your journey at work beautiful.
It is helpful, and definitely clarifying, to make a list of your values and then prioritize them. Focus on your top five and share it with others, get their perspective and choices they've made.
- Engagement - being involved emotionally and commitment to the work at hand
- Impact - having an influence
- Creativity - making new things, thinking of new ideas
- Family - impacting those directly related
- Personal growth - development of new skills
Do you know what your motivational values are?
3. Don't be afraid of difficult conversations.
If you are frustrated or having tension with others at work (or family), that inhibits your work. It slows you down. Use this opportunity to generate more understanding. Approach it with a positive and constructive point of view. Winning is not the goal.
Having difficult conversations also allows you to undo old habits that get you stuck. This opens the door for more empathy, better communication and conflict resolution.
And if you are avoiding those hard conversations, then you're living with blinders on and won't make much progress.
Your next great idea could be the result of a difficult conversation.
Doing work that matters is not easy. You need to show up regularly. You need to understand your motivational values. And you need to be open to difficult conversations.