Five (underlying) reasons you hate your job

The more time you clock up as an employee, the more prone you will be to utter the inevitable statement: “I hate my job.” In fact, 85% of the global workforce “hate their jobs.” This means that only 15% of employees actually feel a sense of purpose, work satisfaction and joy when they work.

The average person will spend 90 000 hours at work. Essentially, a third of our lives is devoted to work. So why are we choosing to be so miserable for such a massive portion of our lives?

What is the gap between rewarding work or frustrating work? Or the gap between I hate my job to I love my job?

The root of this issue, I believe, is that we were never taught the difference between getting a job and finding your life’s work. Think about all the messages you received about work growing up. Work was always something awaiting you at the end of a pathway – post high school or graduation, you would enter into the working world and everything would fall into place.

Right?

Except it doesn’t. And young people are lambasted for battling with this disconnect instead of receiving support on how to navigate this crucial life path.

The focus during this stage of life is finding a career path that will make us money. And that is an important motivation as it is the path to creating freedom from the family unit and becoming an active citizen. The problem is that we think getting a job or entering a career is all there is – when our hearts are yearning for something more.

We make decisions about what we do based on what we think we should be doing, what we’ve been told we should do, rather than discovering what will really make us come alive.

Doing prescribed tasks in an organisation doesn’t tell you who you are, neither does it give your life meaning. The paycheck at the end of the month is nice but you probably were also never trained on how to manage your money and this eventually increases your frustration.

So when we say “I hate my job”, what we are really pointing to is a sense of dissatisfaction about how we’re currently engaging with work. In my work with young professionals, I’ve identified some key underlying issues that are driving workplace frustration.

1. You have a fuzzy life purpose.

There is a massive difference between a job description and knowing what your life’s work is. People who have a clear sense of life purpose are those who are able to seek out opportunities that they know will play to their strengths and they therefore have a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment when it comes to their current job.

Think about the professionals you admire and aspire to be like. Do you think they go into the office everyday with knots of dread in their stomach or are they operating from a sense of purpose where they do they work that makes them come alive?

Not everyone has a clear sense of purpose at a young age but there are definitely golden threads that surface over time that can be weaved into personal meaning.

Working at various jobs and organisations can provide clues about what your life purpose or meaningful work will look like. Your twenties are a time of great self-discovery. There will be tasks that you do that you will love and find easy to handle and other tasks that will leave you feeling stuck and frustrated. The journey to finding your sweet spot is not linear.

How do I understand my life purpose? There are a few steps involved in this process and you will likely require some facilitation and assistance to define a purpose that really resonates with you. (Contact Whole Person Academy if you would like a one on one coaching session).

  • Reflection and journalling: Use the above diagram help you identify areas of strength, ability and passion. Improve your self-awareness by taking time out for personal reflection and journalling. You don’t have to be a writer for this to be an effective personal growth tool for you. Create a file on your Google Drive and record insights from experiences as they happen. This will grow into an active record of what you tend to lean into and what makes you want to run a mile!
  • Identify blind spots: Speak to trusted friends, family members and colleagues who will reflect areas of strength and challenge that they notice in your life.
  • Take time to dream: Create a work life roadmap to your sweet spot. Remember to overcome the temptation to expect a massive life purpose to manifest in two years. We can only really measure the true impact of our lives at the end of it.
  • Give yourself permission: This is something that so many young professionals struggle with. Many of them have chosen careers because that’s what their parents wanted them to do or they were looking for the most lucrative career path. A few years into their working life, they find themselves struggling with the anxiety of making this choice and feel powerless to make a new choice.

You only have one life. You can’t live it for anyone else but yourself. You might not be able to do your dream job at 25 but don’t underestimate what can eventually unfold over time.

  • Commit to the long-haul: I’ve had 15 job titles and three careers to date – and I am finally in my sweet spot as I build a business to help young people and women to live from a place of wholeness in the areas of relationships, career and finances.

It took me 21 years to get here. During that time, my own life and work experiences have shaped and refined my passions. When I look back at old journals, even my naïve teenage self had an inkling at what my life’s work was linked to.

Also, every single job I had equipped me with skills I use to this very day. So never despise your current job and pay attention to the lessons it is teaching you. Your future self will thank you.

2. You have a fixed mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your talent and intelligence is established at birth, therefore there is no point trying to learn anything new or stretch yourself. You tend to get annoyed at colleagues who seem to have it easy and are getting ahead while you feel stuck in your job role.

Another form of a fixed mindset is a victim mindset. People who have this defeatist, default way of thinking have generally faced difficult situations in their lives which has caused them to feel powerless. Take that mindset into the workplace and it manifests as someone who is unable to take responsibility for their actions and gets stuck in blaming others instead of finding creative solutions to problems.

If you have an external locus of control, then you are more likely to blame outside forces like your boss, politics or your mother for the state of your life. Granted, no work environment is perfect but people with a growth mindset are able to face adversity and take personal responsibility for their lives.

 

How do I develop a growth mindset? This can be tricky and in my experience, the earlier you start, the better! Patterns of thought and behaviour become more established the older we get.

  • Start small: Identify one limiting pattern (eg: not speaking up for yourself in meetings). Seek support from someone you trust to help you identify the core belief (eg: no one listens to me anyway) and then develop a positive alternate to challenge your negative belief (eg: My voice is as valid as anyone else in the room).
  • Take action: Now you have to practice this until it becomes your new default. Most of us are afraid of failure because we falsely believe that we are failures if we fail. Not true. Every successful person has only been able to progress because of repeated failure.
  • Repeat: Once you are able to exercise your growth muscle in one area of your life, keep applying this process to other areas of your life (like fitness, finances, etc). You will surprise yourself with what you’re truly capable of.

3. You are frustrated with your current salary.

This is one of the major, seemingly overt causes of work frustration and yet, if you dig a little deeper, there is a Pandora’s box of personal issues that one could too easily file under the complaint of: “I need more money.”

I once worked with someone who was always talking about his low salary scale and gave everyone constant updates about his battle with management and HR to increase his pay grade.

 

While some of his concerns may have been legitimate, he spent most of his energy focused on what he should be getting paid instead of contributing positively to the team and proving himself to be an asset.

In a different organisation, I came across this Zig Ziglar quote and had a printout of it on my office wall. A colleague noticed the post and scoffed at it saying that you shouldn’t be oppressed by an organisation (he held strong political views). Unfortunately, his work ethic didn’t match up to his politics and he is yet to find secure formal employment.

I was eventually able to earn a higher salary by doing more than I was paid to do – not at that organisation but I received a massive increase in the next role I took on. Developing an owner mindset (what would I do today if this was my business) helped me to work hard not to impress my boss but to grow my skill set and expand the limits of my potential.

Accept the fact that you may not receive the promotion you’re looking for at your current organisation. Develop your own professional pathway (see point 1), commit to becoming an excellent worker(regardless of what your boss does or doesn’t do).

You will attract the right opportunities to you because you’re not waiting for the organisation to heap rewards on you for just showing up every day. In this new work reality, with rising retrenchments and declining work stability, employees can no longer rely on their salary as their sole source of income.

We have to learn to manage what we have and develop multiple streams of income to not just survive, but thrive in the future.

How do I manage my current salary?

  • Stay out of debt! Everyday I wish I could go back and arrest my 20-year-old self from making all the financial blunders that got me into a massive financial hole in my 30s. There will be immense pressure to cave into the normal debt-ridden lifestyle once you start working.

Buying clothes on credit that you will just end up giving away one day or buying a car to impress people who don’t like is downright foolish – in hindsight. We tend to want to make our own mistakes when we’re younger, but we enslave ourselves to places and people because we’ve signed up for a lifestyle we can’t afford. Watch the video about how to stay debt free in your 20s.

  • Establish healthy financial patterns: Again, something to start earlier rather than later. Get on a budget (or call it a spending plan if that makes it easier) and track your monthly expenses. It will surprise you when you see what you’re really spending on and what it is really costing your future.
  • Start a side hustle: Reading 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick James McGinnis was a gamer changer. People who develop side hustles while holding on full time jobs are more effective in their current roles and are able to develop entrepreneurial skill sets (which is a key 4IR skill by the way). Richard Branson agrees. It also helps you test out the viability of your creative money generation ideas and while providing an outlet for additional abilities your current role may not require.

4. You’re in a toxic work environment.

I wish this was something we could avoid but sadly, you are bound to experience a toxic work environment at some point in your life. The key when assessing whether your workplace is truly toxic is to firstly ask yourself the following questions: 1) What are my expectations of the workplace? 2) Am I being fair and unbiased in my assessment of the behaviour of my boss or colleagues? 3) Am I contributing to the toxicity of the office?

There are a number of poisons that contribute to a toxic work environment, the culmination of which makes you feel like you cannot progress no matter what you do and that you are stuck in maddening cycles of bad communication and bullying. There is a plethora of online articles that will help you identify a toxic work environment. Here are some key indicators:

  • There is constantly shifting work expectations
  • Low accountability among leaders
  • Bullying is overlooked and even encouraged
  • Colleagues gossip and look for ways to undermine team members
  • Low morale and team work
  • Lack of work life balance
  • Blame shifting
  • Poor communication

How do I deal with a toxic environment? The best way to deal with this (once you recognize that you are in it) is to have a plan on how long you will stay. You can have the best intentions to be a positive influence but the longer your stay, the more of a detrimental effect it will have on your confidence.

While certain sectors are more prone to toxic or hostile environments, you can encounter this in any field. In one of the organisations I worked at, I developed anxiety that eventually led to panic attacks due to a particularly intense toxicity. I eventually became physically ill and it affected other areas of my life. All the ways work wasn’t working began to consume my life. Although I was still able to execute projects that I am proud of, the constant bullying and lack of accountability eventually took its toll.

The longer you stay in a toxic environment, the longer it will take for you to recover after you leave. So develop a coping strategy that includes an exit plan!

5. You’re ready for the next challenge.

You may be earning a good salary and enjoy what you do but things have become routine. Depending on your personality, you may be someone who seeks new challenges and are getting frustrated because your current job is not giving you the high of achievement it once did.

Because you are ready for something new – and maybe aren’t able to acknowledge that yet, you may find yourself focusing on small issues that didn’t really bother you in the past (like the way your colleague chews when he eats his lunch or the fact that your boss didn’t greet you when she walked in the door).

How do I prepare for the next challenge?

  • Figure out what the next step is on your professional pathway. (I don’t like calling it a career path anymore because it might just be that you are ready for to launch your next career).
  • Develop a plan on how you will take that next step: This could mean updating your resume, considering jobs not necessarily in your current field but nevertheless excites you and you have the required skill sets for. If you have a burgeoning business idea, start working on it during your evenings and on weekends. (See point 3 about starting a side hustle)

It is ok for you to be a multi-passionate individual. We no longer just need to do one job for the rest of our lives (thank goodness!). If you find yourself muttering the words, I hate my job again, take the time to figure out what you really mean by that.

Then, YOU need to do something about it. No one is going to come to your desk, cup your face in their hands and say: “I’m your fairy godmother. Your wish is my command.” Life is shorter than you think. Don’t waste your time (or your company’s resources) floundering in frustration.

It’s normal to feel frustrated about your job – use that to lean into the underlying why and you will find the keys you need to set yourself free. The path to finding your “life’s work” is not going to be linear or predictable – but that is really what everyone yearns for: meaning and joy in their work. It is how we are wired. Work culminates one third of our lives – why waste all that time and life energy being miserable?

If you enjoyed this post, please click the like button below or leave a comment and let me know!

If you’ve read this article and it’s created more anxiety because you feel unable to uncover your core frustrations, then we’re here to help you. Contact cheryl@wholepersonacademy.com for a one on one coaching session.

Who Are You Working For?

As the champagne bubbles from the New Year celebrations fade into memory, something else is rising on the inside of you as you face the work year ahead.

What is that feeling?

Is it anticipation? Dread? Anxiety? Excitement?

Pay close attention to those feelings as you make your way back to the office. Were you looking forward to the escape and dreading the inevitable return to chaos? Or are you grateful for the break but amped to jump into action and take on new challenges with your team?

The answer to that question provides a clue into the driving force of your work life. You are either working for yourself – where you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how to get there. Or you are working for someone else – doing what your boss wants you to do just to get paid the salary and go home.

One reality has you thriving – the other one has you stuck in survival mode.

It’s not possible to bring your best to work when you’re either not sure what “your best” is, or you haven’t yet found your “passion pocket” – the thing that you love to do and others will gladly pay you to do.

While finding one’s ‘sweet spot’ is a personal journey, your life is entirely in your hands. You don’t have to stay stuck. You have more options that you might imagine.

And if you love what you’re currently doing, challenge yourself to expand the borders of your current experience.

You only get one life.

And you decide who you will work for.

Work week reflection question: Am I working to achieve my potential or just to meet the expectations of others?

Let The Pull Of Purpose Push You Into Greatness

Have you been pulled by your sense of purpose into areas of personal greatness?

What has been pushing you this year to reach the targets you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Was it your parents, your boss’s perceived expectations of you, your spouse, your own ambition?

And do you feel closer to where you wanted to be when you crossed the threshold of the year – or further away from it?

I ask you all these questions because I despise the almost obligatory reflection on the 31st of December every year. I want to know if I am on track, headed in the right direction – sooner rather than later, so that I don’t waste even more time going deeper into a purposeless abyss.

I want to live my life on purpose. I want to be intentional about my days.

Partly because I feel like a decade of my life has been stolen from me – but mainly because I really want my life to count for something. I want the fact that I have taken up a tiny portion of space to have mattered to the people that I have crossed paths with.

So when an evolving concept of “push and pull” behaviours began cropping up in a few conversations over the past few weeks, it began to intrigue me.

This is actually quite a deep topic to really delve into, so I’ll try and position it in the way that I am beginning to see the framework. The basic premise is: You will always feel pushed into something if you’re not pulled into it by a deeper sense of purpose. 

A retrenchment, a divorce, a sudden death. There are things that shove you into realities that you weren’t quite ready for (and don’t know how to deal with).

Circumstances that we find ourselves in, that are beyond our control, creates a negative kind of push. Another factor that we can’t control (that we often forget) is that we can’t control people.

Pushing others is not fun. Feeling pushed is no fun either.

It conjures up a sense of resistance. It makes you feel like you don’t have a choice. And then everything in you wants to do the opposite.

Have you been dealing with situations in your life this year that has made you feel pushed by external factors – and either caused you to respond defensively or rendered you passive?

When we allow situations or people to determine our state of action, that’s when we give up our power.

It might not always feel like we’re in control but the way we respond to a situation always is. If we don’t have a strong sense of why we’re doing what we’re doing, then we will always get caught up in the “what is happening around us” that can be a major distraction to your actual purpose.

No one is going to help you figure out your purpose. This is a process of discovery that we all have to embark on as solitary sojourners. And it’s scary.

So we often take a easy option and allow other people to decide the direction of our lives for us. Therefore if things don’t feel great, we can rail against the machine and blame the state of our lives on other people. “If my boss was just more… (fill in your magical wish list here)” or “If only I was married/single again/in a relationship/out of this one… then life would be ok.”

Finding your Beckoning Space

In a session with a coach earlier this year, she asked an evocative question: What is your beckoning space?

What is the place where you see yourself thriving, being fueled with passion, where do you see yourself coming alive?

I didn’t have to think too much about that question. I know what that answer is. I’ve known for years. It’s just taken a while for me to grow in maturity and character to be able to reach for the things that I know I’m wired for.

The thing is, we often get so fixated on fighting against our current realities that we don’t have energy to think about the any alternate realities that might make us come alive.

So yes, it will be a fight. Swimming upstream is not easy. Going against the flow, when everyone else seems content to wile their lives away on non-purpose related pursuits, doing the thing beating in your heart is going to take guts.

It’s going to mean that you have to be ok with other people not being ok with you.

What is pushing you? What are the things that you do on a daily or weekly basis that you feel propelled to take on because of a sense of duty or obligation?

On the other hand: What is pulling you towards the place where you feel a special kind of magic? What are the things that, when you do then, you feel a sense of wonder and excitement?

(You might want to write these things down and ponder them for a bit. Don’t ignore them… they will just keep lingering until you eventually pay attention to them).

Of course we can’t avoid all duty and obligation.

You might not feel like going to work some days. But maturity helps you to get up, shower, get dressed, and get your butt in your car. Once you’re there, you actually get things done and end up having a pretty productive day.

It might be a similar process with going to the gym. If you’ve had a long day (or week), everything in your body and mind is shouting at you to avoid the thing that won’t feel good at the outset but at the end of the session, you’re feeling pretty incredible.

Your strength of your inner pull will determine whether you will allow the right kind of push.

When I switched my gym visits from a place of beating myself up for not measuring up to some impossible standard, to now swiping my card because I understand how taking care of my health has a vital and direct result on my longevity so that I can live out what I believe my passion to be, what was previously a push action has shifted to a ‘pull choice’.

I still don’t ever feel like doing the session but there is less inner turmoil than a few months ago because my renewed perspective on this one aspect of my life has had positive knock on effects on other areas of my life.

So how do you allow the pull your of purpose push you into greatness? Here’s how it’s working for me:

 

 

1. Don’t be limited by your job title (or your salary)

You will have many job titles in your life, clocking in to a number of organisations and working in various office team environments. When we first start out, it’s easy to expect others to lay out the projected trajectory of our career – until we discover that just like life, our professional endeavours will not be linear.

Each job contains opportunities for you to learn particular skills sets and if you are open to that, you will be able to glean a lot of valueable experience that you might only realise 10 or 20 years down the line was actually extremely beneficial.

Therefore, do not despise humble beginnings and also don’t be limited by your salary. Explore what you can do to develop multiple streams of income. Job security is fickle. Don’t set anchors in sinking sand.

In this current shifting landscape of work, it still fascinates me how some people pin all their hopes on a job title (and it’s incumbent benefits).

I understand that not all personality types are comfortable with risk taking and not everyone will have a desire to start their own business. I do believe, though, that everyone needs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, just to keep themselves relevant and flexible in a vastly changing job market.

2. Let your life purpose be your compass (and then step out)

There is a golden thread in your life that provides clues to your life purpose. As you begin to see this more clearly, it will help you determine what you will say yes, no more, no, or maybe to.

Something that has helped me to keep a clear focus on my life vision, is a printed list entitled “What I want people to say when I die”. I read this list of ten items that I have determined will be the cumulative impact of my life (and I can see it from this finite point) every morning when I’m brushing my teeth.

It often feels daunting but it also reminds me to appreciate the ‘small’ ways I’m able to live our my life purpose every day and every week. Some days, that just looks like being purposeful about meeting someone for coffee and encouraging them. Other days, it means sitting at my desk and (finally) writing that blog post that has been simmering in my brain for way to long.

Most of the time, it’s reminding myself to be present in the conversations I have with others or learning how to say no when I need to. Your life purpose should direct your steps and it should chart your course. After numerous iterations, my life purpose can now be summarised in the phrase “inspire hope in the hopeless.”

3. Make time to dream (and then plan your action)

Whose life am I living?

It’s important to ask yourself this question on a regular basis because sometimes our life scripts morph into what others expect from us without us realising it. Don’t forget the reason you’re living. Write down the vision for your life and then keep reminders of where you’re headed with you in places that you can see it.

Don’t get sucked into the subtle ways that you can ruin your life.

You get one life. And it comes with an expiry date.

Dreams only come to live when your drape your wishes around the skeleton of a plan.

Don’t blame others for you not taking the action that is within your power – right in this moment – to take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding A Mid Year Check-In Mechanism That Works For You

Most people project their wishful thinking into a bucket of New Years Resolutions… which, if not followed by basic personal development skills, eventually falls out of the holes of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve…
But if you’re reading this blog, you’re not like most people. You care about your life and your future and understand that if things need to change in your life, you’re the one to make it happen.
So I’m making certain assumptions as I provide the following guidelines:
1. You actually have a set of targets in the critical areas of your life for 2017.
2. You currently have a personal development plan, with measurable outcomes in place.
3. You have been tweaking your introspection and evaluation tools.
I generally have to manage my anxiety levels when it comes to mid-year or end of the year. (Oh who am I kidding, I have to manage my anxiety levels every week because I don’t want to waste my life. One of the sessions with a coach, where she helped me see how little time we actually have, really freaked me out. Yes I know, I might be a little hardcore about this, hence the blog. Moving on.)

                            The amount of time – in weeks – we actually have (scary, huh)?

Last year, I realised that it works better for me if I do a mini-evaluation at the end of each quarter. This seems to be the pattern that has repeated in my life and so I decided to lean into it instead of adopting someone else’s system that might not be the best fit for my personality and the way I function. I later discovered that the ’12 week year’ is actually a thing. Lucky me.
I try to do a weekly evaluation but what’s actually been working for me recently is a daily check-in that I do before bedtime. It’s a simple spreadsheet that I update on my phone and over the past three weeks, this has become a habit. The days go by so quickly that we barely have time to appreciate all the life and love that we have been gifted with. So, as a writer, this has been a great tool for me because it forms a mini-narrative of my life and I can instantly look back on Tuesday last week and muse about what has transpired since then. (And I can bug my husband with the details).
At the end of last year, I spent a few days reflecting on my targets* over the past year and came up with an extensive list of targets in the following key areas of my life: Spiritual, Character, Health, Relationships, Career and Finances. These are the categories that have been the strongest areas of investment over the years.
I’ve had to simplify my targets. I was doing too much but didn’t want to admit that to myself (#Superwomantendencies). The targets that I expressed in writing would only realistically take place over a 3-5 (maybe even 10) year period. And here I was trying to cram everything into one year (and getting annoyed at myself for not making it happen).

So now, I have chiselled the Big Goals down into more doable, bite size pieces and have simplified targets in each focus area.If you haven’t sculpted your personal growth targets yet, don’t wait until New Years Eve to kick it off. Here’s a good list of questions (thanks to Valorie Burton) to ask yourself if you don’t know where to start:

1.What am I most proud of this year?
2. What is the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year?
3. What is the most meaningful milestone I can accomplish this year?
4. What would make it easier for me to reach that milestone?
Adaptive, not prescriptive
The key to developing an effective check-in process for yourself is that you need to design it to work for you. Anything that you try to put in place that will have you feeling like you’re working against yourself is doomed to fail. So be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself the space and time to reflect and adapt where necessary.
Here’s the guideline I use for my mid year (and quarterly) check-in:
  1. Is my system working?
    • Yes but needs tweaks
      • No, I need to change it
        • What needs to change in order to make information tracking easier?
  2. What has worked?
  3. What have I learned?
  4. What do I need to stop doing?
  5. What do I need to focus more on?
  6. What do I want to visualise as successes at the end of the year (or quarter)?

I have now chipped down my Mount Everest of personal achievement into tiny hills that I feel more confident at being able to climb every day. My targets for the next six months is broken down into daily, weekly and monthly intentions. It primarily serves as a reminder to “stave my distractions and feed my focus.” For me to take meaningful steps towards meeting my targets, means that I need to say no sometimes to social events and to block out writing weekends in my calendar (these words doesn’t magically appear in my sleep).

It means that I have to overcome my ‘internal downer voice’ that mocks me for trying once again to increase my fitness levels (I finally succumbed to signing up with a personal trainer – eat that inner critic!).

I’m also trying to teach myself to be more present in the moment – paying attention to the sound of gravel under my feet, or my husband’s voice while he’s talking (unrelated metaphor). If I miss all the beauty that life offers me today, I will always be chasing what I already have. This is why it’s so important to acknowledge all the baby steps you take along the way.

Celebrate the small wins

I was moaning at my dietician earlier this year about how stuck I am and how nothing I do seems to change. She reminded me that when I first went in to see her last year, I was eating a chocolate a day (that has stopped now) and was only getting to gym once or twice a week (it had since moved to three to four times a week).

The perspective of another person (albeit a paid professional) helped me to get the mindset shift I needed. I am a big picture person, so the vision of the future, the ideal, is to tangible and real that I constantly have to manage frustration at the ever-imperfect present). Yes, of course I wrote a blog post about my struggles.

There were many things that happened this year that came as a result of my intent (although not in the way that I expected). So I’m learning to recognise (and appreciate) the tiny signposts along the way that confirm that I’m headed in the right direction.

Then again, you need to know what direction you want your life to go – otherwise how will you know when you get there?

I hope this has helped to inspire you to a) get some targets if you don’t have any already or b) get excited again about re-aligning your daily activities so that you keep moving forward along your path of person greatness. Leave some comments/suggestions below 🙂

 

*A few years ago, I stopped having goals and started working towards targets. (This post on Linkedin by a local entrepreneur I respect inspired this shift http://bit.ly/2sDLGzt )

 

The Secret Power of Stewardship

Stewardship.

Not the sexiest word in the world. But its like a secret dynamite if you have it.

You might recognise its fruit: a good work ethic;  accountability;  integrity.

The modern day picture of a good steward is that guy who just seems to be unshakeable, not matter what happens to him. Or that lady who exhibits such a high level of personal integrity that even her haters give her their reluctant respect and admiration.

What you’re appreciating is a good steward. Someone who accepts responsibility for their duties, property,  or money that isn’t their own. But they take care of it like it is.

Essentially, a good character = a good steward.

Continue reading

Are You An Ageless Student?

The youngest person in my English Honours class is probably 21.

The only student with a wedding ring, I am more than a decade older than the talented and promising post-graduates that I share a learning space with. And I am privileged to be there. I have tried this before, and I have failed before. And I’m giving it another go. Let’s hope ‘third time lucky’ holds true.

When life offers you a delicious opportunity, you take a luscious bite.

No one forced me to choose to pursue my dream (again) of finally getting my Honours. Yes its scary and uncomfortable to challenge yourself, to break the borders of what you thought you are able to achieve. But if you don’t champion your life, who is going to do it?  Here’s the three-step process of progress that I try to apply to my own life:

1. Find what you really want.

It’s easy to talk ourselves out of the things we don’t really have a passion for. Sometimes when it feels like things are going against the grain, its because Life is sending you an important message. Something doesn’t quite fit, something’s not quite right.

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. I almost succeeded in enrolling for Psychology Honours – until I hit the Research module which was stashed with unfair maths and stats. Tickets for a non-numerical, decidedly word-person like me.

Then I tried doing an Honours in Applied Linguistics, which would have been great if I was still working in Publishing, expect that my career had taken a perpendicular path.

Now I am doing English Honours courses – which I absolutely love and it challenges me in ways that fuels a passion long dormant. Sometimes it takes a while to dig down to your core passion – but don’t stop digging. You will finally strike the raw gold of your passion.

2. Work out what it will cost you.

I have no social life (for a few months). I banned myself from Facebook. I spend the weekends studying and working on assignments. I know that all this self-sacrifice means saying to invitations  from my beautiful friends “no for now, but not forever.”

Developing your dream is going to cost you something. It will probably will cost you a lot. More than your comfortable self-talk is willing to pay. Determine whether you are willing to pay the full price of achieving your goals.

3. Choose to pay the price everyday.

It has to be a daily decision.

You will have to exercise the power of either talking yourself into taking the next step – or talking yourself out of it. Each day that you move one step closer is a victory worthy of being celebrated.

The entirety of our lives are determined by how we spend our days. Choose well. Choose wisely. Choose you.

 

 

 

Organisations Don’t Owe You Anything

The sooner we understand that organisations don’t owe us anything, the sooner we start making a real contribution in the working world.

I have been working for 16 years. I started at the delicate age of 17, fresh out of high school, looking for work because I didn’t have the money to pursue a full-time tertiary qualification. (It broke my heart because the dream of full-time university study was one I had to forfeit.)

I knew that I could write well, so I went to our local newspaper’s office to see if I could submit any articles on a freelance basis. Turned out the editor was looking for a journalist, so I began my first job before I turned 18.

Needless to say, navigating my naivety within a working environment without any real life experience beneath my belt was tricky. The editor’s husband told me about the option of doing my degree part-time and suggested that I study Communications. That seemed like a good idea and three and a half years later, I graduated from Unisa.

I was 22.

If you had to ask me at that time what I wanted to do with my life, I would have given you a blank look. No one really knows what they want to do at that age. Although my career developed without any clear intention on my side, I now love what I do. My career evolved in direct proportion to my personal growth.

Since my first job in 1998, I have worked in 10 positions at nine different organisations – and the most important lesson I have learnt during my working career?

Organisations don’t owe you anything.

I have made many mistakes along the way (especially during the time that I was trying to establish my own business). Yet I have gained invaluable experience at each company I worked for, broadening my skills set and helping me grow in maturity.

I could not have known when I was 20 years old – writing donor newsletters for the South African National Blood Service – that I would be preparing for my ‘second career’ as an academic fundraiser in my early thirties.

I now see that all the work that I have put my hands to in the past has prepared me tremendously for the work that I am doing now – and loving every minute of!

I see all the anxious young adults stressing about their future. I know how that feels but my message to them is this:

  • Understand that organisations don’t owe you anything: Stop looking at the people around you and focus on the tasks you have been given. Once you start excelling in the little things, new doors of opportunity will begin to open up for you.
  • Life is not linear: It might look that way on your cv but there are many twists and turns along your specific path. Trust the process. Things will look much clearer in hindsight.
  • Seek out your purpose: The more you understand your purpose – what you feel you were born to do or what you feel passionate about – the greater your clarity will be with regards to the type of work you do. When I started out, all I knew is that I had the ability to write well. I slowly began to discover that I was motivated by inspiring people towards personal growth. That basic understanding has been my ‘golden thread’: purpose is found where passion and motivation meet.
  • Trust your inner voice: Don’t do what people say will bring you money. If you hate the work you do, you will either end up becoming a bitter, negative employee or looking for a way of going back to what you love.
  • Career excellence takes time: Don’t chase money; chase opportunities that will grow your skills set and stretch your capabilities. Building integrity and character should be an ongoing focus.

Ultimately  its not about gaining status or growing salary packages. The true test of our lives will be:  “What have we done with what we have been given?”