There is great power in acknowledging where we are in the present moment of our work lives. When we can see and accept the reality of our situation, we can better identify our needs, make decisions about our next steps and appreciate what is going well.
In the spirit of the New Year and reflection on last year , consider where you are in these three categories:
You are drained in your work if you dread going to work. You speak negatively about it to others. You vacillate between daydreaming of quitting and feeling incredibly stuck. Your thoughts continually go to ways to escape and the freedom that would follow.
This is a very difficult and frustrating phase. Whether it is caused by a toxic environment, loss of interest in duties, a challenging relationship at work and/or other factors, this phase drains the energy out and leaves nothing behind. The well is dry and yet the bucket is continually dropped down for more. Oftentimes people experience mental, physical or emotional illness as a result of the stress of staying a drained state.
If you are drained, consider these inquiries:
- Are your basic needs getting met (eating, sleeping, exercising)?
- Would it help to talk to someone (friend, counselor)?
- What specifically is not working for you?
- How could you feel more empowered?
Having work that sustains you energetically is akin to being in a closed loop. Enough energy is created from the work itself to power you through the next work day/week/month/year. It may not be inspiring or overly energizing, but it is not terrible. If the work pays well, interests you and/or uses your strengths, it may meet all of your needs. This can be quite a positive place to be, especially if there are other priorities that take our focus or if work is not an important factor in your life.
If you are sustained, consider these inquiries:
- What are you grateful for in your current work situation?
- What strengths do you use in your job?
- What priorities does your work life support?
- If you want to be more inspired, what would that look like? What would you have more/less of?
Feeling fulfilled at work produces an excess of energy – energy generated at work spills over into your personal life as well. You feel purposeful and valued, with many possibilities in the future. Often this state is considered actively living your purpose. Being inspired is not about perfection or never being tired or frustrated. It is about being able to bring your whole self to your career.
If you are inspired, consider these inquiries:
- In what ways could you share your energy and gifts to help others (mentorship, volunteering)?
- What exciting ideas would you like to spend time exploring?
- What is your vision for the future (what impact would you like to be having on the world)?
- How does your work life inform your life purpose?
When you know which state you are in, you can evaluate the choices you have from a place of acceptance. It is important to note that there is no value judgment here – this is not a linear process. Moving along the continuum from drained to inspired is not something everyone wants or needs, or is even possible at certain times of life. Often, life circumstances or workplace changes outside of our control instigate shifts in our states.
With kindness to yourself in mind, what state are you in right now with your work life?