Are you among those leaving jobs for more meaningful work with greater impact?
The pandemic changed priorities, sometimes dramatically. Perhaps you concluded your work must have a purpose greater than merely earning a paycheck. You want to make a positive mark on the world.
In January, more Americans than ever left their jobs. And while reasons for the mass exodus from jobs vary, many are leaving positions they consider mind-numbing and meaningless. As one recent drop-out claimed,” I don’t want to wake up every morning dreading my day.”
Seeking jobs that offer more significant opportunities for impact makes sense. Additionally, if you raise your self-awareness at the same time, you may gain the power you desire.
Examine your internal frameworks guiding how you think and act as you seek the perfect job. Personal growth through self-insight, along with a purpose-supportive work environment, will enhance your chances of making a real difference in the world.
Eliminate Unconscious and Automatic Thinking
Everyone has them – habits that either curtail success or guarantee failure. And most people are not consciously aware of tendencies restricting them the most. Routine governs their thoughts and actions.
Most likely, you are not the exception to the rule.
Even if you are aware of these frequently unconscious habits, you may not question or examine them.
For example, when faced with a new and unusual problem, you may automatically try approaches that have worked for you in the past. Yet these familiar practices, while comfortable, are likely to limit your impact.
Rather than mindlessly sticky with familiar routines, expand your approach.
Complex problems usually require fresh thinking. By becoming more aware of your tendencies towards automatic thinking, you can catch yourself before you fall into this trap.
Beware of Vicious Cycles
Most people suffer from at least a few behavioral patterns that lead to downward spirals of self-defeat. They are called vicious cycles.
You know the routine. The cycle usually starts with a thought or action that triggers counterproductive beliefs and behaviors.
The failures that result tend to reinforce the original view, and the process continues.
For example, perhaps when you face a new and unique problem, you fear that you cannot solve it. Since you are skeptical of success, you don’t put much energy into finding solutions. Instead, you lean into old and familiar ways of addressing challenges.
Not surprisingly, the problem remains. Just as you suspected initially, you didn’t alter the situation much, if any. Thus, you are more convinced than ever that no one can solve the problem.
Vicious cycles are self-limiting patterns of thoughts and behaviors. They depress your potential for the impact you seek.
Your first step in gaining more control of your impact is to become aware of these vicious cycles.
Change from Vicious to Virtuous Cycles
Once you know the patterns that limit your impact, you can work to break them. Begin by looking at how you might intervene in a vicious cycle to create a self-reinforcing positive pattern, also known as a virtuous cycle.
Consider the previous example.
You might start by adjusting your initial views of the problem. Entertain the possibility that a creative strategy can positively impact the situation.
As a result of this change in mindset, you might explore new and creative methods for tackling the challenge more fully. Perhaps you can bring in a diverse group of colleagues to generate fresh ideas you could not imagine on your own.
Or maybe you will take more risks by trying out some innovative yet untested solutions.
Possibly you will move away from defining success as all or nothing. Progress with complex problems almost always is slow and occurs in small increments. Therefore, any movement can signal progress and reinforce your belief that the problem is solvable.
Voila! You have changed the vicious cycle to a virtuous one – a pattern that reinforces positive impact.
Most people want work to be meaningful. And many seek a way to positively impact the world.
You may believe finding the right work opportunities will deliver success.
However, no matter how ideal, a job will not provide the impact you desire if you carry into it old patterns of automatic thinking and self-defeating behavioral cycles.
While you look for that perfect job, work on your self-awareness because your most significant leverage in the workplace and the world comes from changing yourself.