Build A Thriving Career At Any Stage of Your Working Life
(With 3 Actions You Can Take Right Now To Get Started)
Raise your hand if work is weighing you down right now!
We all struggle at some point in our careers. And when that happens, it’s stressful, upsetting and unsettling.
Work provides not only financial security, but is often our sense of purpose and identity. It helps to create a sense of belonging and community, among so many other things that contribute to the quality of our lives.
When work gets complicated, it’s easy to get stuck or put on a brave face and muddle your way through. It feels like there is so much at stake, so you show up, do the best you can and hope it gets better.
And honestly, sometimes it does get better.
A new boss comes in and you enjoy their leadership style, you’re assigned to a project you’re excited to be involved with or you form a new friendship at work and that’s enough to sustain you through a difficult time.
However, when it goes deeper than that or you need something more from your career, that’s a different story.
When your inner voice keeps getting louder,
“I didn’t work this hard and come this far, to only come this far and feel like this”,
that’s when you start looking for ways to make a change.
You can build a thriving career by focusing on your personal development, growth from the inside, no matter what stage of life and career you’re in.
3 Good Things For A Thriving Career
3 Good Things is about transforming your experience at work by clarifying and putting into action your Values, Strengths and Emotional Intelligence.
It’s about bringing to light the best of who you are and using those qualities to gain career satisfaction, success and enjoy well-being.
When you know what matters to you it’s easier to cut through the BS. When you use and expand your natural abilities and strengths you will be more confident. And when you grow your emotional intelligence, you will know how to:
- Manage yourself better
- Be more resilient and comfortable with uncertainty
- Know how to manage difficult relationships
- Set boundaries and expectations
- Enjoy leading others more
This is an introduction to each of the 3 Good Things. There are self-reflection exercises/questions to think or journal about and actions you can take right now to start building your thriving career.
The Foundation of Building A Thriving Career
Your purpose in life has a lot to do with what kind of impact you want to make in the world and the way you want to live. This is clarified and defined by your values.
Your core values influence your career values and the environment you want to work in.
When they are aligned, you likely feel fulfilled, motivated and optimistic even when work is challenging or not in ideal circumstances. Work might be difficult, but knowing why you’re doing the work you do or feeling like you’re in a good place helps you keep things in perspective.
When your values aren’t being realized you likely feel frustrated, stuck and “checked out” from the work you’re doing.
Clarifying your values at this stage of your life will help you decide your next steps. It could be that shifting your focus and perspective back to your values will help you regain job satisfaction. It could help you remember why you chose to work in the field you’re in and give you a fresh start.
However, it could also be that your work is not aligned with your values. Maybe your priorities have changed, the work environment is toxic or you want to pursue a long-held dream but you’re not sure how to get started.
When you have big decisions ahead of you, defining your values is the first step in deciding how to move forward.
Defining and then writing down your values is an empowering exercise. Especially when you are feeling uncertain, it gives you something solid to grasp onto while you’re figuring out what to do. Possessing a strong inner compass will help guide your decision-making and actions, and create a smoother path moving forward.
Self-reflection Exercise #1
Defining Your Values
Take a few minutes to think about your Top 5 values.
Think about what matters to you the most.
What brings you joy? Makes you feel fulfilled and strong? What’s important in your life? Who is most important in your life and why?
Write down each value.
Are the values on your list more aspirational or reality? How do they show up in your day-to-day life?
Action # 1 – Your Values At Work
Choose one value.
Incorporate this value into your every day experience at work.
If you chose balance, for example, here are some choices you could make throughout the day to put your value into practice:
- Schedule micro-breaks throughout the day.
- Establish, communicate and stick to your boundaries.
- Schedule your challenging or time-consuming tasks for your most productive times of day.
- If you manage/supervise others, don’t be a micro-manager! If you don’t trust your team members to do their jobs well, you’re the problem. Communicate your expectations and coach/teach if they aren’t being met, but otherwise let them do their work.
Whatever it is you decide to do, it’s about honouring your balance value. Once you’ve incorporated your first one into every day work life, start practising using another. I suggest adding 3-5 to help you stay focused on what matters.
Remember, change is a process, and each day is an opportunity for a fresh start.
Using Your Strengths
Do you know what your strengths are?
Your strengths are your unique superpowers.
Strengths are activities that makes you feel strong, engaged and excited. They are innate abilities that make up who you are.
A strength is not just something you’re good at. That’s a skill.
A weakness can be something you’re not naturally good at or it might be something you’re good at it, but it drains you. You don’t get enjoyment out of the activity.
When using your strengths, you:
- Have a sense of energy and engagement; this is called flow.
- Often lose your sense of time because you are so engrossed in the task.
- Are curious, excited and able to learn new information and approaches quickly.
- Show high levels of performance.
- Want to do things that use your strengths, even when you are tired or stressed.
When you’re struggling at work, using your strengths will help you feel more confident and in control. They will help you appreciate what you’re capable of and the unique characteristics you can build on.
Build your strengths first and then use them to manage the parts of your job you don’t like or find difficult.
It is helpful to be aware of and work on your weaknesses. However, you are much more likely to find success by growing the talents and abilities that are more natural to you. Once you’re using your strengths regularly and feeling strong and confident, you’ll find working on your weaknesses isn’t quite so daunting. If you do it the other way around, you’re likely going to feel frustrated, exhausted and stuck.
Self-reflection Exercise #2
- What do you do everyday?
- Talk about everyday?
- When you lose all track of time, what tasks/activities are you doing?
- What parts of your job do you enjoy and get energy from? Include tasks you don’t get to do often, but enjoy. Get as specific as possible about what you’re doing. For example, are you researching a topic? Collecting ideas? Getting your team excited about a new project? Using your creativity? Teaching people how to do something?
Action #2 – Your Strengths At Work
Regularly incorporate more of what you enjoy into your work to do your job more effectively.
To get started, make 3 columns with the headings – Love, Tolerate, Loathe/Dread.
Now thinking about the day-to-day tasks, expectations and responsibilities of your job, write them in the appropriate columns.
What you’ll likely find is that you’re using your strengths for the things in your love list.
Since the point of this exercise is to boost your confidence, how can you do more of what you love on a day-to-day basis? In your loathe/dread list, is there anything you can stop doing or delegate? Do you need to talk to anyone to make these things happen?
How You Show Up For Yourself and the World Around You
Emotional intelligence is about how we operate on an emotional level. Sometimes it’s referred to as a soft skill (a misleading term, in my opinion).
It can be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes to see their point of view (empathy), to tell someone when they’ve crossed a line (creating a boundary) or to challenge yourself to see the good in a difficult situation (optimism/resilience). These are all elements of strong emotional intelligence.
These skills, along with developing and maintaining satisfying relationships, assertiveness, stress tolerance and problem solving abilities, help us make our way in an increasing complex world.
IQ is important for success, too. To use logic, retain knowledge, grasp and communicate complex and abstract problems, for example, will surely help you succeed. So, a simplified way to think of the difference is IQ is book smarts and EQ is street smarts.
You may be very book smart, but if you don’t have good coping skills, if you lack self-awareness and you don’t know how to work well with and connect with others, your career satisfaction, opportunities for advancement and sense of well-being are likely not as high as they could be. The encouraging thing is that EQ can be developed and increased throughout your lifetime.
Self-reflection Exercise #3
- Are you comfortable with who you are?
- Do you seek out solutions or fixate on problems?
- How do you calm yourself down when you are feeling angry or frustrated?
- Do you listen to understand the other person’s point of view?
- What do you know about yourself today that you didn’t know a year ago?
Action #3 – Your EQ At Work
Breathe. Practice the pause.
It sounds simple. The secret is to do both consistently.
Pay attention to how your body feels when you take a few deep breaths – your chest less tight, your face more relaxed, and your muscles less tense. When you know you’re going to have an especially crazy or stressful day, set alerts on your phone to remind yourself to take three deep, slow breaths throughout the day.
When you are feeling upset, provoked or frustrated and you want to lash out, count backwards from 10 and ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Do I need to say this right now?
When the answers are “no”, it will save you from saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time and escalating situations that don’t need to be escalated.
And when you find yourself saying “yes, I actually do need to say something”? It will help you to be assertive and set a boundary or expectation with that person.
3 Good Things Transform Your Experience At Work
Becoming proactive instead of reactive is how you achieve a thriving career. It’s your life and your career. When you can’t control everything that’s happening, you still get to decide how you want to show up for yourself and those around you.
Applying your values, strengths and emotional intelligence in an intentional and habitual way helps you adapt to change with more ease and less angst. You’ll have:
- better coping skills and manage stress more effectively.
- be more confident and willing to take risks (the good kind) to try something new
- discover your leadership style and
- have a better relationship with yourself and those around you.
Your 3 Good Things For a Thriving Career have the power to lift you up rather than being the thing that weighs you down.
Focus on what matters. Expand your Strengths. Show up as your best self. That’s how you thrive.
For a deeper dive into personal development to transform your experience at work, I offer 1:1 Private Coaching, as well as 1:1 Workplace Coaching called Thriving In the Middle for Introverts who are managers, supervisors or team leads.
All my coaching plans include an extensive Values Clarification Workbook, CliftonStrengths 34 Strengths Assessment (with a focus on your Top 5 Strengths ) and the EQ-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence Assessment.
Let’s chat. Book a call.