It's Time to Renew and Energize
Coronavirus... Lockdowns… Social distancing... Social and civic unrest... Political tension… 2020 was more than just a hectic year that left most of us feeling anxious, isolated, angry, downright stressed and perhaps even unfulfilled.
So much change! As we reflect, many of us experienced a sudden awakening. Where did we make a difference - somewhere? Did our work matter? Did we achieve what we set out to achieve? And now, more of us are looking towards the future and asking, “Is the work I am doing meaningful? Do I feel fulfilled?” Cigna's 2020 Loneliness Index reported that the biggest challenge of working from home is related to social isolation and loneliness.
How do we find fulfillment at work, when we aren't technically… at work?
It’s Springtime now - a time of renewal and rejuvenation. Let’s take the month of April to get re-energized about work. Let’s refocus on finding, or regaining, meaning in our work and personal lives. This month, I will be exploring the concept of fulfillment at work and the role that organizations, managers and you play in helping you find meaning. For more on this topic, please read my previous blogs.
To level set, let’s first define fulfillment at work - the degree to which (1) your work is aligned with your strengths, goals, values and purpose, (2) you are part of a community in which you are cared for, and (3) you make a meaningful contribution and impact. While fulfillment applies to everyone, what fosters fulfillment for each of us varies. Individuals value different factors ranging from work-life flexibility, ethical and honest leadership, transparency and open communication, corporate social responsibility, job stability, and upward mobility, to name a few. For some, a huge part of fulfillment at work lies in the ability to make meaningful connections, socialize at lunch or by the water cooler, and downtime that may be attained through a relaxing commute.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 2020 massively, and very visibly, disrupted our economy. When we think about other disruptors, we often think of how Uber disrupted the taxi industry and how AirBNB has challenged the hotel industry. The events of last year disrupted all industries, some positively and many negatively.
But, in addition to the economic impact, there were significant emotional and psychological disruptors. Our personal and professional lives were pushed into a state of disarray, at best. We needed to quickly find ways to stay motivated, care for ourselves and help each other throughout this challenging time. It became ok to not be ok and to lean more heavily on our family friends. We needed to cut ourselves some slack when we became frustrated about feeling less motivated and less productive than before and continually remind ourselves of who we are at our core. Some did this more easily than others.
With every crisis come fresh opportunities, if we embrace change and rise to the challenge. That’s the silver lining… the opportunity to renew and re-energize. So, take the time - do the work - to regain your fulfillment at work, even though we are not physically at work. To leaders and organizations, be intentional about providing an environment (yes, even a remote one) to support us in doing so.