In an ideal world, we would all be doing what we do best, which is generally accomplished by activities we like best, but this doesn’t just happen all by itself, at least not for most of us! Before you can live a life filled with your personal and individual definition of “success and happiness” you must first take the time to address a few critical elements necessary to truly, and relentlessly, live the life you desire. Find what makes you unique. The ability to identify what comes naturally to you, refine these qualities, and then tailor them to suit the requirements and expectations of a career which appreciates and celebrates the contributions you, and only you, can make with your presence and purpose, is essential.
For me, it began over 20 years ago when I was working for the State of Montana Human Services. It’s a fair statement that in most every work environment, there are daily stressful situations to manage such as challenging co-worker relationships and heavy workloads, but in my case back then (and on top of all those ‘standard’ things) I was also in the difficult position of determining welfare benefit disbursement qualifications. This means, I met with people each and every day who were in need of basic life essentials support, and more often than I “liked”, I had to send people away without having granted them the help for which they claimed to have desperate need. I had to follow the rules. I had to give food stamps to, or deny food stamps for, the applicants. It was so frustrating; there were needy people who weren’t eligible and eligible people who were not really needy.
I was in a position of tremendous “power” over the lives of these people, which as you might imagine, came with an enormous sense of responsibility and stress. None the less, the reality was, many of those whom I ultimately denied were indeed supplying fraudulent claims to gain access to Government Services reserved for people who were genuinely and truly in need… but knowing this didn’t reduce the stress associated with my work to evaluate, and decide, who would have dinner that night and who wouldn’t. I shared this type of daily strain with my co-workers, who were tasked with the same job I had, and so one day I realized we all “needed something” ourselves to not just carry on doing our jobs, but do so without enduring personal torment when saying “no” was the right thing to do. It was also about this time when I began to realize that my, then career path, was not my ‘ideal’ life’s work.
My Discovery of MY Uniqueness
It was little things at first, which were simply natural expressions of humor on my part, as I truly needed to lighten the atmosphere and keep personnel morale up, for my own sanity and productivity. Making people and smile and laugh is, for me, a necessary aspect to truly living a healthy, happy and balanced life… I’ve always been the ‘funny one’ in my family, so it was easy for me to find ways to bring humor to work and share it with those around me. In fact, these little things I would do, naturally and effortlessly, started to be noticed by my Supervisors, and even my Supervisors’ Supervisors. In time, I began receiving requests to provide Stress Reduction Training sessions for my office, as well as other Government Human Services offices. When I found myself being asked to spend more time in Training Sessions than evaluating the qualifications of Welfare applicants, I knew without a doubt that “someone was telling something” and it was time to make an official change in my career.
As I look back, it’s clear that the path from where I was to where I am now is easily broken down into a few simple steps:
· Step One: BE Who You Are
· Step Two: SEE Who You Are
· Step Three: Know What You Want In Your Daily Work Life
· Step Four: Refine & Tailor Who You Are, Specifically For the Work You Want To Do
Steps One and Three are likely the ‘easiest’ for most of us as these things simply “live” within us and may even seem difficult for us to ‘escape’. It’s Steps Two and Four which require a bit of effort toward personal evaluation and discipline in order to check off the list. Once you have really come to understand what makes you the happiest in your career and work life, it is much easier to look at yourself while being open to accepting what those around you notice about you, too. Frankly, the more you can “see yourself” through the eyes of others, the easier Step Four becomes.
Take the fullest advantage of the benefit of input from other people, whether you like what you hear or not… refining and tailoring yourself to accomplish your personal and career goals is a far more pleasant and efficient task if you can be open to not only what YOU see in you, but be willing and eager to look closely enough at yourself to truly see what others see about you, too. If we allow ourselves to live without routinely looking in the mirror and making the obviously necessary adjustments, then we may very well walk around all day with spinach in our teeth!
Whatever your passion and purpose, remember that it is YOU who makes the difference between a heavy-hearted or even dreadful life experience, and a happy, fulfilling existence… the only certainty in life is change, so be proactive about, and harness the power to control the direction of, the changes in YOUR life.
Visit www.TimGard.com for more information about my Coaching Services, Customized Keynote Presentations and Training Workshops.