Tell me the last time you actively thought about what you needed? It's time to upgrade your professional life.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re stuck in someone else’s professional life? Are you hanging on for paychecks and advantages more than actually discovering your own true strengths and needs?
Here are a few more for you...
Do you want to better manage your time and efforts? Do you want to change jobs or career? Become a consultant? Work part-time or from the comfort of your own home? Do you want new challenges, more money, work less?
And for the kicker...
Have you ever thought about what you needed in your professional life?
These are all great questions, wants and potential needs. And that’s why you need to start thinking about them and take action!
Possibilities overflow when it comes to what we want but shouldn’t be the case for what we need. So it’s time you stopped thinking about thinking and started acting and focusing on what YOU need!
But before we go further a few words of caution for you...
Be aware that making changes in your professional life can have significant impacts on people around you. Not only your coworkers, but possible impacts on friends, family, kids and especially boyfriends & girlfriends, husbands & wives.
Do not take this warning lightly!
So before going too far, talk with your friends and loved ones and always remember to minimize the impacts for the people around you, especially the ones you love.
To help you in the process, get someone that knows you well enough to give you a sense of direction, understanding and just raw support. It makes a tremendous difference. Trying to do everything alone isn’t the best way to help you move forward. I personally find my girlfriend the best option if I were to do this today, as it would minimize possible impacts on her and includes her in at the same time. A basic win/win.
Now some would say no to this involvement, thinking they’d be protecting their loved ones from change, but I beg to differ. Why? Well, like it or not they may and will be impacted by the changes you make... so might as well make them part of it from the start. Sooner better than later. Now that the warning is out of the way let’s keep going.
As I’m writing these words, my thoughts are as clear as they’ll ever be on this subject.
Especially when unsatisfied, unhappy, unchallenged or simply tired of their day-to-day, people usually get scared and uneasy about making changes in their professional life.
We all have an internal voice that sometimes says, “don’t rock the boat”, “consider yourself lucky,” “what will they say” and so on. These voices can be strong and brought to us in sudden masses.
With our modern constant overconsumption of goods and services, many of us have totally forgotten what we really need. I need this car, I need this new sofa... no you don’t. It should be more like “I need to be respected,” “I need to stop working on Friday nights,” “I need air to breathe”; those are real needs, not just wants!
Now some may laugh at this but it’s true. As you may need air to breathe, some need their personal space, particular working times and other changes to be happy at work; because we are not all the same. And most companies don’t get this. Many companies kill individuality and creativity for the sake of respect and professionalism, but is that really appropriate? Is that really creating an environment of problem solving? Winning?
As for your needs, it doesn’t stop there. Now I’m not talking about homes, cars, trips or which restaurant we’ll go to next. The real question here is — What do you need in your professional life?
For better or worst, society has slowly but surely programed us to spend our time and money on not so important things and think about what others could think of us. Since childhood that’s what many have told us so many times: Don’t do this! Don’t do that! Why would you say this? What will people think?...
I was lucky as my parents encouraged individuality, creativity, problem solving, team work and wanting to be the best I could be. Failing wasn’t punished; not trying was the real devil in the room. For that, I am a very lucky person.
And what about later in life? You hear things from people like consider yourself lucky. Lucky to have a job, a home, friends and so on. Ish ... now these are depressing thoughts! But you need to stop listening to these negative thoughts. It needs to stop, and now.
From personal experience, several of you may have that uneasy feeling when it comes down to actually think about what you’re doing and especially need at work and whom you are really doing it for. Now there’s a key concept to note...
“Who are you doing this for?”
The response should be immediately in your mind, and the answer should be “I’m doing this for me and not for anyone else.”
Basically, the idea is fundamental and the bottom line should be about the following “Are you satisfied, happy or content about your current position and work setup (hours, responsibilities, location, vacations and so on)?”
To help you better understand my perspective, here’s a basic scenario that differentiates an average worker from content, fulfilled individuals with their professional life…
“What do you do?”
Average: “I’m an IT consultant.”
Content: “I’m a consultant that specializes in analyzing information systems to better secure what they exchange. I identify potential risks and participate in the creation of solutions to minimize those.”
This example could’ve taken many different forms, but as you can see, for me the differences are just massive. Not because one uses more words to answer the question, but you can really feel the difference in depth, the passion, the “wanting,” even more, there's a system...
To the untrained eye this doesn’t look like much, but for the curious and observing, you can just see how the second person will use progression, movement and actions to define what they’re doing in their profession. A clear internal and external structure to answering.
Content and fulfilled professionals aren’t just a “thing” or an “object” professionally! They are an action-based solutionner part of a system; part of something bigger than themselves, they have passion.
You’ll also find you better understand what “they do” as how they’ll present this information practically requires you to ask other questions; basically, you feel like you need to interact more with them (that’s a key indicator... always!).
When a satisfied and content professional answer that famous question, they answer it with information that creates very positive feelings and a possible open conversation once its answered. This in turn creates curiosity, movement, exchange and in the end, interest.
Come to think of it, it’s similar when somebody asks you a personal question. A classic question such “Who are you?”...
Many: “I’m a 43-year-old dad.”
Few: “I’m a curious, self-motivated, passionate man that likes to stay active and challenged, physically and mentally. I have a great girlfriend and am the father of a bright teenager that really knows how to challenge me.”
Can you better see the difference? For me it’s monumental. Many present their lives in a way that is such a turn off, it kills me to hear this... I’m a consultant, I’m a dad... That’s it? Really? Well, that’s kind of boring if that’s the best you can do.
So if you find yourself more as the average and are possibly looking for a change, this post if for you. If not, I’m sure you can go back to YouTube or Netflix and find something interesting to watch. And remember...
For some reason, content people don’t focus on a title, but more on what their participation is in, an idea, process, solution...
This is where I stand, as I was lucky in life and was mostly surrounded by this type of professional. So without even knowing it, I’ve never really answered these types of questions in a boring fashion.
All this brings me to this post.
Needs & Change
Some changes are simple, but others are more complex. For the simplest things we have other posts and I’m sure you’ll great information on the web. For the more complex changes, most need a bit more advice and motivation. Here at boomseb, we’re not interested by the easy, but the tough.
To be more precise, numerous individuals think they can’t change their work situation and that profoundly pains me. Well… “Yes, We Can” as Barrack’s campaign said it so well back in 2008—wow that’s already 10 years ago—time does fly by...
I haven’t seen a better description, explanation of work related issues and the ultimate solution than from author Athol Kay:
"Trying to fix a terrible workplace is a huge task, so you can’t really decide to work on fixing all that. However, you can decide to work on yourself and push it harder to get a new qualification or a better job.”
Later on he adds:
"It’s usually when you stop doing a bunch of things doing nothing more than maintaining a Stagnant situation and start doing a few things really well that your life starts improving.”
Objectively, Men and women will put hundreds of hours thinking about the worst possible outcomes if they change anything at work.
Think about it for a minute … how much time have you unconsciously or consciously put into stagnation, unconstructive or negative elements about work?
In the end, I find many professionals just put in a few minutes about fun and positivity at work after a drink or two during an event, BBQ or night out. They, by accident, talk about what changes could be fun and better for them at work. We sometime come up with the most ridiculous ideas during such periods … but you know what?
These, at first may look like ridiculous ideas, but they could possibly be the foundation of a change in your professional life!
And that’s my main bug… How can people put so much energy on stability, stagnation or simply a defined structure that may or may not be for them as an individual? And what’s worst? Most don’t even act, they just surrender to what it is. People easily give-up!
Now I’m not advocating on dumping everything, screaming freedom! to your boss and leaving for Costa Rica. What I am saying though is, don’t you want to think about how things could be better for you, and not just your employer, office, team, clients or partners?
Simple steps such as changing your week schedule? What if you could work part-time during the summer, or become a consultant able to help more than one company or client at time?
The possibilities aren’t necessarily endless, but you get my point. Change is good, and here’s one aspect to inspire you a little!
I remember my situation. A bit less than 10 years ago, I was working so many hours, and yet, I didn’t feel really satisfied. Yeah, the salary and advantages were great. I had a great team, supporting partners and I mostly had fun around team members and customers.
But in the end, I just didn’t fit me.
Was it my partners, my age, the office, the clients, the domains we worked in or something else, I’m still not sure and may never really know, but ultimately who cares. One thing was clear, it didn’t click. I’d worked hard for so many years and yet, I had lost a sense of direction.
Let me give you a few examples…
- When I wanted to write about something and felt super creative, I was stuck in meetings.
- When it was sunny, I was stuck inside with architecture diagrams and spreadsheets.
- When one summer it rained for a 2-week period, I was on vacation.
- When I or my son felt sick, I had to go to the office as someone hadn’t fix a problem.
I have so many examples it’s ridiculous. But one morning I said that’s it. I was somehow convinced that rejection was better than regret. Something needed to happen.
I remember that morning as it was this morning and will never forget the change of focus I made. I was going to change my professional life now; not in 10, 20 or 30 years. I decided I wasn’t going to wait for my retirement to do something I was really passionate about (even if I’m not a big fan of the retirement concept) it’s still a good image for most.
Instead of focusing on my day-to-day responsibilities, I started thinking about what I wanted in my professional life. Thinking about other things, different concepts I could do with my time. Other clients I could work with or for. What friends or colleagues could help me make a change and so on.
Fully aware of my challenge, I started breaking down what I knew, didn’t know, what I wanted and somehow, how I could get there.
I also started thinking about my goals, values, motivations and what was really important for me. I also gradually minimized what I had to do for others; especially what others needed to meet or surpass THEIR goals.
Goals would now need to include me and eventually my team aspirations. No more blind help. There needed to be a point to my efforts; a win-win situation basically.
So I put together a plan and executed it in the space of just a few months. Not years or decades, but a plan with key steps that could only make me go forward. NEVER backward; unless an extreme situation would arise.
Also, I stopped focusing so much on material things, cars and basically anything that didn’t make my life better, simpler, more fun or functional. I started training way more than I usually did, and took back the physical and mental shape I wanted, as I knew, it was important for me to make things happen.
With this little snapshot of my life, I then encourage you to try and think more about positive outcomes and ways you can change your professional life today, tomorrow and next week, but for the years to come ... not just a period.
For additional inspiration, changes don’t have to be drastic... Simple things such as:
- Would you like to work from home?
- Would you like to be able to better bridge family/work balance?
- Is your vacation time, not vacation time anymore?
- Do you miss your family or friends when you work at 11 PM on a Friday night?
- Would you like to have different clients?
- Are you frustrated every morning you get in the office?
- At the end of the day, are you the happiest person when leaving work?
The list could go on, but if you answered yes just to one of these questions, somewhere you need to make a change. Not today per se, but start thinking about what you can do to make it happen. Don’t wait to be in your grave, at that point it’s too late.
But what if you don’t?
This is an important question, what if you don’t do anything even if your not satisfied? Let me tell you one perspective and why this is really bad for you and people around you in the end. Because our actions are the true message we’re sending out to people!
Many people think they’re making changes, they talk about it, but if you really want to see what’s going on with people, look at their actions; it's really that simple. That’s one of the most powerful action I've learned in life, and something I’ve learned to do growing up in my family.
Looking at people's actions is one of the most powerful practice I've learned in life.
If you really want to know what people think, look at what they do. An extreme example, is when I interact with people and tell me things such as “I want to lose weight”. The first thing I do after having a discussion, days or weeks later, is simply look at what they do later on. It's NOT an obsession of mine; I don't even think about it today, it's just part of me. Not to judge, but because this is covert information they're sharing with me and most don't even know it.
So if I keep seeing them eating chips, drinking cheap juices and folding in from a cake, for example, I know they are not sincere. Now I'm not talking about the occasional pleasures in life, that's all good. I'm more interested by what people do day-to-day, week-to-week; and it goes further than that.
People that talk but usually don't do, aren't sincere nor authentic with themselves and to others, and that includes us! So how do you think I treat the relationship after such repeated events? I adapt and this directly affect how I value the person - boom.
I have no shame about this and totally own it; walk the walk, talk the talk. This is how many professionals work around us, and by the way I’m not the only one, most executives and successful people do the same; many don't even realize it!
Have you ever thought why you weren’t chosen for a certain position? Especially a senior position? Well let me tell you a possibility. It may have nothing to do with technicalities in your resume or the potential lack of direct experience in the job. Many times, it’s because people have already talked about you to others, and they may have received some information such as presented previously. Something like “She’s great at what she does, but you know what... I’ve heard she sometimes talks about great ideas and products, but ultimately, she doesn’t act on it when it’s time to do it."
I’ve heard this so many times, it’s scary. Even without knowing it, people have revealed so much information to me and others, simply because they don’t act the part. They sound good and you know what, they may look good, but in time, they don’t go for a full swing!
In a few words, that’s why being truthful to yourself is absolutely about a change in your actions. If you don’t do what you think or say, you will most usually fail. But that’s another subject for another post for more details on the subject.
My point here is — don’t say you will do something; don’t just wait for something to happen around you. If you think this approach will help you, it most usually won’t. If that’s what you’re waiting for, you’ll wait for a long time...
Take more calculated risks if you like, but do take some risks. As without them, you may lose anyways in the process of not changing, being better, being stronger. Think and build a plan. Have goals. Have a sense of direction. Be assertive and move forward.
If life has shown me one thing—nothing is more constant than change.