Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Heart
May 18th, 2015 by Marcy Schwab
What do you want?
No, don’t keep reading yet. Really, I mean it. I want you to take some time to answer the question. You can think about it from a personal perspective or a professional one. Go ahead. Think.
I’m guessing that whether you chose to consider your personal or professional desires, a super clear answer is still not coming to you so quickly.
I can appreciate that you may not be able to read any further if I require you to answer the question, so you can read on. It’s no surprise that it’s not a simple question. How often do you think about what you want? Most people are thinking about:
- what’s expected?
- what makes the most sense given my current situation?
- what you do because you don’t think about it too much?
We are so impacted by our external stimuli and our internal inertia that it’s hard to step back and think about what we actually want.
Think back to your grade school years or even in high school or college. What did you say when someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Remember all of the possibilities? Nothing was closed off to you, and anything was possible. Smiling yet? While you may not have known exactly what being a television producer or video game designer entailed or required, you were thinking about those possibilities because they touched on things you liked or cared about. Your heart was speaking to you. And it was easier to listen back then.
Fast forward to now. You might have a spouse, significant other, children, aging parents, and certainly obligations. It’s not so easy to sit back and dream and then decide to go for what you want or think about what you want. Why waste time on that if you are making a good living and the external world tells you you’re successful by your job title, pay, career trajectory, etc?
What can you do to start getting into your heart and out of your head?
What Do You Like to Do?
What do you do in your professional life that you really enjoy? For me, I worked in highly analytical marketing and product roles and discovered a pattern over the years of loving the days I spent inspiring my team to think strategically and utilize their strengths to reach higher performance. On those awesome days, I spent more time being more strategic than tactical, more time listening and coaching. What aspects about what you do make you the happiest? Think about it from the perspective of work, home, with friends, or anytime. How can those things that make you the happiest be more a part of your life? Is there a way to work those into your work?
Get Back In Touch With Your Values: What Matters to You?
What matters to you? Another way to ask yourself the same question: what do I want people to talk about at my retirement dinner?
If you think about celebrations of someone’s life, which sadly happens most often at a funeral and not while someone is still here with us, the characteristics that people most recognize and laud are those that have little to do with one’s professional accomplishments. Admittedly, this statement is probably less true for cancer researchers, pediatricians, and social workers, but definitely more true for those of us in the business world. If you’re not one of those, and even if you are, shouldn’t you find a way to live your values more every day? While it could mean finding a different job that has more meaning for you, it could also mean staying within your corporate job and getting more in touch with what matters and finding a way to do more of it every day.
For You, Now What?
Getting out of your head and into your heart does not necessarily mean changing jobs, though it might. Before you update your resume, consider the following ideas:
Do A Values Exercise
You can run through a values exercise using a list of core values. There are many online that you can find and then sort. I like the one by Barrie Davenport, which can be found at: http://www.barriedavenport.com/list-of-400-values/ Take a deeper look at which ones rise to the very top and compare them to how you are living right now. Just knowing what matters to you can help you decide how much, if any change, you may want to consider.
Look for Opportunities to Adjust And ASK For What You Want!!!
Leaving your job may not be an option nor might you want to. If you find that you would like to make some changes, look around at the opportunities that are right in front of you. Maybe there is a lateral position for which you can apply. Maybe you can adjust the balance of work that you do. Maybe there’s an opening in the company of which you weren’t aware.
Once you have some ideas of what you would like to be doing, you are in a great place to talk to people in your organization and your network. Make a request and ask for what you want. It’s amazing what happens when you ask for something. You might get it. If you don’t ask, you definitely won’t. I made the adjustment from 90% strategic line management to 50% coaching and developing of analysts just by asking.
Make a Big Change
Sometimes we wake up and realize that we are just not happy. It’s so hard to make a big change. The benefits certainly need to outweigh the risks. At the same time, great things only happen with change. Really great things happen with big change. Once you know what you want, and if you discover you can’t get it where you are, that’s the best time to start looking around. Think differently. It might be the next corporate job or something similar to what you are doing now, and it might not. The answer may be something entirely different. Consult your friends and trusted colleagues. Ask them to tell you about yourself and see what they say. Then ask them for help in getting you where you want to go. When I made the change from the corporate life to my own venture, most of my good friends said, “It’s about time” and “You’re so much happier.” And I am. It’s not always easy, but I never go to bed thinking that I want to do something else or feeling like I’m not doing what’s important to me. I know my heart is in the right place, and it talks to me every day.
What matters to you? What small or big changes can you make? How can you smile more? Because real smiles…come from the heart.
Image Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals from Flickr
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