Some of us choose our careers, while others fall into a career due to an unexpected opportunity. We usually begin with enthusiasm coupled with a strong learning curve, but over time, one of two situations occurs. We either continue to show up energized and excited about our contributions, or we fall into patterns and work becomes simply work. If you’re in the latter category, it’s time to rediscover your why.
If you can see how your product or service improves the world—or at least enriches your customers’ lives—it’s easier to realize your contribution. For example, I recently presented to a pharmaceutical company where a skin-cancer patient who was using their drug shared his heartfelt story, leaving the employees inspired and putting a face to their daily tasks. I wasn’t surprised to learn that some employees, knowing the role they played in patients’ lives, happily drove up to 90 miles each way to work.
You can still find your why by looking at the broader picture and bringing it back to your specific role. For example, imagine how your customers would respond if your products or services were no longer available. Or, consider the value your organization adds to the economy and the local job market.
It’s also possible to find your why by looking at what your job offers that’s important to you. If you want to gain technical skills, can you find someone in IT who will mentor you? Want to improve your writing skills? Study your internal newsletter’s style or save examples of a co-worker’s clear, compelling emails for reference. Does your office offer internal classes or class reimbursement? If so, sign up for everything that piques your interest.
If you still can’t uncover your why, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why you’re choosing to stay. If you’re staying to remain in your comfort zone, it’s time to change your why to, “Why not? Why not create a better position for myself? Why not me?”
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