6 Ways To Reduce Work/Life Misalignment
The way I see it, the reason any of us feel dissatisfied, bored, demotivated or unfulfilled in our work is down to a misalignment. A misalignment between what you’re good at, what you consider enjoyable, worthwhile and purposeful; and what you're actually engaged in/paid to do.
The bigger the gap between the two, the more dissatisfied you’ll be.
Thank fully, there are many different ways one can make changes in their life to align their work more closely with their strengths and passions.
In fact I have identified 6, listed here in order of risk and reward:
- Adjust current role - ‘Job Crafting’
- Change roles within current company
- Change companies
- Become freelance
- Start your own company using existing concept
- Create a concept
As you can see, of these 6, some are simple requiring only minor tweaks to your existing situation. As we move down the list however, more and more commitment and effort is required for successful execution.
It is number 6 I will be discussing here. The riskiest but most rewarding of all: ‘create a concept’.
Wipe the Slate Clean
This idea centres on effectively wiping the slate clean and designing your work-life from based around you.
Ask any sculptor whether they would rather create a masterpiece out of someone else’s half-finished creation, or a fresh lump of clay and we all know the answer.
Working a role who's job description was written by someone else, alongside colleagues recruited by someone else and for clients amassed by someone else, is the vocational equivalent of being handed a half finished statue and told to ‘work with what you’ve got’.
When working within a system designed by someone else, long before they even met you, what are the chances that it will closely align with your personality and abilities? Slim.
Even the most flexible of working systems will ignore some of your greatest abilities and demand focus on your weaknesses.
Now imagine being given a fresh lump of clay, a nice clean slate, a blank canvas, or any other artistic metaphors you can think of. Now imagine crafting a role based entirely around you, your gifts, your passions and your interests.
Imagine never having to pretend to be someone you're not. Imagine realizing that what you thought were your biggest weaknesses, were actually your biggest strengths and that you could become the author of your own narrative?
Find Your Flow
Think back to times when you were in your element -or ‘the zone’ if you're American -and remember how good that felt. How quickly the time passed and how energized you felt afterwards. Now imagine being in this state most of the time.
All this is possible if you take the leap and design your work life around you! I know because I did it.
From dispassionately managing an engineering company, I wiped the slate clean and started afresh. I critically analyzed my strengths, interests and passions and, over time, designed a whole new business around them. A business that would make full use of my unique make-up and allow me to fulfil my potential.
To give you a quick idea of what I’m talking about I have listed these below and described how I am now engaging with them on a daily basis.
I could go on but won't for fear of sounding sanctimonious. I do hope you get my point though.
The point is, my previous role, however much autonomy I thought I had, wasn’t very aligned with the left-hand column above. The longer this situation continued, the more disengaged, unhappy and unfulfilled I would become.
The same could be happening to you but without taking a long hard look at the situation, it is often hard to see.
There’s Room For Everyone
The biggest obstacle preventing most of you from turning your current situation on it’s head and designing your own work life is in fact, your limiting beliefs.
In my experience, these limiting beliefs stem from the idea that there is no value in your story or the skills you bring to the table. That you are simply one of the herd and no more special than the next person.
Without turning this into a motivational rant, I am here to tell you that this is simply not true and that everyone has the potential to add their unique value to the marketplace. It’s merely a matter of finding the right place in the market and the best vehicle to deliver it.
This statement has never more been more true than right now. The world is changing rapidly and it’s dragging the workplace with it.
No Time Like The Present
An aging population, new technologies and environmental crises are all having impacts on the job market.
Industries that didn’t even exist 10 years ago now employ millions of people worldwide.
App devlepers, driverless car engineers, drone pilots and professional e-sports players are just a few examples of entirely new ways to make money.
This rapid rise in new forms of income is only just beginning. According to The World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school now, will ultimately end up working in jobs that are yet to be created!
The trick is to look past the stagnant mainstream labour markets listed on sites like Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn. If you limit yourself to the mainstream, you’ll end up being mainstream. Think new and think niche.
For every product that’s invented; macro trend that’s established; or industry that’s disrupted, there is a myriad of opportunities created off their back.
Traditional work sector dividing lines are becoming blurred meaning unique hybrid businesses and skill sets are not just accepted, but welcomed.
Allied to this, the barriers to entry into this dynamic new market are lower than ever. New technologies, crowd funding, access to information and availability of valuable resources mean it has never been easier to create, test, market and deliver a new concept.
Last night I chatted to a gentleman who had grown tired of the rigid structure imposed by the ad agency he worked for back in his native Poland.
His previous company had pigeon holed him into repetitive graphic design projects affording him minimal creative license. He realized that his craving for variety coupled with his strong personal interest in marketing provided a foundation on which a unique concept could be crafted.
He carved his own niche and now spends his life travelling the world designing bespoke branding and complete marketing strategies for businesses. He engages in both the hands on graphic design work, the strategic thinking and the implementation of his clients marketing concepts.
A unique work-life design that built entirely around him and his story.
An Open Invite
The fundamental method behind creating your own concept is to take two or more of our previously separated sectors and create your own new one, most aligned with your skills and interests. It’s as simple as that.
The common mistake most people make is to hear stories about what people like Richard Branson or Elon Musk have done and assume you need to be some sort of modern day superhero to play the game.
Whilst admiring what these amazing people have done and seeking inspiration and guidance from their achievements is a recommended strategy, it often leads to a sense of worthlessness by comparison.
Making these comparisons is dangerous. It can single handedly quash any dreams you may be cultivating, and is to avoided at all costs.
The fact of the matter is, with a small amount of money; some creative thinking; a dose of confidence in your own abilities and good old fashioned work ethic, the dream of fulfilling your potential and living your passions and purpose is available to many.
Life is too short to pass the time, unfulfilled in a role that doesn’t make full use of our talents.
Look around and realize the opportunities that are out there. Analyse your situation.
If your talents are being restricted by a pre-determined structure, designed by someone else and misaligned with your strengths and passions, now is the time to take the first steps to designing your own life and write your own story.