Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a class on one of my favorite topics - discovering character strengths and learning how to practice them to improve one’s sense of purpose, engagement and satisfaction. Often, folks are drawn to this topic because they are unhappy in their current job and are seeking a new experience. It is common to hear them tell me, “Things would be so much better if I got a new job” (or switched careers, or got a new supervisor, etc.). I am used to getting looks of disbelief when I tell clients or class participants that changing to something new may not be the answer. The grass may be greener, but you still have to mow it.
It is human nature to idolize the “new” - “I will be happy when I get a new job, haircut, figure, spouse” - you fill in your own word. How often have you experienced getting to “new” and being vaguely disappointed? What went wrong? In my own experience and witnessing my clients’ experiences, we don’t take the time to fully identify our strengths, talents, skills, interests, values and dreams. If we do the work to find out what makes us tick, we can then ask ourselves, “How do I honor what’s best about me?” - whether that is in a new job or the one we currently have.
So, here is the beginning of your self-awareness journey. Take some time and answer the following questions:
What are my character strengths? (Visit www.viainstitute.org to take the VIA Survey)
What are my talents (natural ability)?
What are my skills? (Talents and skills may be identified by taking StrengthsFinder 2.0)
What are my interests?
What are my values?
What are my dreams?
Once you answer these questions, ask yourself, “How can I practice my strengths, talents, skills, interests and values in my current position?”. If it is extremely difficult to honor who you are in your current job, then a change may be in order. But, you will have a much clearer vision of where you want to end up - and you will be happy cutting the grass.
P.S. - Leaders encourage their direct reports, peers and colleagues to go through this self-discovery process. Share the questions!