Do you have a serious case of Sunday afternoon dread? That moment you realize tomorrow is Monday, and you have to go to work. Again. To a job you where you feel unfulfilled, bored, or overwhelmed. Chances are, you’re not using your strengths at work.
People who use their strengths at work are happier, more confident, less stressed, produce higher quality work, and are more productive. According to a Gallup poll, 25% of adults use their strengths most of the work day, which means 75% of adults are not leveraging their strengths in a way to achieve and sustain the benefits I’ve listed.
Now, what to do about it? Making a change can seem overwhelming, especially if you want to transition to another field. Many people don’t know where to begin.
These three steps can help you get on track to the work you love and are wired to do.
Step One – Ask yourself the following questions and log your answers:
- When was a time I felt energized at work? What was I doing? Take note if you were working with People, Ideas, Things, or Data. You can select more than one, e.g. People and Data
- What made my best job ever, the best job ever? If you’ve never had a best job ever, skip this question.
- What kind of activities do I not enjoy doing? (e.g. paperwork, attending meetings, working outdoors, etc.)
- What do I want that I don’t currently have? (e.g. I want to work with people, make my own decisions, solve problems, learn something regularly)
- Ask others close to you: What positive personality traits and strengths come to mind when you think of me? Log their answers.
Step Two – Think about the kinds of work you might do. Would you prefer:
- A realistic job where you work with your hands or outdoors? (e.g. firefighter, mechanic, contractor)
- An investigative job, where you solve puzzles, research, detect, or experiment? (e.g. police work, scientific research, laboratory technician)
- An artistic job that involves being creative, such as writing, photography, graphic artistry, architecture, interior decorating?
- A social job that involves serving society, such as teaching, social work, counseling, health care, or a minister?
- An enterprising job where you would make, sell, and manage a product or service?
- A conventional job in an office such as management, financial transactions, information technology, etc.?
Step Three – Think about attributes of your ideal work environment. Write down two lists. One list contains things you want in your work environment, the other contains things you don’t. I’ve listed 22 examples of work environment attributes. Add others you might think of:
Autonomy, short training time (e.g. 6 months or less), problem solving, managing others, 40 hour work week, non-standard hours (part-time/evenings/different shifts), routine travel, occasional travel, influencing others, contact with the public, making/fixing things, authority, working outside, working inside, working partially inside and outside, generating ideas, working independently from others, project work (tasks that last a week or longer), work that involves precision/exact standards, creating order, high income, financial challenge (advising others on finances)
Here is an example:
Mary works in regulatory and compliance. Her main duties are running reports and writing documentation, working independently in a cubical. She hates her job. After this exercise, Mary discovers the following:
Mary likes working with people and data. She prefers conventional jobs. Her work environment wants are autonomy, problem solving, influencing others, contact with the public, authority, working inside, generating ideas, financial challenge (advising others on finances). Her work environment do not want list contains: routine travel, working solitary, working outside, making or fixing things, managing others.
With this information, Mary can research conventional jobs working with people and data that have the attributes in her want list. Example jobs Mary might enjoy are financial planner, public tax accountant, or personal banker.
If you take the time to reflect on these three steps, you’re well on your way to curing your Sunday blues. In part two, I share a simple process to assist with decision-making and next steps based on your identified options.
All the best to you!