Is your Job a Highway to Personal Development or Despair?


Do you get so immersed in your work, that you lose the big picture and miss the obvious?

Well, sometimes the obvious just isn’t that interesting — but how your job influences your personal development is one obvious fact you can’t afford to miss. Rest assured that no one else will. Your career is your quickest and most powerful route to self actualization or self denigration.

Why? Because you spend 55% or more of your mental energy and creative focus on the job.

We mostly think in terms of time when we consider how much of our lives we give up for our career or employment, so it might be tempting to think that you only give 25% of yourself to your work. And that may be true if time were the only factor, but…

How much do you really give to your job?

You are awake for only 112 hours per week. You work 40 hrs of that 112 (probably more). Those 40 hours then, represent 36% of your total available hours.

We are not talking about time spent though; we are talking about how much mental energy and creative focus you burn up. If you are typical, you use twice as much of that resource per hour, when at work, as compared to your personal time.

Instead of spending 25% of your total time at work, or 36% of your waking hours on the job, you actually spend 55% of your total consciousness, energy, and creative focus, at your workplace.

Many of you spend much more, but even 55% is a huge chunk of the best that is in you. And it begs the question…

How does your career affect your personal life?

You might be fortunate. Maybe your job makes you a better, happier person. That is the goal. But what if your job drains you? What if it robs you of self-esteem and personal power?

At best, the majority of people get little or zero net gain in terms of personal growth from their employment.

How would it feel instead, if you could use the bulk of your clearest, most creative energy, to advance your personal development? What would it take to think of your employment as an income producing, self-guided, self-actualization workshop?

Use your career to grow as a person

Here are few thoughts toward using your employment as a vehicle for your personal development. You can think of many more, so please share them in the comments, but for starters…

  • It is not always about doing what you love — but doing what you do — in a way that you love.
  • Cultivate integrity at every turn. When you offer less than this to others, you damage yourself.
  • Two-legged challenges are personal invitations to grow. Remember that your job is really about relationship with people (including you), through tasks, concepts, hierarchies, products, etc. Connect the dots and learn to spot where the relationship is failing. What part do you, or can you, play in that?
  • Take your positive persona home with you. Many people learn to relate remarkably well with others when on the job. Be that person for your family also. It can operate the other way around as well.
  • Practice communicating what you want in a way that serves everyone. Make a point of letting your bosses know what you desire, what role you see yourself playing, and how it benefits all. This builds personal power.
  • Own your actions and be accountable for everything you say and do. Ownership and accountability lessons abound in the workplace. Take full advantage.
  • Think in terms of the benefit to people that your employer’s product or service provides. Rather than the numbers, prioritize this benefit. The product and the revenue follow. It is always about people.
  • Is it time for a change? Sometimes the best way to grow through your present employment is to recognize when you have grown out of it.

Find a new job that will empower your personal growth

Some companies just don’t care about corporate citizenship or positive product benefits. Their mission is to make money through product sales, regardless of the benefit or damage their products bring.

There are thousands of good companies though, who contribute to society in a positive or necessary way. They offer genuine benefits through their products, and money in this case is — the measure, not the substance –- of their success. If they carry that philosophy into their employee relations, it’s a bonus for you.

Here are some thoughts then on making a good career change or finding a better job. Be sure to add yours in the comments section.

  • Examine your aptitudes and skills carefully. Trace them back to their source, instead of remaining fixed on how you have habitually applied them. Be creative around how you could use them differently. What is your heart and intuition telling you?
  • Ignore the help wanted ads unless you are in a rush. When you apply for an advertised position, the company controls the process. By approaching them first, you establish an equal and respected communication. That there is no lineup behind you is also a good thing.
  • Research an employer as you would a personal development workshop. What do they offer? What is their mission statement? Is who they are a match for who you are? Do you feel you can make a positive contribution to the group? Will joining them challenge you enough? Do they actively encourage creative input? What does your gut say?
  • Do not give your power away to any person or company. You are not asking for a job — you are creatively presenting a proposal to a company you feel will be exciting to team up with.
  • Seek out companies you would like to work with. Know the names and background of their key people. What would it be like to work there and where would you fit within their organization?
  • Money is secondary. Your primary goal is to develop happiness and genuine satisfaction, by rising to challenges that interest you. Income flows more freely from this anyway.
  • Hold out for the right position with the right firm if possible. You could otherwise be caught in a money trap doing something you despise. It’s tough to leave a position, even a soul-destroying one, if you are making a bundle of money doing it. Don’t go there.
  • Be good to yourself by raising the bar. Honor yourself and take action toward what you know in your heart you should be doing.

You give so much of yourself to your employment. Make sure that it gives back to you also, and know that it is in your control to ensure that happens.

Every time you enter your workplace, remind yourself that you are there for grander reasons than doing a job for a paycheck. Use every circumstance you encounter, to grow, and to become more creatively engaged.

Seeing your work in this light will add immeasurably to your personal life. It will also advance your career. The quality of your work will improve, and your attitude will be a positive influence on coworkers — and higher management.

On a larger scale, if we all made a good effort in these regards, we will change the nature of employment, the social conscience of employers, and ultimately we will change the world. The greatest power for positive world change is in the hands of business, because business harnesses and employs the bulk of the world’s creative energy. Remember — 55% of it. Let’s use it to our advantage.

Please encourage others by sending a link to friends and coworkers (or use the Print command in your browser for a neatly formatted print version).

Over to you now.

One thought on “Is your Job a Highway to Personal Development or Despair?

  1. Pingback: Zen Advice Column: Jobless Reader Fears Losing Home — Zen-Moments

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