Many moons ago I felt unsatisfied with the work I was doing. I had a great salary, I was working around people I genuinely liked and enjoyed spending time with them both inside and out of work. However, I felt a void that I could not fill.
In an attempt to figure out what I needed from my employer, I sat down one evening and wrote a list of some of the things I wanted from my next career move. It wasn’t long after that I found myself working for a non-profit charter school supporting educators, community members and best of all students who were not only eager to learn but motivated to do the hard work necessary to be successful.
That being said, I was in the perfect place. I was using my current skills to change lives indirectly by being a member of a village but also by becoming a mentor, educator and down right friend to so many people. I say all these wonderful things not only because they’re true but while I loved my career move, I was also stretching my limits day to day. This increased my skill set by taking on multiple tasks but it wasn’t long before I started to feel overwhelmed with the work I was doing and questioned how impactful were my contributions as it pertained to our mission and goals as a school. I smoothed out some kinks here and there, implemented some concrete systems and even talked a few people off the theatrical ledge during stressful times but on the grand scheme of things, I often felt like I was just another body in the room, keeping things quiet and steady.
To restore my commitment and passion for my work, I decided to regroup during spring break and focus on the small wins and on how I spent my time each day. Following are three tips that I’ve outlined that may help you figure out why you chose the path you’re currently on. The objective is to capitalize on the small wins and here’s how I did it:
1. Celebrate the small wins
Without fail, I found that time and time again, I would be in project management mode, where I am so wrapped up in forecasting my next move or looking for short comings that I didn’t simply stop and appreciate the small wins. In my position, I wouldn’t be the person on a praise list for a student getting accepted into an Ivy League school, and that’s ok. When I stopped to appreciate the small wins, I was able to appreciate the detail and hard work put in by my team and myself to ensure that those same students had what they needed to be successful. By being more mindful of the small accumulative task I was responsible for in the drive to get students into college, I became less overwhelmed at work and remembered my purpose.
2. Engage in the conversation
I have good news and bad news. The bad news is you’re not a mind reader. This imaginary capability would make everything so simple and it would cut out the guesswork but it’s not a realistic option. The good news is that effective communication is equally successful when you begin discussing commonalities in the work place. I described myself as a member of a village because I know others who are equally, if not more so, as passionate as I am about education reform. Engaging in conversations with liked minded peers not only serves as a reminder to your mission but also to your passions outside of work.
3. Do something you’ve never done before. Repeat
When was the last time you volunteered to do something outside of your normal day-to-day responsibilities? When I was unable to pin point the impact I was having as an employee, I started to migrate into other departments. The luxury of my position was that operations had their hands in everything. These were people I worked with to get jobs complete, but when I doubted my impact, I started looking at their jobs differently as well. I volunteered my services and lead some intense programs but the best part was that by working in these other areas, I obtained a broader view of the organization. Using what I learned through volunteering had multiple benefits, I learned a new technical skill and I applied it in an under developed area within my own team.