According to a study at the World Health Organization (WHO), most of the world’s population spends one third of their life working. This is an enormous amount of time when you consider all the other demands on our lives (family, volunteering, religious obligations, housework, etc). In order to thrive in those conditions, you need to understand why you work. What is it that inspires you to get out of bed every day?
When I ask clients what motivates them to get out of bed every day, I inevitably get the answer, “my alarm clock!” Yes. Your alarm clock gets you out of bed every day, but you wouldn’t have set that alarm clock unless you had some motivation each night. When asked to go deeper, many people talk about money. Yes. You need to earn money in order to provide for your self and maybe your family. However, if you are only getting out of bed for the basic pay check, you don’t have as much inspiration to continue to thrive in your career, and elevate your leadership skills to the next level. You could coast along where you are, which does require work, but it isn’t nearly as satisfying as working for something that makes your heart and head thrive.
Many people dream of owning the sports car, the mansion, the vacation, and having endless financial security. These are all wonderful things that we would all love to have. However, the material possessions inevitably depreciate, and we are still left feeling unsatisfied with our work. What I encourage you to do is to look internally, rather than externally. What makes you thrive? Many leaders and entrepreneurs when they achieve their initial goal, they reach a plateau. They don’t continue because they are making the comfortable salary. They got the car they wanted, but they inevitably end up unsatisfied with their lives.
What makes you THRIVE? If you were to disappear tomorrow, what would you want you want people to remember? When you can answer that question, you have found your core. You have found that motivation that makes you want to get out of bed each morning. Do you want to advance medical research? Do you want to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs? Do you want to be an example for your family? Do you want to change lives? For me, I want to make a difference in the world. I want to inspire people to be comfortable with who they are, and recognize that they have strengths that are extremely valuable to the world. They have the capacity to learn and grow throughout their lives. I want people to recognize that one of their strengths is that they have a voice that can be used to work together to build relationships and build a civil society that is innovative, collaborative, and respectful. That is what inspires me to get out of bed each morning. This is what makes me thrive.
When you know what makes you thrive, it is easier to stay focused. We are always going to face some sort of adversity, some sort of push back. Maybe people will be judgmental of our path, or we will feel like we need to keep up with the Jones’. But when you know what you want to achieve out of your career, you can focus that third of your life to become a more complete part of the whole of your life. You aren’t just a leader who works to fulfill the basic obligations of your job. You are a leader who lives and leads by example, and is motivated to continue to learn and grow in your position.
Life is too short to think only in on dimension and to think that our work is completely separate from who we are. We have to learn to focus not only on the need for money to survive, but also to be present and know what we need to do to thrive, and ultimately help our organizations and community thrive. It doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle, or that we won’t have times that we worry about the necessary funds for survival. It means that we are open to the fact that we have more to offer, more to learn, and more room to grow as leaders and members of society. So, what makes you thrive?