First, don't panic. Finding meaning in your work isn't something that happens overnight. It's a messy, iterative undertaking that requires time, patience and a healthy dose of self-reflection. You'll get there, but you have to start by taking small steps.
Self-reflection is an important part of any career. It requires learning about yourself on a regular basis. Once it becomes a habit of mind, the process not only gets easier, but also can shine a light on new interests you want to explore or changes you want to make to improve your current situation.
Studies find that spending a few minutes thinking about your future can have stunning results, boosting:
Your Best Possible Self
The "Best Possible Self" is one well-studied self-reflection exercise that comes from positive psychology research. It's one you can use to fuel a more fulfilling vision for your career -- one where your day is filled with more joy and less drudgery.
It's very simple and easy to do. In a nutshell, you picture yourself thriving at your absolute best during some point in the future.
Here's step-by-step how it works so you can try it for yourself:
1. Pick a time frame in the future
To make the exercise practical and immediately applicable, I suggest narrowing the frame to pick a date six months to two years from today. Imagining your life five or ten years from now is often hard to wrap your brain around.
2. Imagine a bright future, as if a magic wand is waved
What goals have you accomplished? What dreams have become a reality? What's happened in your career, relationships, or for your health?
3. Make it specific
Do your best to describe your vision in great detail. When you are your best possible self, how are you spending your time? What are you working on? Who are you spending your time with? How do you feel? What are you thinking? Visualize it in detail. Write it down. Even if they're just fragmented thoughts, it's important to commit your reflection to paper.
4. Note your strengths
When you think about this ideal future, what personal strengths are you utilizing? According to The VIA Institute, "Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave and are the keys to you being your best self."
The final step is to take action, however small. You can't embody your Best Possible Self every single day or by tomorrow, but you are probably much closer than you think to incorporating many elements of it.
After all, it's all inside you.
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