Imagine you have a job that you think will safely, securely, and simply take you to retirement as long as you just hang in there. You think you are reasonably happy at work, despite the usual hassles and bureaucracy we all must endure.
Then one day, your boss calls you into her office for your annual review. This is the only time each year you meet with your boss because the nature of your job is that you work very independently and autonomously. In fact, your boss knows very little about your job. She has never done your job, and by her own admissions couldn’t do your job.
In your annual review, she talks about what you have done well, what you need to do to improve based upon some customer feedback, but then tells you of some major restructuring going on that will result in some layoffs, and she warns you that you are at risk of losing your job.
What do you do next?
During my career, at various times I have either been this boss or been this employee.
The boss is quick to point out how talented you are, that you will quickly be able to find a job somewhere, and wishes you luck.
But what what you do you want to do? What do you want to become? What is your “why”? What is going to guide your job search? What will give you meaning for the next ten years of your career?
The science of Positive Psychology states that we all need five things to be happy in life:
We need to focus on the good and not get weighed down by the bad. We should identify what we are grateful for, what we are good at, what we can have faith and hope in, what we can be excited about, what we can share to lift and support others. This is especially important at times of trouble and doubt like when we lose our jobs unexpectedly, or when we know we are at a professional deadend and should move on. My wife tends to be my geiger counter on this and when she sees it blinking she warns me and tells me it is time for a career change.
Engagement that takes us to flow
We need to find and engage in those things that we believe in so strongly and we love doing; we need to get lost in the activities associated with them, enter into a state of flow, where we lose track of time and space as we engage in meaningful, positive activities. This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to start a quest to find our passion. More often than not, it requires us figuring out what we can become more passionate about that we may already be doing, which often requires us to double down on who and what we are by taking more risk to start to becoming something different, something better.
Relationships that support us
We need to associate with people who are also positive and who will help us in our journey. These are family members, friends, associates, and strangers. What I have always been amazed by is how helpful most people want to be, even total strangers. Most people you meet with give you freely of their time and ideas if you ask for the help. Most people want to be useful and helpful to others, but they generally need to be asked. And to be asked means that you need to figure out what you want to do and what questions you need to ask – you can’t expect them to decide what you need to become – you have to do that.
Meaning and purpose in what we do
Our becoming is a process in which we should always be engaged. Unfortunately, often times we become lazy and become satisfied with who we currently are. But when our world get’s rocked by sudden, unexpected and disruptive events, then we must start to search for the purpose and meaning that should fuel our journey to become something new and better – life should always be a journey of becoming – becoming something better.
Accomplishments and achievements we can point to
As we become something new and better, we need to set goals and objectives that we can use to measure our progress, to show that we are moving in a positive direction. We all need to be able to see that we are truly becoming what we set out to become.
So, in an effort to practice what I preach, let me share what I am seeking to become over the next several years as I apply this approach to myself as a result of my own recent life changes.
I have spent the past ten years exploring how to innovate, particularly in digital health, and how this innovation could transform the practice of medicine. I have authored over 60 articles, book chapters, and books on the topic.
I have become a student of behavior change, positive psychology, neuroscience, and peak performance.
While at the university in the past five years, I have helped students apply this in class on projects and with their startups.
I have done consulting with companies large and small to advise them on how to proceed in their innovation journey.
But, despite all this, I have felt a strong desire, even need, to do more. To not just teach and advise but to do. To become a transformational leader that makes this happen.
Despite this strong feeling of the need to become a doer, it was too easy to remain on the sidelines as the professor and consultant. It was only due to my own recent unexpectant jolt that I was forced to become something new and better. And my wife geiger counter confirmed that this was the course I needed to take.
So now, I am taking a leadership role with Happify to lead their business development efforts among pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations to apply their outstanding digital mental health engagement and therapeutic platform to help millions of patients and consumers improve their health and wellbeing. Through my future blog posts I will share my journey through as I meet with new people, explore innovative new opportunities, and create new sources of value as we deliver innovations that improve people’s happiness, health and wellbeing.
Stay tuned …