By Jill Berquist, Now What? A-Team
Recently Ginny Kravitz joined me on a community call to discuss tips for the pursuit of meaning and happiness in work, life and love. We came up with some interesting ideas about the quest for meaning in relationships and in work. And for our purposes, this quest need not only be in a new relationship or new career, you might be seeking this where you already are. In other words, you can want more in your exiting partnership or current role as well. Here are some of the parallels we saw:
- Begin with awareness, desire, and a mindset of optimism. In either quest, whether in love or work, start by making room for the journey. Acknowledge to yourself that you have a desire for something more. It’s important to believe, with a positive view, that something worth pursuing exists. Without this, and with human nature’s way to resist change, you’ll likely never seek more at all. And wanting more doesn’t mean that you aren’t grateful for what you have. Years ago someone told me to do a dialogue with my husband each night for a week, with this model: “What three things I love about you are: fill in the blank. The three things I am still learning to love about you are: fill in the blank. It was a way to state what I was grateful for while still expressing my needs. That balance worked well. In your existing career role, acknowledge what works well, that is, the aspects you would want, even if elsewhere, and also note how it can be better. If you are wanting more, assume better is something you can achieve, and it’s worth the pursuit.
- Check if you are too picky vs. picky enough. What might surprise you is that Ginny and I agreed that many people we coach on career transition are not picky enough. We help them make lists and prioritize their wants and needs, and yet sometimes they don’t believe it’s okay to want all that they do. It’s not about helping them expect perfection, (see next bullet!), it is about designing the ideal, believing you deserve it, and then staying open to the way in which it shows up. Like anything you want to attain, in love or in relationships you do best when you do have the design. Once you do that, you’ll be able to know you have found it when you see it.
- Nothing is perfect. Perfection is a myth and I’m not sure I’d want it. The truth is, life is not one flat line of emotional experience anyway. If it were, you’d never really truly be happy. To experience happiness and meaning you must have a relative point of comparison. To experience high, you must know low. Relationships and careers are full of a wide range of emotional states – from interest and allure, to boredom and frustration, and back to happiness or excitement again. Personally, I don’t believe there is only one career that will provide meaning, nor only one person who can make you happy. That said, if you are lucky to find either of these, I would suggest holding on for a while.
- Love at first sight is a snap judgment. In career searching and dating, we put so much pressure on ourselves that things be as we hope. And what if the situation does not map right up to our lists, ideal profile, or priorities? We want answers. In the Harvard Business Review article, Finding the Job of Your Life by Gianpiero Petriglieri, (the article that got Ginny and I talking about this topic to begin with), Petriglieri references a first date. He notes that at that moment we rarely ask ourselves “is he or she the one?” He says we are more likely to ask “is this going any further?” As you explore options for work, whether interviews or projects, with each step, check your lists (and your intuition!) and you’ll know if it’s worth going to the next. In relationships or work, each step reveals more about what you want, and helps you make a bigger decision, when it’s time.
Whether you’re in the quest for meaning in work or in love, the bottom line is that the journey is a daily one. More realistically, a moment to moment one. And when we finally realize the journey for meaning is just that, a journey, not a result, filled with a broad range of emotions and experiences, we free ourselves up to an even greater level of happiness. This Valentine’s Day, I toast to meaning in all areas of your life. At least for the moment. And may that moment also be filled with a scrumptious bite of chocolate.