8 Tested Ways to Feel More Engaged in Your Career
Do you find your work meaningful and rewarding? Do you feel engaged in your role and enthusiastic about the direction your career is headed? If you answered no, you’re not alone. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, 79% of people feel disengaged at work, with 60% feeling emotionally detached and 19% who describe themselves as miserable. These are pretty dire statistics when you consider the impact that our careers have on our overall happiness and wellbeing. If you consider yourself to be part of the 79% of people who are disengaged at work, here are 8 practical ways you can start to feel more engaged in your career.
1) HAVE A CLEAR VISION
It’s no question that having a clear vision is one of the most powerful things you can do not only for your career, but also for your life, and it’s vital when it comes to feeling more engaged. If things have been feeling a little flat for you, it may be that you’ve fallen into the trap of living life on autopilot or following someone else’s vision for your life without even realising it. When you have a clear vision for what you want in your life and you can articulate what’s important to you, you can begin to craft your career and life in a way that feels engaging.
A great question for you to reflect on to increase your engagement level at work is: if you followed the joy in your career, where would it lead you?
If you want more support with getting clear on your vision, there’s a wonderful 4-step process to creating your life vision that we take women through in the Women Rising program, which will give you an amazing place to start.
2) HONE IN ON YOUR PURPOSE
One of the best things you can do to feel more engaged in your career is to hone in on your purpose and what feels meaningful to you. There’s a lot of research that’s been done in recent years which shows the positive impact that meaningful work has on employee engagement levels. In fact, as Tom Rath explains in his book, Are You Fully Charged?, “the odds of being completely engaged in your job increases by 250% if you work on meaningful projects each day”. That’s an incredibly powerful statistic and one you should consider in the context of your own career.
Take a moment to reflect on the following:
- Are you able to engage in something that feels meaningful each day at work?
- What are the aspects of your role that feel the most meaningful to you?
- How could you bring more meaning to the work you’re already doing?
If you want to explore this further, take a read of our article 4 Ways To Create More Meaning At Work.
3) LEVERAGE YOUR STRENGTHS
If you’re feeling disengaged in your career, it’s time to start leveraging your strengths. Your strengths represent those patterns of how you think, feel and act that make you excited, energised, and engaged in your work and life. They are also the patterns of behaviour that lead you to perform at your best, which also fuels your confidence. When you’re using your strengths, you’re taken into a flow state, where you’re completely engaged in the task at hand.
It’s not only your engagement levels that improve. A growing body of research over the last decade is finding that when it comes to your career, developing your strengths is good for so many things: your wellbeing, helping you to feel happier, less stressed, and more energised and satisfied with your life; your performance, helping you to feel more confident, to experience faster growth and development, and to find more meaning in your work; and for the bottom-line, with people in strengths-focused teams reporting lower turnover, increased productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
The reason why so many people aren’t leveraging their strengths is because unfortunately, it appears many of us are blind to our strengths. A good place to start is to take the free VIA strengths survey, which looks at 24 character strengths and helps you to identify your top 5 signature strengths. Once you’re aware of your signature strengths, you can start to play to your strengths and look for ways you can bring them into your daily life more often.
4) KNOW WHERE YOU’RE AT ON THE MASTERY CURVE
If you notice you’re starting to feel stifled or a bit bored and you’ve lost enthusiasm in your role, it may be that you’ve reached the top of a mastery curve and you’re ready for a new challenge. The career mastery curve is a 3-phase framework that we teach in the Women Rising program to show how we progress from novice, to experienced, to mastery in different aspects of our career over time.
Having a good understanding of this framework and knowing where you’re at on the mastery curve is a really great way to make sure you stay engaged in your career. When things feel dull, chances are you need to find an aspect of your role, or a new role altogether, where you can jump back to the novice phase and learn something new.
5) INVEST IN POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Who we work with is as important as what we do and psychologist Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, has written extensively on the importance of relationships to happiness and fulfilment. What we know to be true is that investing in positive relationships in your workplace will help you to find more meaning and feel more engaged in your career. Take a moment now to think about your own career. Who are the people that you enjoy working with? Who are the people that inspire you? Who are the people that support you in your role? And how could you invest more time and energy in those relationships?
We often look at the tasks we’re doing or the subject matter of our work when we want to feel more engaged, but often it’s a case of looking at the people that surround us and how we can strengthen our positive relationships.
6) CONNECT YOUR WORK TO SERVICE
There’s a fable you may have heard of the three bricklayers who were all working on the same wall, building a cathedral. Someone asked the bricklayers, what are you doing? The first said, I’m laying bricks. The second bricklayer replied, I’m building a wall. And the third answered, I’m building a great cathedral for God. They all had the same task, but they all had very different ways of looking at why they were doing it. The third bricklayer had a really clear vision of how the daily tasks of laying those bricks fitted into a broader and more meaningful purpose.
This is important because we know that when people are working with a sense of meaning and purpose, they feel significantly more engaged in the work they’re doing. Meaning is found not through serving ourselves in isolation, but through connecting and contributing beyond ourselves. Where can you find more meaning in the work that you’re already doing? Can you connect your work to service and ask how can I make a difference for others?
7) JOB CRAFTING
Professor Amy Wrzesniewski from the Yale School of Management is an expert in how we experience work. One of her areas of research was an in depth study of hospital custodial staff to determine what helped certain members of the staff excel. She uncovered a practice amongst the happiest and most effective custodians that she termed 'job crafting'.
These hospital workers were focused intensely on serving patients, even though they were cleaning the hospitals. And they would create the work they wanted to do out of the work they’d been assigned.
They found more meaningful and more worthwhile work doing this. For example, one of the custodial staff would rearrange artwork in rooms to stimulate the comatose patients’ brains. Others devoted time to learning about the chemicals used for cleaning rooms and figuring out which were least likely to irritate a patient's condition. They were pursuing excellence in service to others, and they would adapt their jobs to suit that purpose, whilst creating more meaning for themselves in the process. Think about how you can craft your work to bring more meaning into it.
8) FIND A MENTOR
Another way to feel more engaged in your career is to identify the knowledge and skills that you’d like to develop and find a person who could mentor you in that area. A mentor can provide insights and feedback from their own experience to help you in your career. They can help to build your confidence, provide a safe space and be a trusted person to go to as a sounding board.
Reflect on the areas of your career where you currently need mentoring. It may be around an aspect of your career planning, or it could be around your personal brand. Maybe it’s a more personal thing about how you balance your workload. What are the areas that you feel you need that mentoring support? And when you think about your ideal mentor, what are the qualities you are seeking and how can you identify who the right mentor is?
If you don’t currently have a mentor in your career, take a look at our cheat sheet guide to career mentoring for more tips and ideas.
And if you’re looking for more tools and support for how you can feel more engaged, refreshed and inspired for the rest of the year, then our August coaching call is for you. Join us for an uplifting session that will motivate and encourage you. We will cover:
- Key reflective questions to bring you back to your vision for 2022
- Resetting and refreshing your priorities for the rest of the year
- How to reconnect to your sense of meaning and purpose
- Creating time for renewal and building your own restoration toolkit
You can register for the free coaching call here. We hope to see you there.
And if you want to go even deeper, make sure you join us for the Women Rising program. It’s a complete game changer.