Many people feel that Work is not Working and through the pandemic many people have been provided with an opportunity to re-evaluate their relationship with work but perhaps do not know where to start. In the work I do, I get called in when things are not working. M.A.G.I.C. is the acronym for the principles that I have identified as often missing from most people’s working lives by the time I get called in: Meaning, Authenticity, Ground Rules, I, and Curiosity. Over the next couple of months, we are going to explore this model more closely which will hopefully help us toward re-evaluating our relationship with work and ultimately: make work work again.
Making M.A.G.I.C begins with understanding our meaning so this is where we will begin our journey to make work, work again.
Why do you do what you do? Sounds like an obvious question but with the cracking pace at which we’re living we often fall into new roles, new teams, and new companies without taking the time to get clear about the why. Why do we want to work with that group, why is that project important to us or why will that particular role fit well with other commitments that we have in our lives right now.
We often slip into new positions without stopping to reflect about the intrinsic value of the work we are doing. When this is not married to something that is important to us it can leave us with a sense of emptiness.
Let’s explore our meaning a little further and how this will impact our health and well-being at work.
We know that our brains crave certainty. Let’s face it though we certainly have not had much of this over the last couple of years. When we don’t have certainty, our brains can perceive this as a threat and respond appropriately with a stress response. Which in itself is adaptive and important in protecting us when there is indeed a threat but when this continues for prolonged periods it can become maladaptive and lead to exhaustion and burnout.
When we consider and identify our meaning, it provides us with something to tether ourselves to and we feel more safe and secure. The threat has passed and we no longer need that active stress response. In a world where we often feel that life is happening to us, identifying our meaning allows us to feel like an active participant in our own lives. And this feels good!
Another reason that we avoid considering our meaning is that it can feel overwhelming. Just like anything else that we approach that feels too big or too difficult to start, the best first step is often a small one. So, when considering meaning let’s start small. Throughout our time together I am going to ask you to keep a journal as we explore the different elements of M.A.G.I.C. By the end, hopefully, this journal will provide you with a roadmap to help you to get work to work again. Let’s look at some of those small questions that will help us to gain a better understanding of our meaning.
Think of a project that went really well with your current role or perhaps it might be in a previous role and write down what it was about this that was important to you?
Then I would like you to ask yourself what does a good week look like for you? This will obviously include the work you are doing but it might also be being able to go for coffee with someone, or finishing work on time so you can get to your daughter’s netball game.
Let’s drill this down even further. What does a good day look like for you?
Once you have finished these questions go back and take a look at your answers. They may very well provide you with clues as to what is important to you about your work; perhaps someone you were able to help, a goal you were able to reach that perhaps you thought was beyond you or even some change to systems or processes that made others lives a little easier or more efficient. By exploring these aspects of a successful project a good week or a good day you might be one step closer to understanding your meaning. Next week we delve into Meaning a little bit further…
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