Sunday, March 21, 2010

Are You Stuck in the Shallow End of Life?

Playing it safe and swimming in the shallow end of life will never leave you fulfilled.  Of course, we all need our jobs: we need our paychecks, the security, and the knowledge that our family needs will be covered. Trust me, as a single mom for most all of the last 20 years, I know all about survival. Even when I was checking groceries at a local grocery store after completing both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology, I found meaning by connecting with regular customers who always seemed to bring their problems to me!

Unfortunately, for many of us, focusing solely on "making it" leaves us a bit lost. We also need meaning, and when we don’t have that in our job, a place where we spend a huge portion of our time each week, we are often left feeling lost, thinking, “ What is the point?” “Am I really even making any kind of impact in this world?”

So, what does all of this have to do with playing it safe?  We all know people who complain about their jobs, day in and day out, but never really do anything about their complaints. They might moan to coworkers and occasionally begin conversations with, “If only..” but they are not really doing anything to change their situations.

When we want change in our lives, we need to dare to do something different. We need to take a long hard look at our values, our strengths and our long-term goals and decide if we are taking action that is in alignment with those. When our actions are in congruence with our heartfelt values and strengths, we feel energized, confident and able to meet new challenges.

If you are feeling unfulfilled, confused, or unsure that you are on the right path, there are many tools that might help, including Clifton's Strengthsfinder, which is free with a purchase of one of Gallup’s associated books, described here. I have used this survey and found it to be quite valuable.

Another wonderful tool is free; it’s called the VIA Survey of Character, which identifies your top 5 signature strengths. The Via report, found here, takes about 30-45 minutes to complete and is totally free. Yes, I know, I said that already, but how many excellent resources do we find that are completely free?  The VIA, backed by years of research by top psychologists, not only identifies strengths but has accompanying resources on how to utilize your strengths in daily life so that you can experience more fulfillment.  Sometimes the discovery of a value or strength helps illuminate a frustration you have experienced in your current situation.  This validation and new understanding often spurs people to act and make changes in their lives.

I wish you all the best in living a life that utilizes your true, best self.  Life is much too short to stay in the shallow end.

1 comment:

  1. Joan,

    Welcome to PEOPLEGOGY. I hope you find writing here to be enjoyable and matching your own personal mission. As a therapist and a kindergarten teacher, you bring a unique perspective, and I very much look forward to you inspiring the readers.