Here is where to begin. Sit down with piece of paper (yes. . . you can use your tablet or laptop if you prefer) and begin to jot down notes around the following categories: (Try it. . . it’s not as easy as you might think).
Step 1: Personal and Professional Satisfaction Assessment
These are tools to help you reflect on your satisfaction with various aspects of your personal and professional life. (You may email me at Brzozowskil@xavier.edu, and I’d be happy to send you some easy to use templates. You can also visit the Coaches Training Institute.
Here are the dimensions against which to evaluate your own personal satisfaction (on a scale of 1-10):
- Overall Career
- Fun and Recreation
- Money and Finances
- Physical Environment
- Personal Growth
- Health and Well-being
- Spouse or Significant other
- Recognition I Receive
- Overall Job Satisfaction
- My relationships With Others
- My Communication Effectiveness
- Creative Self-expression
- My Results
- Career Development
- Climate and Culture
After you complete this self-assessment, ask yourself why you are satisfied or dissatisfied with each dimension, and compile a list. (It is not enough to say you are dissatisfied with your job, push yourself to explain why.)
Step 2: Personal Philosophy
According to Dictionary.com, Philosophy is “the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct . . . a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.” This seems a logical place to start. Answer these questions:
- Where are the boundaries you will not cross, no matter what?
- What are the main roles in your life that need attention (e.g. spouse, parent, team leader, coach, department head)
- What IMPORTANT principles do you believe are absolutely true?
- What would you want people to say about you on the occasion of your funeral?
- Assume you would never see your young child again, and you had 5 minutes to explain your life’s wisdom to them before leaving, what would you say?
Now with these answers in front of you, try to develop these elements:
- If you could encapsulate your “life’s purpose” in one brief paragraph, what would you say?
- Description of how you will carry out your main roles (spouse, parent, team leader, coach, department head, etc.)
- What are your priorities related to each role?
- What the important people in your life can expect of you.
Step 3: Personal Vision
Vision is a time bounded expression of where you hope to be some day, described in enough detail that you would recognize it if you ever got there. So imagine a time 10, 15, or 50 years in the future.
- Where are you? What are you doing?
- Are you happy? What makes you so in this future state? What does this say about what you value?
- Someone just showed you a draft of your biography. It has an overview chapter. What does it say about you? What was impacted as a consequence of your life?
- Does that future vision seem attainable?
Write a 1 paragraph description of what you would like to see for yourself, at some point of time in the future. (It should be detailed enough so that you would recognize it if you actually got there.)
With this, we suggest you formulate a specific set of life goals that you have. Start with a list, and then see if you can prioritize and condense them into a vital few. (This is probably an iterative process that you will revisit again after defining your personal values, and again after your action plan – checking for alignment.)
Step 4: Personal Values
Values are the beliefs that anchor you, and help you navigate choices you must make, and are guideposts to help you keep from going astray from your beliefs (from Personal Philosophy). These are some questions may help you flush them out.
- When are you happiest, most alive?
- What makes you angry?
- What about you gives you the most personal pride?
- What decisions have you made in the past that really made you feel good about the outcome?
From this list, and your preceding thoughts, see if you can generate a list of your personal values (such as honesty, commitment, respect for others), putting them in priority order if you can. Out of these, are there 4-6 that seem of paramount importance for you?
Step 5: Personal Action Plan
Call this an action plan or strategy, but it defines what you are willing to do now to begin realigning yourself to move in the direction of your Vision –broken down into the main roles you identified earlier.
Categorize them in terms of what’s important to do now, (this year), and after 1 or even several more years out. Review them carefully, in terms of their reasonableness, and on whether you have the priority right. (Remember that these in many cases, require the expenditure of personal energy. Deciding to change jobs, for example, takes considerable time and effort – developing a resume, reaching out contacts, networking, sending emails or letters, applying on various web sites etc. Ask yourself before you write it down, “am I really prepared to do this”?)
Another interesting idea is to ask yourself “HOW WILL I DETERMINE IF I AM ON COURSE?” This is kind of like choosing KPI’s at work. But you should build into you plan some commitment towards a periodic review. Your assessment could be achieved by doing something simple like discussing your plan and progress with your spouse or trusted friend . . . someone who will gently challenge you if you are not being honest with yourself.
So there you have it, a call to action, and a methodology to use. What’s holding you back? When will the time ever be more right?