By Curt Redden
Are you completely satisfied in your career or job? Whether you are just starting your career, or are more experienced, it can sometimes become a challenge to stay motivated, engaged, and happy all the time. It is likely you devote a tremendous amount of time in your chosen field, so how can you enjoy it more and make it truly extraordinary?
You can improve in this area by clarifying and focusing on your primal needs. While some consider primal as specific to stages of early man or evolutionary development, the Latin origins of primal (primus) is defined as essential, fundamental, and of most importance. So, what is most important for you as you seek to improve your work and life?
In researching top performers across industries, certain approaches and mindsets separate the vast majority of people from those who reach their desired goals. All activities are not equal. A PRIMAL approach for you in this context is about laser-like focus on what is most important or fundamental to your future success.
This process involves six key elements:
1. Purpose and passion. Everyone has something that drives them to do what they do and activities that help them connect to their natural talents. The challenge is figuring out what that is for you and then using it daily in your work. Maybe you’re thinking there is no way you can find passion in your current work. If this is the case, you may not be leveraging your unique talents and strengths in your current role.
You may not even be aware of what these are. Top performers consistently tap into what they love to do. They then dive deeper by focusing on the activities and areas where they have strengths. There are many great assessments to help you understand these strengths.
The key is self-discovery first, so you can then look for activities and projects in your current profession where you can exercise these talents so they become even stronger. You will also find yourself enjoying work more because it is more rewarding to work in areas you love and have natural ability.
2. Relationships. Once you have refined the areas in which you naturally excel, the next step is to identify the professional relationships on which you will focus and seek impimprovement. Nobody is successful alone. Study the top performers in your field. What do they do differently?
If you want to improve, you can dramatically accelerate your learning curve and improve your results by learning from those who have already achieved what you want to achieve. Invest the time to seek out a mentor who can help you, and be willing to give first. The relationships you establish and deepen in your professional roles will positively impact everything you do.
3. Intention and attention to the most important areas of your work. Not all relationships and activities are equal. The most satisfied top performers say no to the good so they can say yes to the great. They do this by understanding what key actions drive most of their results.
The 80/20 Pareto principle applies to your work most of the time. Named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, the principle specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. It states that 20 percent of the invested input is responsible for 80 percent of the results obtained.
If you look at your deliverables, you will likely see that 20 percent of what you do drives 80 percent of your overall results. How do you do more of the activities driving the majority of your results? Effective goal-setting processes can help you prioritize those things first, so you can increase your focus and execution in the areas that matter most. This will help prevent that sickening feeling at the end of the week, when you reflect and ask, “I was so busy this week, but what did I really achieve?”
Focusing on the activities that will yield the greatest return on your investment is critical to improving performance.
4. Measure. Once you establish your goals, you have to keep them in front of you at all times. This is often where people struggle with effective goal achievement. You effectively craft your goals, but then put them away. In order to win, you must keep score.
Having clearly defined goals and measuring your progress will keep you on the path to success, and ensure you schedule those things first. Best practices in this area include building a scoreboard for your most important activities and projects, and keeping them visible in your workspace. Gamifying this process helps you stay competitive with yourself, and it also helps others hold you accountable as you track your progress.
5. Attitude and perseverance. Everyone fails and has setbacks at some point. What do the most successful people do differently, and how can you emulate their resilience in your own life? Establishing and maintaining a positive, can-do attitude, in spite of your challenges, is foundational to helping you be successful.
This is much deeper than simply not whining or complaining when things get tough. This is the ability to rewire your brain to approach problems and challenges with “What is the opportunity in this situation?” rather than fixating on the negative issues.
6. Legacy and your work. There is tremendous value to be gained from considering how you want to be remembered by your colleagues, and the impact you want to have aligned with your purpose and your work. How will you give back and help others? Reflecting on your desired legacy will help you to identify the seeds you must plant today.
Fast forward to your retirement celebration and think of all the things you want people to say about you. What was your impact, and what will carry on in your work and contributions moving forward?
The key to success lies in formalizing and actively implementing your action plan in each of the six areas, pursuing your best days and your best work as you apply this PRIMAL approach.
Curt Redden is a presenter on talent management topics, Atlanta, Georgia, and coauthor of Going PRIMAL, A Layered Approach to Creating the Life You Desire (www.primalsuccess.com).