北京快3“I had a business trip cancelled and free time out of nowhere. I went home on a beautiful summer day and as I pulled into my driveway realized my family was scattered doing their things and that I had no friends to reach out to or hobbies that I had once loved. I sat in the car for more than an hour thinking about how I had gotten to that point.”
北京快3This comment from a well-regarded software executive reflects a pattern I’ve seen in my work with hundreds of successful executives. Leaving college with a range of interests and friends they choose a career that optimizes money, status, and sometimes a sense of impact. Work ramps up quickly to 12+ hour days, commute and travel result in less exercise fewer social events, and a general narrowing of their world to work and a few select friends. Buying a home and starting a family follows, further limiting social interaction and increasing financial pressures, thus making work even more central.
At this point, these executives double down and move to a bigger home, better neighborhood, or into a school district that feels like a natural extension of what good providers do. Sometimes they upgrade twice. In any case, this is the step that leads them into an echo chamber, where there’s no time for friends (sometimes family) and work defines their entire existence for 5-8 years. They fall out of the final groups and activities that helped them cope with the stress they’ve put themselves under. If the activities were skill-related like tennis or running with a group, it becomes almost impossible to catch back up with those who stayed with it.
If they are lucky they wake up in an epiphany moment like my Silicon Valley friend. Many are not, and end up burning out, divorced, and in crisis.
北京快3As my colleagues and I have studied these people for over two decades, we’ve noticed that there’s a select group that doesn’t fall prey to this vicious cycle. These are people in the high-performance category of their organization who also score high on measures of well-being. So we’ve spent time identifying what makes them able to manage a successful career while maintaining those critical social activities that create happiness.
What we’ve found is that they almost always have cultivated and maintained authentic connections in two, three, or four groups outside of work: athletic pursuits, volunteer work, civic or religious communities, and social clubs like book or dinner clubs. In contrast, people that were on their second or sometimes third marriages, unhealthy to a point of crisis, or with children that simply tolerated them almost always had allowed life to become uni-dimensional: work. Success at their jobs exclusively defined their life success and slowly took them out of all these groups and activities.
How do they get there? With the best of intentions, actually. A seductive way of justifying our choices to become uni-dimensionally focused on work is to look at life through the lens of provider: We are making sacrifices for our family. It is not that family is a bad choice. To the contrary, this is a critical anchor in our lives. But when all we do is work for our family and that defines us, we’re actually not providing for them the way we could if we maintained those other social ties. Paradoxically, a singular focus on providing through work robs our well-being and creates vulnerability.
北京快3You may feel, especially in these days in which many people are thinking more deeply about meaning and purpose, that you have become this uni-dimensional person who is unhealthy and vulnerable. You can change course and re-establish activities and social connections that will improve your life, and the lives of your loved ones.
To start, let me offer three ideas.
1. Shift just one activity to create diverse purpose-generating interactions.
Our sense of purpose in life is constructed through interactions in and out of work. For many work is a legitimate source of purpose, but 50% or more of how we experience purpose and meaning is through the constellation of relationships around us. Purpose is not just in the nature of our work but also in the networks around the work. People in organizations doing noble work — curing disease, saving childrens’ lives, educating — can be among the unhappiest while those doing seemingly mundane things feel a stronger sense of purpose. Both work and life connections create a sense of purpose. Work connections that create purpose include:
- Leaders and organizational culture: Working for an inspiring leader or vision, or being part of a culture that does the right things and cares about colleagues’ success.
- Peers: Co-creating a meaningful future and engaging with those who share similar values authentically.
- Teams and mentors: Creating a context for peers, teammates and mentees to thrive– helping, seeing growth, sharing your learning, being transparent and vulnerable.
- Consumers and stakeholders: Receiving validation from consumers of output — science curing people or products that improve life for example.
北京快3Life connections that create purpose include:
- Spiritual: Interacting around religion, music, art, poetry, and other aesthetic spheres of life that put work in a broader context.
- Civic and volunteer: Contributing to meaningful groups creates a wellness benefit of giving and brings you in contact with diverse, but like-minded people.
- Friends and community: Forging connections through collective activity: athletic endeavors, book or dinner clubs, relationships maintained with children’s parents.
- Family: Caring for family and modeling valued behaviors as well as maintaining identity through interactions with extended family.
北京快3The goal here isn’t to suddenly shift your life to address all of these. We just want to start by shifting one activity. Which one? Use this activity to choose.
Reflect on the figure above. First, allocate 100 points to spheres that currently provide you with the greatest sense of purpose. Ones where you don’t allocate 100 points are spheres that could add dimensionality to your life.
Second, in the middle of the circle, indicate one activity that if you shifted could have the greatest impact on the largest number of spheres. If this is not immediately obvious to you think about interests from your past. Leaning back into athletic pursuits, hobbies, and passions are often the first step for entrenched people to slingshot into new groups. Once you have one, commit to a goal in that sphere by reaching out to the group it will involve. Set hard rules and engage family in re-enforcing your pursuit.
北京快3Once you’ve consolidated the shift into your life, do it once or twice more. You will discover, as others have who’ve gone through this exercise, that the excuses you were making for not connecting outside work, are just that, excuses. You do have time and work will adapt if you let it.
2. Be intentional in small moments.
Look to engage more purposefully even when it seems like there’s little time to accomplish much. Focus on how to shape rather than be shaped by all the interactions coming at us today. For example you can:
- Live “micro moments” intentionally: Simply demonstrating to others in small moments that you believe in them, or lifting them up, or helping them do the right thing will help you; uncover commonalities between you; understand their aspirations. Simply altering the way we engage in existing relations often uncovers ways our existing network can fuel a sense of purpose.
- Create a persistent dialogue on what is worth doing: People who avoid crisis moments in life spend more time talking with others about ways to live life. One successful executive formed a board of people that she relied on in hard times. Unlike traditional mentors, this group was younger and older and from all walks of life but helped her consistently reflect on how she was engaging with purpose.
- Return to relationships: These strong relationships are often forged in difficult situations. How you handle adverse moments with others, your ability to see possibilities and be proactive, and to commiserate with others will get you through hard times but also build connections that you go back to.
3. Boldly lean into times of transition.
北京快3See transitions as opportunities, not threats, to discover a new and better version of yourself. Notice and unplug from things that are draining purpose then reinvest in new activities and groups you want to engage with, that you feel would be a positive part of your purposeful identity. Most important, stick it out even when it seems scary or difficult.
北京快3Consider a very successful high tech executive that over a 20-year career had become someone she did not plan to be. Her job’s toll on her health and identity slowly burned her out and she quit a job that many would envy. She decided to lean into her health and try yoga. And knowing her cynical tendency promised her husband she would try it three times.
The first time she rolled her eyes at the overly nice people who showed up. The second time she internally mocked the “flaky” and “granola” instructor. The third time she endured a little better but nevertheless felt she was done. As the class ended the instructor walked the room and touched every person on their head.
To my friends deep surprise she broke into tears. As she unpacked this she realized that this was the first time she had let herself be vulnerable or authentic in a long time. She fell out of pose. She felt exhausted from what looked easy. But she shared this vulnerability with strangers in the room — not something that her corporate persona would have tolerated. Flash forward and yoga has become a central component of her and her husband’s life. It defines a large portion of their social world and even their vacations. But this never would have materialized without her leaning into and persisting through a transition. The relationships formed through the activity added dimensionality and perspective to her life that had not been there when work ruled all. They became a source of resilience. And they helped create courage to live life on her terms rather than others’ definitions of success.
To identify and capitalize on moments the way this executive did consider the following:
- Initiate transition when it makes no sense: The time to stretch is when you are comfortable or when you feel you need to hunker down to get through a situation. Lean in instead. Surge into a transition with early and broad outreach recreating connections into existing activities you enjoy (faith or sport) and initiating at least one new one.
- Focus on your aspirational self, behavior, and relationships: Use the transition to reflect on socially defined goals and aspirations or historical conventions that have shaped you. Reflect on one way to invest in work you want to be doing or one activity with others that would add dimensionality and breadth to your life.
- Beware of shocks or surges pulling you away from your values. Don’t let your reaction to a negative moment or stretch of time take you from who you want to be — too often what seems temporary becomes embedded in expectations around you.
We live in challenging times to be sure. But our experience is often of our own making. Never in history have we had a greater ability to shape what we do and with whom.
北京快3Don’t cede this control. If you’ve lost it, take it back. I’ve seen again and again, those that do have the greatest sense of purpose and well-being.