I have always enjoyed exercise, especially when I am chasing after a ball or aiming for something I can hit. However, life’s demands began to limit my time to exercise. I started running to get the most exercise out of the time I had. In the winter when it was too cold to run outside, I would go into the gym and get on a treadmill. It wasn’t enjoyable, and the scenery was dull. It met my exercise needs, but I didn’t get the same joy as when I was outside. The treadmill was a poor substitute for what I loved about exercise. I lacked passion for exercising on a treadmill. I had the discipline to do it, but I was less engaged because it wasn’t a joyful experience.
Work was the same experience for most of the job seekers I was helping. They were running in place and so bored with their work environments that they would periodically jump onto another treadmill only to find it equally unfulfilling. The whole cycle produces ever-increasing levels of disengagement. Now that I help career seekers from many different industries, I can conclude that the treadmill of disengagement exists in every sector of every industry.
So how do we break this cycle? How do people find careers that keep them engaged and progressing toward a more profound life purpose that will fulfill their dreams? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
Most career seekers lack a strategic process to gain the self-awareness necessary to define and achieve a career of purpose. Work should be one of the best and most fulfilling parts of our lives, but a lack of self-awareness has fueled the treadmill of disengagement in our workforce. Workplace statisticians agree that about 75 percent of the American workforce is disengaged in their work. That’s a pretty startling statistic. This disengagement has a profound negative effect on individuals, families, and society at large. The effect on our country and our productivity is nothing short of catastrophic!
Smart employers spend significant time, energy, and money cultivating a culture of engagement. By caring about their workers, they hope to avoid the much higher costs of lost time, energy, and money caused by high turnover. Organizations focused on high engagement and retention realize that the employer-employee relationship is like a marriage––the better you understand and satisfy each other’s needs, the happier everyone will be!
On the other hand, running on the treadmill of disengagement is like being in a loveless marriage. It generates frustration and bitterness for everyone involved. It doesn’t matter how many times you remarry, as long as you’re on the treadmill of disengagement, it can’t get better. Career seekers and employers need to understand that work satisfaction is a two-way street.
When you are not engaged, you will not be happy with your job. When you are not happy in your job, it has a profound impact on all other aspects of your life. I regularly speak with people whose home lives are adversely affected by their unhappiness in their work lives. If you are not happy and engaged in your work, you will feel burdened by it.
Work should not be a burden. We were created to work. Doing so creates purpose. Life lacks meaning when we do not work with purpose. This lack of meaning will rob you of joy. To be released from this burden, you must invest in knowing yourself. You were made for a unique purpose. You will only find that purpose through self-awareness. It will be helpful to have a logical process to uncover your career purpose. This process will free you from your burden so you can dream again according to how you were created to work. It is time to start to view your career decisions with more diligence.