Why It's Important To Reflect On Our Professional Life

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Kay Roberts, MA

Have you ever taken time to reflect or ask yourself questions about your professional life? Questions such as; “Am I happy in my career? Am I working for the right organization? Do my personal values align with the values of my employer? Does my work bring me a sense of purpose and meaning?” Our professional lives are one dimension of our overall well being or our “life,” so it’s important to assess its quality and impact on our lives.

We’ve all heard the saying, Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

Reflect on your professional lifeAnytime is a good time to pause and reflect into our ‘state of being.’ This state is when we assess all aspects of our life, including our professional life, to see how things are going. In fact, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, reminds us developing healthy emotional boundaries are critical in the workplace, including skills such as how to make wise decisions based on what we really want in our professional lives. Goleman has a concept called ‘heartfulness’ to help bring to light behaviors we may be choosing without really understanding the full impact these behaviors may have on our professional frame of mind. Heartfulness warns us not to ‘grin and bear it’ or to not just ‘settle,’ but rather to find out for ourselves what we love and what we want. Perhaps it’s also helpful to remember aimless toil is devastating to the human spirit. How important is it to at least like what you do, who you work with and where you work?

When we stop to reflect on, or to take time to create professional life goals, we may discover it is time to enter a place of personal and professional ‘truth telling.’ When we choose to enter a pathway of truth, we work diligently at ‘seeing what we have not been able to see before.’ These moments of epiphany, when the ‘light comes on’ are powerful, and sometimes frightening, self-discovery moments.

The VITAL WorkLife Wheel of Well Being is a great first step in assessing where you are today in your professional life. Each new life stage brings us to a new place so it is important to re-access every few years. This way we are assured we are on the right path.

Why do we bother to do these types of reflective exercises about our professional lives? The search for happiness, meaning or purpose can sometimes feel illusive. But when we ask ourselves, what if one day, one week, one month and/or one year from now we could be happier and more accomplished in our professional life, doesn’t it seem a worthy challenge to undertake?

A time to reflectAt every turn a new chapter in life is waiting for us. Our willingness to take the first step defines our present and our future. Author Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book Simple Abundance, talks about how each of us can become the curator of our own contentment. She goes on to say rather than writing down our resolutions, instead write down our most private aspirations. What professional and life aspirations have you tucked away? How are you working toward being the curator of your aspirations?

Working with a professional coach can be a valuable resource for getting you off to a great start. Sometimes we need another person’s perspective to help us ‘awaken’ to what we cannot see. A coach helps us to define our goals and then create a plan of success. Whether you are in an early stage of a career or wondering about various options now with more experience, developing an effective career pathway is always valuable. Career assessments, followed with career planning, can further outline the steps you need to take to reach your career goals and life aspirations.

Whether the state of your professional life needs a major shake-up, or simply a bit of a tweak, reflecting on the state of your professional life is a healthy step to take in order to be aware of any number of changes. Asking ourselves a series of questions is one way to ‘get reflective.’ Questions encourage this reflective state include:

  • Is my work satisfying?
  • Am I passionate about my career choice?
  • Do I derive personal satisfaction and enrichment from my work?
  • Have I achieved my educational aspirations?
  • Am I challenged and motivated in my work?
  • Am I learning new concepts and gaining new skills?
  • Is my work meaningful and purposeful?
  • Do my personal and professional values align?
  • Do my values align with my workplace?

Margaret Young, an American actress from the 1950’s, had some wise words to address how we might look at our professional lives.

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

We Can Help

Need help getting started on a professional plan? Give us a call 24x7x365 for the support you need and we’ll help get you pointed in the right direction with our resources, counselors or peer coaches.

Call VITAL WorkLife

EAP members call 800.383.1908
Physicians Wellness Resources members call 877.731.3949

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc.™ is a national behavioral health consulting company providing support to individuals facing life’s challenges, while also assisting organizations in improving workplace productivity. This approach of helping employees and their families, while also guiding organizations, builds healthy, sustainable behaviors. Visit us at VITALWorkLife.com.

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