5 Journaling Prompts to Get the Most from Your Current Role
In this article, Ellen M Bard, author of Your Work Wellness Toolkit, explores how you can love the job you have even when everyone else is resigning around you…
Picture this. You open your weekly paper to discover that record numbers of people in the West are leaving their jobs. The article reads that their life priorities are different in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and they’ve decided to make big changes.
You’re also feeling ready for something different. You wonder if you should move on to another job, but it’s less practical for you to do so right now. It takes time and energy to interview for a different role, and constraints like family, benefits, healthcare, location, and other factors mean staying put works best for you at the moment – but the stress and pressure of the pandemic means you’re still seeking change.
You worry you should move, that you’re not getting enough from your job, that you could do more somewhere else. You’re anxious you’re missing out. You don’t know what to do.
I’m here to share that you don’t need to move companies to grow and develop to love your job more. Ask yourself the below questions and find out how you can get more from your current job, without all the hassle and stress of changing companies.
1. What is important to you at work?
Work is one part of a life well lived, but it’s a big one – the average person spends a third of their waking life at work. We often consider how our personal life can include what is important to us, but we sometimes forget to do the same thinking for our job.
What needs would you like your work to fulfil? Creativity? Security? Growth? Achievement? Connection? Financial?
Journal on your work values – the aspects of your work life that are most important to you and see if you can circle 4-5 words as to what you most want to satisfy.
2. What are your expectations?
Expectations are your beliefs about the future – what ‘should’ happen. Understanding both our visible and hidden expectations help us to examine whether we truly, deeply want these expectations to come true, or whether we’ve inherited these beliefs from family, friends, or through comparison with others.
Journal on your expectations about your current job, your organisation, your career, and yourself at work.
How realistic are these? How aligned are they with your values? Is everything pointing in the same direction? What would happen if your expectations came true? What has changed over time with your expectations?
3. Where can your current work situation match your values and expectations?
Now you’ve identified what is important to you in your job, both now and in the future, you can consider how your employment might be able to fulfil these.
Some of this might be obvious – for example, you might be a graphic designer and you have a need to be creative – but in other areas this is an opportunity to dig deeper.
Ask yourself: what is involved in your working day? What tasks and actions do you do that are related to your job description? What are you doing that is over and above this? What is critical in your job role?
Match your values and expectations up to the different parts of your role. Which are fulfilled the most? What is missing?
4. What else can you do to get your values and expectations met at work?
By now, you know what’s important to you, and you’ve identified the areas where you are and aren’t getting these satisfied.
Think about what else you can do to get your needs met in the situation you have. Consider the situation from a broad perspective – are there lateral moves you could make, projects you could get involved with, or social activities in the company you could connect with? What does your work network look like internally and externally? What are the benefits your workplace offers that you’re not currently taking advantage of?
Use these journal prompts to help you –
What are your strengths?
Where could you develop and grow?
Where else could you contribute both in your department and in the organisation more widely, or even in your profession?
Could you mentor or share knowledge and courses with young people or others who might benefit?
What other tasks could you take on to help you meet different values?
Where might your organisation or manager compromise on aspects of your role you hate, or new activities you might want to take on?
Is there a way to redefine your role or job description to align it more to what would nourish you?
5. Be grateful for what is
We’re hardwired as humans to look for the negative, and research indicates that in our interactions with others, we need a ratio of 5:1, positive/negative.
We can use the same formula for other things in our life. Make a big list of all the positive aspects of your work – friends, connections, network, the opportunity to work from home, the food in the cafeteria, access to shops, the opportunity to take courses, people to learn from, a great client list – this is going to be very individual to you. Then the next time there’s a difficult situation or you’re feeling down about your role, look at your list and spend some time meditating or journaling on five of the positives.
Aim to be your best self in the workplace you have
Life isn’t perfect (far from it), but there is often more we can do to explore the job and environment we have, rather than always pushing for change or thinking that things are better somewhere else.
Listen to your inner voice (the part that sounds like a best friend, rather than a critical parent) and open yourself up to the opportunities around you. Look with a creative eye to see incremental ways to deliberately meet your personal values and needs.
You might just realise you’ve been in your dream job all along – or at least one you no longer have to sleepwalk through!
About the author:
Ellen M Bard is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, and Registered Psychologist with the Health Professions Council. For the past 20 years she has worked internationally in consultancy in both the private and public sector, including at some of the largest companies in the world.