As 2022 approaches, it’s time to reflect and re-examine your career focus

Let’s face it, the past two years have been crazy and, if you’re like most people, you’ve been asking yourself whether you’re in the right profession, working for the right employer, honoring a work-life balance, or even musing if you’ll ever have the courage to hang out your own shingle.

Whatever your circumstances and desires look like, one thing is highly likely — that you’re not looking at your relationship to work the same way as you did pre-pandemic.

“People are having career awakenings,” said LinkedIn executive Drew McCaskill. “They’re looking at how they work, why they work and setting their lives up according to those values.”

Dorie Clark, author of “The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World” (Harvard University Press) agreed. “Now is the perfect time to pause and reflect,” she said. “Ask yourself what did and didn’t work for you, where you’re proud and not proud about the way things went.”

Be bold, put pen to paper and focus. We often glaze over our successes and struggles but taking the time to pause and look at them closely has significant value.

Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark recommends jotting down your failures, successes and ambitions for the new year.
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Author, keynote speaker and storyteller Kindra Hall, whose book “Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out” (HarperCollins Leadership) comes out in January, shared an anecdote about all the juggling and arranging she had to do so that she could give a keynote speech from her apartment during the pandemic.

“I put my two young kids with their iPads in the closet in our apartment and filmed my speech while my mother in Arizona read stories to my children,” she said. “Can you imagine? The point is that we all worked together, we were creative, and we made it through. I’m confident about the future.”

Kindra Hall.
Keynote speaker Kindra Hall says she struggled to take care of her children while delivering speeches from her apartment.
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But it’s not only strengths that can be captured by looking back. Clark is an advocate of the 80/20 rule. “Find the 20 percent of your activities that deliver 80 percent of the results. Spend more of your time there,” she said.

Look for minutes and hours you spent in meetings that could have been covered via e-mail or where you weren’t necessary. You’ll see that neither you nor your employer would have lost much, if anything, had you said “no” and used your time in a different way.

“Are you managing your time, or is time managing you?” said Karen Mangia, an executive at Salesforce and author of “Success From Anywhere: Create Your Own Future of Work from the Inside Out” (Wiley), out now. “Being deliberate about how you use your time is critical to your success. Believe it or not, you can always make more money. But you can never make more time. Choose wisely: Align your time in a way that’s deliberate. That way, you establish new routines that help you to take advantage of what you’ve been given.”

This is an exercise that you have to commit to. “Take the time [to do it]. If you can’t do it then and there, book the time now [to do it in the future],” said Amelia Dunlop, chief experience officer at Deloitte and author of “Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work” (Wiley), released this fall.

Workers are also asking: “Why are we doing any of this?”

Amelia Dunlop
Deloitte chief experience officer Amelia Dunlop finds that many employees feel useless at work.
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“The answer might be different during different parts of your life,” said Dunlop. The trick is to figure out what you need. “It’s usually some mix of pay, job description, title/role, who you work with and for, whether you commute or travel, how much flexibility you have, and what you actually do. Get honest and use the information to create a personal value equation,” said Dunlop. “If your needs aren’t being met, it’s hard to feel worthy.”

Dunlop undertook a survey of 6,000 individuals, and found that nearly one-half reported that they “struggle to feel worthy at work.” It might be tempting to believe that your employer will fix it, but that’s probably a recipe for disappointment and frustration. In other words: “It’s up to you,” said McCaskill. Once you start, “It will probably [feel] more freeing than frightening,” said Hall.

Karen Mangia
Salesforce executive Karen Mangia emphasizes that utilizing your time is more important than making more money because “you can never make more time.”
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But research conducted by LinkedIn earlier this year revealed that 59 percent of employees admitted that their current job was not the one they intended to do over the long term, but, “most folks can’t afford to say ‘Screw the mortgage, quit,’ ” said McCaskill.

Top tips for 2022

Consider a career switch

You may not need years of education or training, either. LinkedIn offers a free skills assessment tool that can reveal, for example, that a bartender or server who is tired of working on their feet has 71 percent of the qualifications required for a role in customer service or at a call center.

Positivity has its rewards

“If you look for small moments of joy and happiness, you can retrain your brain to become happier, more creative and motivated at work,” said Hall.

Learn to say ‘no’

“You could spend your entire career working on other people’s priorities, but you’re judged on your results, so spend your time there,” said Clark. She suggests focusing on high-value activities where you have something significant to offer rather than sitting in meetings or partaking in other work activities despite not having much value to add.

Unleash your own inner strength

Mangia suggested you ask yourself what she calls the genius question: What could make this easier? “Success is more often about what we take away rather than what we add,” she said. “Which obligations and beliefs are you holding that no longer serve you? Release obligations and discover joy [and] breathing room — and a chance to begin again.”

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