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Workview: Reflections on What Work Means To You

 As we’re nearing the end of the year and getting into more of a reflection mode, I thought I would share an exercise that has made a huge impact on me. The Workview reflections is an amazing exercise from Designing Your Life, a book that has transformed the way I look at work and how I work.

This short exercise is especially helpful to go through if you are unsure about what you’re looking for in work or what meaningful work looks like to you. It’s also a favorite among my readers and clients, so I’m really excited to share this with you today!

The Premise:

Workview can be thought of as a manifesto for work. Rather than a job description, this is the set of values that you define what you think good work is. Your workview can serve as a compass while you navigate life, similar to how side projects can lead you closer to your dream life.

You may not know what exactly you want right now or will end up doing, but you want to make sure that you are going in the right direction. And in a corporate sense, to make sure that one is not climbing up the wrong ladder after all those years. Your workview is a north star that can guide you towards a fulfilling career.

Time for you to shine:

Est. time: 20 minutes 

This exercise may seem unfamiliar to you, don’t worry – it was also my first time being asked these questions when I did this! And no need to write a full-out essay, just jot your key thoughts down.

1. Why work?

2. What’s work for?

3. What does work mean?

4. How does it relate to the individual, others, society?

5. What defines good or worthwhile work?

6. What does money have to do with it?

7. What does experience, growth and fullfillment have to do with it?   

This will take less than half an hour to fill out, so go ahead and grab a sheet of paper or open up Google docs! You can come back and check out my answers when done.

Helpful tip: if you find yourself feeling stuck, you can think about it like this. The goal here is for you to get clearer on what work is for and what it means. So if you find yourself listing out things that you look for in a job (which is also crucial to understand), see if you can zoom out into the bigger picture on how you view work in general and what work means to you.

Studies have shown that “people who make an explicit connection between their understanding of work in general, and a job or role in particular, are more likely to find satisfaction and meaning in their work” so pat yourself in the back when you complete this exercise:)  

My Workview:

*I’m including the example I wrote in the beginning of 2017 to show you how much impact and change this can make. 

Here it goes!  

I’m working towards cultivating a job where it is a reflection of the lifestyle that I want. By thinking about what work means to me, I can see where there can be adjustments made to align it with more of what I value and care about.

1. Why work?

I work because it’s the societal expectation, I work because I haven’t found nor created an alternative yet. I work because I need something to do with my time. I work because it sustains me. I work because I’d like to get better at something.  

2. What’s work for?

For the longest time, work has been a source of payment, financial stability. After realizing how much I can live on (I don’t get paid much) and reframing thoughts around stability tokens like food and housing, I’d like to live a life where work overlaps with play hence enjoying the work that I’m doing  

3. What does work mean?

Work means an exchange of time and effort for compensation. I’d like work to mean “What projects are you working on?” and “What are you currently excited about?” and “What are you doing to impact the world?”  

4. How does it relate to the individual, others, society?

Individually, I’d like for my work to be meaningful and fulfilling; I want to value what I’m doing with my time. As for others, I’d like for my work to help others. And with society: I’d like it for my work to have a lasting impact  

5. What defines good or worthwhile work?

Worthwhile work is something that I would be doing even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it; it is worthwhile and good if I have intrinsic motivation because I really believe in the mission or it is genuinely fulfilling for me  

6. What does money have to do with it?

Money makes it foggier to navigate: lack of money may make the work feel less meaningful, more money may make the work seem more worthwhile We all have to make money so sometimes that need is prioritized over wants like meaningful work  

7. What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?

These factors mean a lot to me! I really value experiences and personal growth, so it’s important that not only I am learning, but I am learning in areas I care about, thus leading to fulfillment

FROM 2017 TO 2018: 

Fast forward to now, where work is a direct reflection of the lifestyle that I want. I’ve created an alternative for myself: my own business that I can work on anywhere in the world, instead of being stuck at a 9-5 job in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Now I work because I love it and because I would choose to do it every single day. Work is now the answer to “What are you currently excited about?” and “What are you doing to impact the world?”

There is really something powerful about getting clear on your values, and what work can possibly mean. We step into the space we create for ourselves. And when that space is defined, it’s much easier to take a step closer to fulfilling work.

Designing Your Life also talks about the importance of having a coherency between our lives and work. Which resonates with me so much, because as much as we try to separate the two (for example, workdays vs. weekends), our lives and work are inextricably tied. ⅓ of our lives are spent at work, and that is no inconsequential amount.

Congrats on taking the first step towards creating a more meaningful life + work 🙂

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