What's keeping you from feeling truly engaged?
OK, I admit that "hate" may be too strong a word, but in a recent Gallup article, I was overwhelmingly shocked to read, "Seventy-one percent of American workers are "not engaged” or "actively disengaged" in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive."
Then in bold letters in the body of the text, I read, "Highly Educated and Middle-Aged Workers Less Likely to Be Engaged." I had to stop and let that sink in. Could it really be true that 71% of all people in all jobs, regardless of the industry, the work, or the pay could really not be engaged by their work? I am now personally working my 30th year in the financial services industry, and I wondered why people would consciously choose to stay in a job where they were not engaged.
In my new book, The 7 Minute Solution, I write about the seven vital signs of finding meaning and purpose in daily life and work. Vital sign number 4 asks, "Are You Engaged?" This is an edited excerpt from the first paragraph of that chapter:
"Engaging in life is about connection. It means that you have chosen to involve yourself in or commit yourself to something or someone. When we are engaged, life moves like the gears of a smoothly operating machine; each connection ignites purposeful action. When we are engaged, we feel connected to the values and people that mean the most to us; we feel alive in our passions and our mission. So much of our lives are spent working. The structure of daily life revolves around the work we do. Are you engaged in your daily tasks? Are you challenged by your goals? Are you connected with the people you work with?"
Take a moment to read the Gallup article and to consider five of the common reasons I believe financial advisors may not be as engaged as they could be. I will also provide some proactive solutions to re-engage on a daily basis.
1. Lost the original challenge. Many of the financial advisors I know are born entrepreneurs. We were born with a unique drive, that special "fire in the belly," or what I often like to call the "'all that' factor." When you first started in this business, you had a very real vision of what you believed you could achieve. You had a very high level of determination. You felt a differentiating sense of passion. And you loved the challenge of working hard.
But now with years or maybe even decades in the same job, you may have simply lost your zeal.
Solution: Recognize that you may have lost the vision of your original challenge and set new challenges. Think about what made you so successful in the first place, then set new goals to do those things.
2. Work/life unbalance. Burnout and physical fatigue are clearly two of the most common reasons that make this job so difficult. The work flow seems almost endless with financial news cable television programs going 24 hours a day, the markets around the world on your smart phone, constant email availability, and on and on.
Solution: If the boundaries between work and life have blurred, then reset the rules. Begin by scheduling to leave the office early one day per week.
3. Disconnect between your strengths and your weaknesses. This seems so simple, but even after 30 years as a financial advisor, I still struggle with occasionally falling into this trap. My personal strengths include meeting new people, working through complex mathematical equations, learning new skill-sets, and serving other people. On the flip side, the part of my work I hate doing most is dealing with the administration and paperwork.
Solution: Know what part of your work is profitable for your practice, focus on what you love, and create a team made up of members who have completely different strengths.
4. Market volatility, uncertainty, and the stress they bring. Market volatility is a reality. Research volatility information for the last 25 years and how it has increased for the last 10 years. Volatility has become a face of investing. The uncertainty can be emotionally crushing, and it obviously affects you psychologically. The unfortunate outcome of increasing volatility is that it can lull you into believing that taking no action will somehow protect you.
Solution: First become aware that we are investing in radically different times. Just because something has worked in the past may or may not mean it will work in the future. Acknowledge what you can and cannot change. Then begin to create your own stress tests and what-if scenarios. Review and update your original objectives for your clients. Help them understand what causes volatility and why volatility can be a powerful tool when used for dollar-cost averaging.
5. Is this all there is? Few people have the discipline, the perseverance, and the continual ability to overcome objection and rejection over and over. To be incredibly successful, you have to have guts, passion, and an inner belief that you will never allow your career to become simply a routine job.
Solution: Have an awareness that the financial advisors who love their job are not necessarily all that different from those who hate it. Some great athletic races are won by 1/1000 of a second. Major golf tournaments are won by a single shot. But as we describe some of the driving forces behind the true superstars in the financial services industry, we find a few areas in which they excel.
True superstars in this industry:
1. Are deeply aware of who they are and why.
2. Have created strong boundaries and definitions of enough.
3. Consider their biggest pay to be found in serving others. Their most meaningful work day in and day out is making the lives of those they serve better.
Next month's article: 10 questions to ask yourself to make your work better. Could it all begin with gratitude?
Time strategy expert and best-selling author, Allyson Lewis has spent the last 29 years developing and teaching concrete, actionable business ideas all over the country. In her latest book, The 7 Minute Solution: Creating a Life with Meaning 7 Minutes at a Time, she shares strategies to help you Prioritize, Organize and Simplify® your life for greater meaning and productivity. Take advantage of the worksheets, webinars, and more – subscribe to the FREE Member Tools area of our website www.The7MinuteLife.com and follow her @allyson7minutes