by E. Elizabeth Carter
Many times we just want to take the most direct route to our destination. We have no desire to veer off the main road and take in new sights. We are so focused on where we are heading, and maybe what time we are to arrive, that we don’t pay any attention to the signs, landscapes, etc. that pass us by. Another way to look at this is that we are not being present.
By not being present with our surroundings which includes the people we interact with we tend to miss out on things. So if that is the case, why do we do it? One reason is that our attention spans are getting shorter. Another reason is that we are only thinking of ourselves in terms of our own wants and needs and do not look outside our “own immediate bubble”. Lastly it is really hard to stay present because we are either thinking about possible regrets of our past or planning out our future. As an example, when you drive to work what are you thinking about? Is it about the hectic schedule you have to juggle that day or are you listening to the radio and just taking life one minute at a time?
This is all very important when we think about our career journey. By not staying present but instead having a strong desire to roam about in our heads we miss out on nuances that are occurring in our workplace. Some of these could be your coworkers’ or your boss’ non-verbal cues which are telling you a different story than what they are trying to convey to you in words. It could also be important directions on a project or a proposal. The reality is that we have so much information thrown at us that we can’t comprehend it all so we may just “check out”.
That is why we all need to take time to reflect. Instead of thinking about our home life when we are driving away from work take that car time to review your day. If you are working from home, find a quiet place or take a walk for 20 minutes. During this time, identify what went well and what could have gone better. Think about all the people you interacted with over the course of the day and determine if you were really engaged or not. In addition, what did you learn that day? By having a life learning mindset you should strive to learn something new every day. This allows us to strengthen our competencies and/or learn new skills.
Wanderlust is fine when there are no expectations of us but if we want to have a more successful career journey, we need to leave those desires that we want to travel around for another day.