Ever looked back fondly at a job and wondered why it was so good?

Summer makes me nostalgic.  Since it’s the mid-point in the year I usually reflect on what has happened this year to date. That inevitably leads to thinking about what happened in the past.

Have you ever looked back fondly at a job and wondered why it was so good?

Me too.

And I have looked back and been reminded of what made other jobs just the opposite.

Figuring out what elements were present when it was good is more fruitful because they can be harder to name.  You expose richer and new information. The negative comes too easily and quickly.

The Good Old Days Of Work

I have been working with Tim, identifying patterns of things he enjoyed in past work, as a part of sorting out what happens next professionally.

Looking back Tim sees 5 themes in the work he loved and excelled in. Autonomy, to work on his own without the need to be famous (though the past write-up in Entrepreneur magazine was nice).  Being able to find outlines to do the unexpected, especially in collaboration.  Stepping up to a challenge, fuels him. He craves variety and to be the person people rely on.

Work You Enjoy Reflects the Best-of-You Traits

And it is remarkable how closely these trends are reflected in Tim’s signature traits.

He’s honest, truthful even when it’s hard, unpretentious, and takes responsibility for his feelings and actions. Perfect for a self-directed person.  Tim’s creative, conceptualizing things in a productive and unexpected ways. Leading to innovative problem solving. And he enjoys experimenting with new things and projects. He’s humble. Tim let’s his accomplishments speak for themselves but he does not shy away from them either.  And he gives credit where it is due.

In the work he enjoyed most, he could consistently use his best-of-self traits (also called signature strengths).

Making Work Better With Signature Strengths

It’s not clear if there is more room for Tim to grow in his current job. So he’s focusing his creativity on how he approaches his work. Not taking on more than what he really needs to, while helping others see where they can shine.

He’s less stressed and more productive at work, while working 40 hours instead of 45 hours a week.

Tim is more clear and specific and truthful about what he wants to create in his next professional move. It’s easier for Tim to expand what he sees as career possibilities.

And he has the mental energy to spend getting clear about what is most important to him in his career without worrying he has to have it all figured out RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

Tim says about the future, “I see how my top traits and the themes in my past work can lead to getting something new, like my own business again, off the ground. When the time comes I’ll be ready to make an informed choice about what direction to take professionally.”

Your ultimate professional opportunity is to cultivate your best-of-self traits so you enjoy who you are and what you do.

And that makes your contributions to your work, your family, and your community wonderful.

And it will you give something wonderful be nostalgic about.

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