Finding what you love, to love what you do!
Would you like to spend your days doing what you love and loving what you do? Seems like a simple question to answer and that most people would make this a huge priority. The truth is somewhat different. Recently Gallup reported that 87% of all employees are not engaged at their job. Inside that 18% of those are actively trying to sabotage the company their work for due to the severity of their dissatisfaction. Corporate America is taking the hit for this and continues to have conversations on how they can improve the situation. They discuss solutions, or band aids, like better environments, better pay, incentives, career pathing, improved communication and so on. All of these are positive moves in my opinion, but you can’t place the entire onus on corporate America. The self awareness needed for solving this dilemma is the moral responsibility of each of us as individuals. I believe there to be one primary issue with these disengaged and miserable individuals. The average American doesn’t know ‘who they are’, ‘what they want’ or ‘how they are built’. Because of this ignorance, and companies’ inability to identify it for them, millions of people take or are stuck in jobs that are not suited for their performance DNA, skills, core human needs or personal desires. A bulk of us take jobs or start careers based off what is available, where the money is perceived to be, where our family told us we should go, what school told us we should do, or what we feel has the easiest path for us. Ultimately, we end up doing something that we don’t like, aren’t good at, and have no desire to grow in. This is what causes the real disengagement. We wake up every day and go to a job we don’t want doing work we could care less about and then rationalize all of it with some type of story that we’ve heard or made up, to tolerate this work of suffering and mediocrity.
We lie to ourselves with statements like:
- I have to work here
- It’s just a stepping stone
- This is what men/women in today’s world have to do to support their family
- It’s all that was available
- I will learn to love it
- At least it pays well or pays the bills
Bullshit! Stop selling yourself a movie script that no one in Hollywood would buy!
The truth is we don’t know ‘who we are’, and because of that, we have no real target for employment, relationships, or our future. It’s like shooting without aiming, or leaving on a road trip with no destination in mind. Think about that, in both examples you will hit something, or end up somewhere, but is it really what’s optimal for you and your desires? Is it the premier experience? We all know the answer! Hell no, it’s not! I call it modern day slavery. Too many people are shackled to a job that brings them little to no satisfaction. The lie is that there aren’t options. There are options and there are ways to discover the life you want, but you have to explore ‘who you are’ to identify what really aligns for you but you have to do the work.
I aim to deliver you a few helpful items in getting this process underway, but my disclaimer here is that I will over simply this. Discovering ‘who you are’ is a lot of work and it’s the most valuable work you will ever do. That being said, what I offer here isn’t an end all, be all for doing this. This article will start with what I consider to be step one in identifying who you are and what you enjoy. It’s time to invest in yourself.
I fall in alignment with a few other self-improvement experts out there who lean on the fact that all humans have 6 core human needs (CHN). We all need to experience each of these 6 things but we all have different preferences in the frequency and volume needed for them. To the extent that our lives align with our core human needs we will experience happiness or frustration. Since most people don’t know what their CHNs are they only fall into experiencing them periodically or out of unawareness. By purposefully examining them, and understanding how they connect to us, we can then purposefully ensure we experience these needs more often than not. We experience the freedom of who we are.
When I first discovered these, I was blown away at how relevant they were to my experience. I could very quickly identify times I was super happy and productive, and times of misery, based on how well these needs matched up for me in those moments of time. I was also able to see how I had set some very unrealistic expectations up with these that positioned me for continuous let downs and frustration. Now I can look at a job, situation or event and ask if it aligns with my needs to determine how engaged I need to be with the opportunity. I have actually been able to turn down opportunities I would have once taken and feel very powerful in doing so. It doesn’t mean I only get to do things that align with me 100%, but it sure assists me in making decisions that allow for maximum experience. It also helps me know what to look for in any given environment or interaction to experience what I need and enjoy. I can create experiences now within almost any setting. That’s positive, right?
The six core human needs (CHN) are as follows:
Let’s take a look at what each of these means.
Need 1: Certainty/Comfort
The first human need is the need for Certainty. It’s our need to feel in control and to know what’s coming next so we can feel secure. It’s the need for basic comfort, the need to avoid pain and stress, and also to create pleasure. Our need for certainty is a survival mechanism. It affects how much risk we’re willing to take in life—in our jobs, in our investments, and in our relationships. The higher the need for certainty, the less risk you’ll be willing to take or emotionally bear. By the way, this is where your real “risk tolerance” comes from.
Need 2: Uncertainty/Variety
Let me ask you a question: Do you like surprises? If you answered “yes,” you’re kidding yourself! You like the surprises you want. The ones you don’t want, you call problems! But you still need them to put some muscle in your life. You can’t grow muscle—or character—unless you have something to push back against. The need for variety is higher for someone who loves change.
Need 3: Significance
We all need to feel important, special, unique, or needed. So how do some of us get significance? You can get it by earning billions of dollars, or collecting academic degrees—distinguishing yourself with a master’s or a PhD. You can build a giant Twitter following. Or you can go on The Bachelor or become the next Real Housewife of Orange County. Some do it by putting tattoos and piercings all over themselves and in places we don’t want to know about. You can get significance by having more or bigger problems than anybody else. “You think your husband’s a dirt bag, take mine for a day!” Of course, you can also get it by being more spiritual (or pretending to be).
Spending a lot of money can make you feel significant, and so can spending very little. We all know people who constantly brag about their bargains, or who feel special because they heat their homes with cow manure and sunlight. Some very wealthy people gain significance by hiding their wealth. Like the late Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and for a time the richest man in America, who drove around Bentonville, Arkansas, in his old pickup, demonstrating he didn’t need a Bentley—but of course, he did have his own private fleet of jets standing by.
Significance is also a money maker—that’s where Steve Wynn has made his fortune. The man who made Las Vegas what it is today knows people will pay for anything they believe is “the best,” anything that makes them feel special, unique or important, anything that makes them stand out from the crowd. He provides the most exclusive, luxurious experiences imaginable in his casinos and hotels—they are truly magnificent and unmatched in the world.
Need 4: Love & Connection
The fourth basic need is Love and Connection. Love is the oxygen of life; it’s what we all want and need most. When we love completely we feel alive, but when we lose love, the pain is so great that most people settle on connection, the crumbs of love. You can get that sense of connection or love through intimacy, or friendship, or prayer, or walking in nature. If nothing else works, you can get a dog. People who are high in this area need a lot of collaboration and true connection in what they do.
These first four needs are what are called the needs of the personality. We all find ways to meet these—whether by working harder, coming up with a big problem, or creating stories to rationalize them. The last two are the needs of the spirit. These are rarer and not everyone meets these. When these needs are met, we truly feel super fulfilled.
Need 5: Growth
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. If a relationship is not growing, if a business is not growing, if you’re not growing, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, how many friends you have, how many people love you—you’re not going to experience real fulfillment. And the reason we grow, I believe, is so we have something of value to give.
Need 6: Contribution
Corny as it may sound, the secret to living is giving. Life’s not about me; it’s about we. Think about it, what’s the first thing you do when you get good or exciting news? You call somebody you love and share it. Sharing enhances everything you experience.
Life is really about creating meaning. And meaning does not come from what you get, it comes from what you give. Ultimately, it’s not what you get that will make you happy long term, but rather who you become and what you contribute will.
Now think about how money can fulfill the six human needs. Can money give us certainty? You bet. Variety? Check. Obviously, it can make us feel important or significant. But what about connection and love? In the immortal words of the Beatles, money can’t buy you love. But it can buy you that dog! And it can, unfortunately, give you a false sense of connection because it attracts relationships, although not always the most fulfilling kind. How about growth? Money can fuel growth in business and in learning. And the more money you have, the more you can contribute financially.
But here’s what I truly believe: if you value Significance above all else, money will always leave you empty unless it comes from a contribution you’ve made. And if you’re looking for significance from money, it’s a high price to pay. You’re looking for big numbers but it’s unlikely you’ll find big fulfillment.
The ultimate significance in life comes not from something external, but from something internal. It comes from a sense of esteem for ourselves, which is not something we can ever get from someone else. People can tell you you’re beautiful, smart, intelligent, the best, or they can tell you that you are the most horrible human being on earth—but what matters is what you think about yourself. Whether or not you believe that deep inside you are continuing to grow and push yourself, to do and give more than was comfortable or you even thought possible. The wealthiest person on earth is one who appreciates.
- Take all the 6 basic human needs and rank them from most important to you to least.
- Take each basic human need and ask yourself the question, “What has to happen for me to experience this feeling?”. You will need to dig deep here because typically your first answer is a surface response. Really ask yourself ‘why?’ a good number of times.
- Start outlining who you are using these needs, rankings and discoveries. You should start to see come clarity here. Look at past experiences, fun and miserable, and see how they match up and why.
- What unrealistic expectations do you have around these CHNs that cause you frustration, anger, fear, inadequacy, etc.
- How can you reframe these to be catapults to success vs anchors to the deep of suffering?
The key here is twofold. One, how do you find a job/career that aligns with what you need to experience? Two, how do you find ways to experience these needs as frequently as possible in your current environment.? Remember clarity creates focus and where you focus goes your energy flows. It’s time to start the adventure of being who you are and doing what you were designed to do.