Personal, professional, meaningful, and long-lasting. Every aspect of our lives offer us ideas about what our impact should be – often they go on to suggest when we should be seeing this impact happen, how we might assess its success, and how we could have just that little bit more. But what does the word and the effort of seeking an impact, actually mean to you?
Well, according to the Oxford dictionary the top two definitions are:
- The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.
- The marked effect or influence that results from an interaction between two things.
Does having an impact mean: how many people were affected by the thing that you did, how deeply they felt this change, how long the positive and/ or negative effects of this impact will last, how much money is now in the bank, or something else? If you feel like you would, or should, be having more of an impact with your work – what does that even mean and how on earth do you measure it?
There are three different types of people at work: those who actively, and often loudly, hate their work; those who tolerate their work, taking their pay-cheque and getting on with it; or those, the rarest of the three, who absolutely love the work they do. What can make the biggest difference between group one and group three is the personal interpretation of impact. If you’ve found yourself here, reading this article, then the likelihood is that you want to be a group-three evangelising work-lover…but are perhaps not quite there, yet.
Impact has become the “workplace appropriate” word that means we can talk about personal feelings of satisfaction, influence, control, and purpose. It adds the human element to our bottom-line and suggests a bigger, higher, more meaningful purpose to us showing up day in and day out. But how can we take control of our own impact in this world, and how can we make it more, well, impactful for our own lives?
No matter our role, the tasks we need to complete, or the team we are in, we are having an impact now. Everything we do or say – and don’t do and don’t say – has an effect on our circumstance or the people around us. What do you think your current impact says about you?
There are ways we can start to take a more intentional approach to this, using our desired outcomes (another word for impact) to inform our attitudes and ways of working.
- Build connections and be a good colleague – as always, it is about who you know and how you feel when they work with you.
- Prepare and be reliable – preparation says that you have given something the time and attention it deserves, reliability builds confidence. Be someone that people want to work on a project with, let them know that you will show up and you will work.
- Become known for being good at what you do – speak up, do the work, deliver results, people will welcome you on board.
- Develop your unique value and always be learning – offer up your skills and knowledge, continually develop these and grow, you have a unique perspective which will add a hell of a lot of value if you let it.
Which one of these steps can you take today? Each of these steps will help you to create more opportunities to have a greater impact on your world and those around you, they will position you to have the widest possible choice about where you get to spend your time and energy, and they will lead to new people, ideas, and potential for how to make each and every workday as impactful as you want to make it.
If you look at your own personal values, success measures, assessments of impact and realised that your current work does not fulfil these satisfactorily. Maybe you’ve now become part of group one, our disgruntled workers? If that’s true, here are some things you can start to do about it:
- Think long-term – view your job, your career, your choices as a journey – not as the goal. What can you achieve on the way and what does this look like today, six months down the line and next year?
- Ask for feedback – get as much data on your current situation as possible. Organise your own 360, ask your team, your manager, your kids, your friends, how do they see you? You may be surprised at what they notice and what they consider important to you.
- Find what’s missing – is there a recurring problem you seem to always be fixing? Do you find yourself always answering the same question? What one change or addition (or subtraction) would make your life just that little bit better?
- Uplift others and share what you know – bring people on your journey with you, be open in your change, and ask for what you want – if you don’t ask, how can they help?
There is no one-size fit all approach. It is now time to do a little personal digging to identify – and dismiss – what task, situation, or outcome you find makes the biggest and most important impact for you.
Have a look at our coaching page to see how we can help you with your career change.