The Link Between Mattering and Value Part 2

Rethinking Personal Value

In my first article on Mattering & Value, I highlighted the relationship between the two and left readers with this question ~ What is my value-add in my various environments and roles?

My blog described how, despite the many facets of an individual, the nature of work – mostly Monday to Friday, and mostly in visible hours – often makes it the one aspect that defines us. How often do we meet people and ask, “So what do you do?”. Work is such a significant and influential part of our lives that we may fall into the trap of becoming defined by our occupation. While this is understandable and relatable, it is also intrinsically incorrect. We are far more than a job title or an employee.

The Power of Balance: Embracing Life’s Six Dimensions

If we refer to Lifehack CEO Leon Ho’s article,  ‘The 6 Aspects of Life You Need to Start Maximising’, the core areas of our lives are:

  1. Physical health
  2. Family & relationships
  3. Wealth & financial wellbeing
  4. Work & career
  5. Spiritual wellness
  6. Mental strength

These six areas are equally important and may vary in attention and demands depending on what stage of life we’re in or what our needs and priorities are, but there are six. And yet, time and again we define our value and meaning from just one area – our work and career.

Lessons from the Pandemic: Shifting Perspectives on Value

If the COVID-9 pandemic taught us anything, it is that jobs and organizations are not immune to the effects of Mother Nature. One of the great learnings of the pandemic, with respect to the obvious impact and devastation of COVID-19, was to hear so many people talking about new-found or rekindled interests, family relationships being rebuilt from all the time spent together, and people prioritizing other areas of their life, including health and spirituality.

With this subtle shift in our perception of work and career, moving away from the pedestal we have traditionally placed it on and embracing a more balanced view that considers the diverse aspects of our lives based on necessity rather than societal expectations, a trend toward recognizing our intrinsic worth and significance, whether consciously pursued or not, has emerged.

Auditing Your (Valuable) Contributions

When I ask people to describe the value-add in their various roles in life (work being one, but not the only one), it creates an opportunity for personal audit and review. Am I spending time and energy on the areas I want or need to, as opposed to just where I feel I must? Is my value being acknowledged and recognized, or am I undervalued? Am I adding value in the right places for me, and how do I get this right?

Most of us must work to live, and not live extravagantly, just live. Times are tough for everyone, and I can reel off the list of factors affecting South Africans day in and day out. But our personal value is not dependent on external factors, and the sooner we acknowledge this and start to focus on our value and build up our own internal validation, the sooner we will be able to stop attaching over-importance to just one aspect of our lives. If I am showing up at work stressed and anxious about work and guilty about not giving my family or personal life any attention, I will not be delivering the value I am capable of. This, in turn, adds more stress, and so the cycle continues.

Prioritizing and Energizing the Right Areas

If I prioritize the areas of my life as needed and give my energy accordingly, I am ensuring that I am consistently adding value and that my value is being recognized and acknowledged. There are two ways to check in on this:

  • Firstly, it is to focus on being present. A sure-fire way to devalue yourself and reduce your value-add is to be distracted and “all over the place”. Being present allows you to give all your attention to the person or action you’re engaged with now and reap the benefit of that focus.
  • Secondly, it is a self-check-in. What is bothering me? Why is it bothering me? This is the ‘stone in the shoe’ parable. If you go on a hike and feel a stone in your shoe in the parking lot, stop and take off your shoe and shake out the stone, put your shoe back on, and set off. If you leave it, telling yourself you’ll be fine, it’s not too bad, it’s just a small stone, this isn’t a long walk, inevitably you will create a much bigger problem when you are furthermost away from your car and your foot is now sporting a huge blister. When you know you are adding value, but it is not being reciprocated or appreciated, discover why before you are too far down the emotional path to be rational about it.

In a world where work often takes centre stage, it is essential to challenge the notion that our value is solely defined by our careers. As we delve into the six core aspects of life – physical health, family and relationships, wealth and financial wellbeing, work and career, spiritual wellness, and mental strength – we open ourselves up to a more holistic understanding of our worth.

Our personal validation and fulfilment should not be contingent upon external factors, but rather on our ability to nurture and embrace all aspects of our lives. Let us transcend the limitations of a single definition and embrace the richness of our multifaceted existence, where our true value shines through in every facet of our being.

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