Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture can help us succeed both at work and at life. Often we don't take as much time to apply a strategic vision to our lives as much as we do our work.
Often young people don't have the benefit of life experience to realize that aligning work and life goals are important in order to find fulfillment and success in both. As Prof. Clayton Christensen, in his article
How Will You Measure Your Life?
, reminds us, this could benefit us all.
He asks his students to think about 3 questions:
"First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?" (Many of his HBS classmates failed at these, including having spent time in jail).
On the first, he quotes Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that
"the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements."
On the second,
"The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow."
On the third question,
"Allocation choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended. Sometimes that’s good: Opportunities that you never planned for emerge. But if you misinvest your resources, the outcome can be bad."
I was reminded of this post after reading an inspiring article in the NY Times today by Thomas Friedman called
First Tahrir Square, Then the Classroom
. It talked about a nonprofit group in Jordan called
that "helps Jordanian schoolteachers learn how to 'teach creative thinking and problem solving' in their classrooms". They give an example of a 16 year old school girl in a Jordanian village who, after completing a 6-day summer "Brain Camp" realizes that instead of following the path of her peers could become a "change-agent", and she begins by founding a Leadership Club for girls in her village. Her exposure to different perspectives allowed her to develop purpose and apply creative problem skills.