How do you talk to your friends? What issues do you care deeply, passionately about? How do you relate to others so they feel seen, heard and valued?
Maybe you see how you encourage your friends to be body positive, how you advocate for victims of human trafficking and love to text people to tell them happy Monday. Maybe you’re thinking about how you’re a hugger who communicates mostly in memes and who is passionate about environmental causes. Or maybe you see your drive to find equitable public transit solutions, how you like to send cards in the mail and that you do your best build your friends up without judgment, even when you don’t understand how they experience the world.
This is the image of your best day self. And, it’s also the message you present to the world. If you asked your friends to describe you, they would probably share an example or story that illustrated this version of you.
However, when we’re at work, in a job not directly aligned with our passion or cause, in an office that doesn’t enable us to communicate our feelings the way we prefer, or in a culture that doesn’t readily allow us to connect with coworkers the same way we connect with friends, the message of who we are falls flat. We can’t convey what we want to, because we sense a disconnect between our personal and professional lives.
The good news? Our message doesn’t have to change at work. We just need to modify our delivery of it. So maybe you can’t encourage your coworkers to be body positive in the same ways you would encourage your friends. However, who you are and what is important to you can come through in the way you react to comments and discussions in your office Or maybe you can’t hug everybody, but you can create a warm, supportive environment in your office.
A great example of this comes from Bob Goff, a lawyer and author. Bob centers his life around the value “love everybody, always.” He used his legal expertise to form Love Does, an organization focused on freeing and defending children in Uganda from human trafficking. Bob has consistently expanded this mission and works to create equitable, community-based rehabilitation solutions for these children and their families. He makes, “love everybody, always,” the guiding principle of his career.
We all live our mission when we place it at the absolute center of our work. We like our job more when we are able to see the ways that it exists in service of what is most important to us and closest to our hearts.
Figure out your mission. Then, figure out how to express it not only in your personal life, but your professional life as well.
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Carson serves as a consultant to executives at Fortune 500 companies. The author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, and the upcoming Own It. Love It. Make It Work: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job, her views have been included in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review blog, and The New York Times.