The Cohort: This year, try focusing on job fulfillment

The Cohort is Poynter's bi-monthly newsletter about women kicking ass in digital media.

Happy 2017, friends! I gave up on yearlong resolutions a few years back, but I still adore fresh beginnings and all the promise they hold.

Instead of setting specific goals this year, I’m focusing on the kind of work I want to do, the kinds of days I want to have, the kind of purpose I want to feel.

I spent some time earlier this week writing down — in an actual notebook! — the things that make me more fulfilled in my work life. For me, fulfillment at work includes doing something I enjoy (in 2017: writing more often); learning and growing professionally (seeking more speaking opportunities, especially on new topics); and making a difference (expanding training for women in leadership).

We all face day-to-day frustrations at work, which can distract us from the reasons we took our jobs in the first place. I battled those frustrations last year and regularly had to revisit what was meaningful about my job. I found plenty of things, thankfully, but the constant re-evaluation made me feel disoriented.

That’s why I want to keep fulfillment top of mind in 2017. Journalism can be an unforgiving industry. We do our jobs because we’re passionate about the work, because of the potential to make a difference. When we lose sight of that, burnout isn’t far away.

With my fulfillment list in mind, I blocked off recurring times in my calendar to work on each of these areas. Time blocking is the most effective way I’ve found to focus on meaningful work that might otherwise get pushed aside for less important but more urgent tasks like responding to emails.

Of course, priorities and conditions will change throughout the year. Instead of boxing myself into a set routine for all of 2017 (undoubtedly setting myself up for failure), I plan to revisit my fulfillment list and time-blocking techniques each quarter. These three-month check-ins will allow me to make scheduling tweaks or refocus my list and identify roadblocks that are keeping me from feeling fully engaged in my job.

This process works for teams, too. The start of a new year is a perfect time to schedule one-on-ones with direct reports to help craft their fulfillment plans. You could start by asking a series of questions, including “what’s your dream job, and how can I help you get there?” At the following check-in, you can ask for a list of what makes them feel most fulfilled at work, and spend the time discussing how to realistically make time for those areas. Your reports will love you for it, and it will help you prioritize team goals.

Giving fulfillment serious consideration can be a scary prospect — What if I discover that I’m not doing anything meaningful? What if that dream job conversation leads to a discussion about how bad things are at work? — but it’s absolutely worth it. Fulfillment is a powerful antidote to burnout, which may explain why millennials value it most in their jobs. By focusing on your own fulfillment and inviting your team to do the same, you’re setting the stage for a productive and meaningful year. You’ll move from a short-term mentality of getting through each week to a mindset that’s focused on long-term growth.

Go ahead: Block off some time to make this the best year yet.

xoxo
KHG


As part of Poynter’s year-end lessons series, I wrote about discovering the power of vulnerability. Also, for those of you waiting: We’re busy selecting the 2017 class for Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Look for the announcement in two weeks!

Things worth reading
Move over, narcissists. New research suggests that leaders are more powerful when they’re humble. When women run companies, layoffs are less likely to happen. The New York Times published a good collection of articles to help you retune your career, as well as a look at what’s next for feminism. I just started receiving Shine Texts and they’ve been lovely so far (my goal is building confidence).

Women worth knowing
I’m looking forward to meeting and introducing you all to more badass women in 2017! The profiles will resume in the next newsletter. In the meantime, here’s a Twitter list of everyone profiled in The Cohort last year. You can also revisit the interviews: Jasmine C. Lee, Tiffany Campbell, Alex Laughlin and Julia Carpenter, Brionna Jimerson, Hailey Persinger, Danielle Scruggs, Jemma Brown, Caira Conner, Michelle Ferrier, Kristen Hare, Deborah Acosta, Melissa Hall, Christina Bellantoni, Sami Main and Zeina Karam.

If you have a profile suggestion, let me know! You can email me at katie@poynter.org, or share with me and the world using #digitalwomenleaders on Twitter.


Enjoy this newsletter? Tell your friends and coworkers.

The Cohort is part of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Thanks to the lovely Kristen Hare for her newsletter edits and insight.

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    Katie Hawkins-Gaar

    Katie Hawkins-Gaar is Poynter's digital innovation faculty member. She runs the Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media and is one half of the duo behind 40 Better Hours, a project to improve the workweek.

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