How to feel more valued and fulfilled

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Most people would not suggest investing all your money into one company. Or trying to build a business with only one client. Or betting all your success on one project. Putting all your eggs in basket very rarely workout. But when it comes to feeling valued and fulfilled, we do this all the time. We expect our job and company to help us feel appreciated and like we’re doing a good job. This week we dive into why this is and talk about ways to diversify where you’re getting your value and fulfillment from and why it’s so important. Listen and learn.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman. I worked almost 12 years at Amazon and saw so many brilliant and successful overachievers burn themselves out and leave their jobs because they’re so stressed and anxious. But guess what? Having a successful career does not have to be at the expense of your mental sanity and personal time. There’s an easier way, and I can show you how. Let’s do this! How’s everybody holding up? Not going to lie, it’s been rough, but I’m making it. Okay, the cutest thing happened. I know no one cares about your kids, but I’m going to tell you about my kids for a hot second because it made me laugh. So, my kids know that when my door is closed, I’m either recording a podcast or I’m on a client call. That basically means I’m working and you’ve got to leave me alone. The other day, I was on a coaching call with a client, and I could hear something being slid underneath the door. So, I finish up my call, and anyways, I go over and I look, and my 8-year-old had slid a little message for me under the door, and I was dying. It was the cutest thing. Go find me on Instagram, Lindsay Lyman coaching. I’m going to post a picture of it there, but it was the cutest thing. It was this handwritten note on a Ziploc bag with a Sharpie that says – mind you, the spelling is terrible – but she says, “Can I have a muffin?” And then she put a checkbox “yes” or “no” and another checkbox “no.” And she slipped the Sharpie in the Ziploc bag. I just was like, “Oh, I love you. I love you.” It was so cute and clever, but I was like, “Dear child, if I can get up out of my chair and select ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ I could answer the question for you directly.” But I just love watching her little brain work and get creative. I was like, “Good job, good job, kid.”

 

Before I was at Amazon, I worked for a few different advertising agencies, and every one of those agencies that I worked for, and even some of my clients now that work in ad agencies, still struggle with this. They all struggled, to some extent or another, with having that one big client. And it was great to have this big client, don’t get me wrong. Usually, they had worked with them for many years, they were very successful, they have healthy working relationships. But the challenge for an advertising agency is, if you happen to lose that client because agencies come and go all the time, especially as leaders come and go, new leaders come in and they have their agencies they like, if you lose that big client, you can very easily lose your agency. So, there’s always this push to keep a diverse portfolio so that you’re able to run your agency and make money and be profitable and pay your employees isn’t dependent upon just this one big client. But again, it’s so hard when you get yourself into that situation because it’s actually easier to grow that existing client. You already know the people, you know the process, right? If you’re helping them grow, you’re going to grow naturally as an agency as well. It’s hard to sometimes pull some of your key strategic thinkers off of that big client and have them go and try to drum up new business or to work on other clients. It’s scary, it feels really dangerous, of like, “No, these are our big clients, we’ve got to take care of them.” I’m not saying you should do any of those things, but what I think we all agree on is if you don’t have income coming in from a diverse enough client base and you’re dependent upon that one client, it’s real hard because usually the client knows it as well. I kind of think the same concept goes when you’re investing financially. Side legal, no, I’m not here giving you financial advice whatsoever, but it’s a pretty basic concept that people would agree with. It’s safer to invest in more of a diverse portfolio. If you’re going to take $10,000 and invest it, you’re less likely to lose all of it if you invest it across the board into multiple different spaces. Okay, so again, there’s this concept of diversifying and making sure that you’re investing and growing and nurturing and getting rewards from multiple different places that you’re not dependent upon one particular thing. You could look at we as humans in the workforce, it’s the same concept, right? We want a diverse group of people, backgrounds, interests, experience, knowledge, insights. We want this because it helps prevent us from getting into that place of groupthink where we all think the same and sometimes we miss the obvious thing or we’re not as innovative or we’re not as inclusive and not helping as many people as we could because we all think the same.

 

I’ve seen companies struggle with this as well when it’s a company where it’s a very top-down leadership style and it’s not really encouraged or welcomed to disagree with leaders at the top, right? There’s not a lot of diversity in strategy and ideas and people helping grow the business. So, we think about this concept of growing and building and supporting things from many different sources. I want you to think about this in terms of feeling fulfilled and valued and motivated, okay? Because here’s the thing, it’s not your job’s job to make you feel good. In fact, your job can’t. It can’t actually make you feel anything. How you’re feeling about work, how you’re feeling about your performance, how you’re feeling about the time you’re spending comes from the beliefs you have about it, whether it’s good or bad or should be this way or shouldn’t be this way. And that’s great news because your job exists outside of you and is not in your control and has changed and is going to continue to change. But when you are able to believe many different things about yourself, about your job, that’s one way you can help almost have a diversity of thoughts about your job to make sure you’re able to feel valued and fulfilled and rewarded.

 

It’s pretty natural for us as humans to want other people to validate us, to help us feel fulfilled, to help us believe, “I’m doing a good job. I’m good enough. I’m good at what I’m doing. I’m helpful. This is a good thing.” Especially in a work setting where we have managers and skip levels and executives, there’s like people of authority. We tend to believe those opinions matter more. There’s more truth behind them. If an executive says, “I’m doing a good job,” then I’m going to be able to believe I’m doing a good job because they know, they’re smart, they’re better, they’re more senior, they’re more experienced, right? These are the beliefs and thoughts we have about it. So, it’s very common for us as humans to want to get that value and fulfillment from people at work, from deliverables, from KPIs. But I think it’s also important for you to realize, it really is all made up, right? This is my belief that serves me so well. Everybody’s making it up. Some person with so many years of experience has said, “This is how it should be, this is the right way, this is what’s best, this is the data that backs it up,” and everyone’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah, mhm, we agree, we agree,” which is again totally fine, but I just want you to look at, are you putting all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to feeling valued and fulfilled in what you’re doing?

 

As a human, it’s a sign that you are expecting your value, fulfillment to come from your job if you find yourself working crazy hours, if you’re struggling and tend to play in the perfectionist space, if you’re obsessing over these arbitrary deadlines and projects. I’m not saying we don’t want to have integrity and feel pride in the work we’re doing, but if you’re doing it at the expense of your mental health, of time for yourself, of time outside of work, of taking care of your body, of sleep, of these things that we know you as a human are entitled to, then I think it’s a sign you haven’t diversified where you’re getting value and fulfillment from.

 

The other thing that’s really fascinating to me is, again, naturally we as humans, we want to get that validation externally, we want someone else to tell us we’ve done a good job. I was working with one of my clients and they’re on a performance improvement plan at a company that’s a smaller company, it’s a family-owned company, and they’re kind of growing to the point where they just now have some HR representation. And I won’t go into the details because it’s not my story to share, but there’s just some very drama-inappropriate things happening in the workforce where this person is basically getting whittled out and HR’s here now, they’re following a formal process, but the things that have gone on are pretty ridiculous. And as I was working with this client to try to help them figure out, “Okay, what do they want? What do they want to get out of this?” They were talking about how they’re kind of struggling because they’re really going above and beyond on trying to make sure that they leave things in a good place and putting together this big huge strategy plan for this company that’s like not even part of their job, but they just feel like, “I need to leave this in a good place.” So as I was talking with them, I was like, “Awesome, okay, well tell me a little bit more, why? Why are we doing this?” And they said, “I want to feel valued, I want them to know I’m good at my job, I know what I’m doing.” And when we questioned, “Who’s ‘them’, right? Who is it we’re wanting to validate us?” This client realized it was this terrible leader that they don’t even really respect.

 

I think it’s a core part of us as humans, we will continue to seek validation outside of us, but when we don’t have a diverse place of where we get validation, that’s going to keep us in this cycle of trying to get it even from people we work with that we don’t respect. In this case, it was a sign that this person, they weren’t doing their work to validate themselves. You’ve got to diversify where are you feeling fulfilled? Where are you feeling appreciated? Where are you feeling value? Remember, it ultimately comes from you, from your thoughts. So are you constantly seeking it from leaders? What are you doing to validate yourself, to make sure that you like who you’re being along the way, to be proud of yourself, to be proud of how you showed up, and remind yourself of this daily? Diversify where you’re trying to feel fulfilled and value from.

 

The other thing I want to talk to you about is a part of your brain, the limbic system. This is the part that kind of contains your brain’s reward circuits that, in a very simplified format, they link to our brain structures that control and regulate our ability to feel pleasure. So, the better something feels, the more we want to repeat it. Dr. Kelly Lambert has done a lot of research around the limbic system, and she has identified this circuit she called the “effort-driven reward circuit.” Where, in essence, they have found data that shows the use of our hands, the use of our physical hands, activates this pleasure part of our brain. So, the effort-driven reward cycle isn’t, “I just tried this thing really hard and it worked,” but particularly when it’s something we’re doing with our hands, the pleasure we get from it is significantly higher.

 

Many of my clients that want to feel valued and fulfilled, they work a lot, and some of them are extremely successful on paper and they still don’t feel good. But when I talk to them about what are you doing outside of work? What are your hobbies? They’re like, “Uh, I don’t know, I don’t have time for it.” So, I’d offer to you to think about, as you’re trying to diversify where you’re feeling fulfillment and value and joy from, think of things you could do with your hands to do that. Maybe you’re going to plant and watch your garden grow, comes from baking, from DIY projects, from writing poetry, from doing pottery, from rock climbing, right? Things with our hands, when we actually are building things and creating things and using our physical hands, putting forth that effort and creating and doing something gives us that sense of fulfillment, of value, of joy.

 

For me, some of those things are, I love to play the piano, I love to play the guitar, and the weirdest thing I’m into that I just own because it truly does bring me so much joy is I love to create felt flowers. They’re a little bit tacky, they help me hit my grandma goals I have in life, but I could lock myself in my craft room and spend hours there creating all sorts of different things, and it brings me so much joy. I love it, it feels so good. So, my offer to you is to think of ways you can diversify where you’re getting fulfillment and value and joy and satisfaction from. And here’s kind of some caution of what might come up for you, just like in that example of an advertising agency. It feels scary to go out and stop spending so much time on that quote-unquote “big client,” which is most likely your job, and to go work on something else, because if you get joy and value from a lot of different things and you know how to feel fulfilled in many different areas and you get laid off, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to suck, I’m not going to lie. But you’re going to know how to take care of you and stay calm and go find a new job without being panicked.

 

Think of this in terms of perfectionism. Perfectionism, it’s a false sense of pleasure. It’s not achievable. You’re chasing this joy and fulfillment and value that you never reach. Get the joy and fulfillment you can out of the amazing thing you’ve done and move on. I joke, but I believe it’s so true. I always say, “C’s and B’s get degrees.” Being a perfectionist doesn’t make it feel better, it actually makes it feel worse.

 

As people are talking about what they want out of their careers and jobs, again, a very common theme is they want to own things end to end. As we think about this effort-driven reward cycle, I feel like this may play a part in it because when you own it end to end, you’re a little bit more in the weeds, you’re pushing more of the buttons, and you’re able to see the result of the work you’ve done. Being in a leadership and management space, it’s challenging because you’re not using your hands, you’re not pushing your buttons. I work with a lot of really smart tech employees that are no longer in the code, reviewing things, creating architectures, and they’re managing and leading people and they hate it, right? You’re not getting that same reward because they’re not using their hands. So just think of how do you diversify this? Yes, you could go back to being an individual contributor and push buttons again, awesome, maybe you don’t want to, maybe you like being a leader and you want to push buttons, carve out time to push the buttons, have a pet project for no other reason than it’s fun and it brings you joy because when you allow yourself to have joy and fun and feel fulfilled, guess what? You’re going to be more focused and strategic and a better leader along the way because you’re taking care of you, you already feel good. Diversify where you’re looking for that value and that fulfillment.

 

If you’re trying to feel good about yourself 100% from your kids when they grow up and move out of the house, it’s going to be really hard. If you’re trying to feel good about yourself and what you’re doing 100% in your relationship with your partner when things are hard, you’re really going to struggle. When you’re trying to feel good about yourself and who you are 100% from your job, when it’s a rough year and there’s layoffs, you’re really going to struggle. But again, when you know how to feel joy and fulfillment and value from multiple different avenues of your life, we’re not as desperate and scared when one of those avenues shifts and changes, and we’re able to still take care of ourselves and do what we need to do to create stability in that part that has changed.

 

So, go out there, do some things with your hands, get some hobbies. Yes, I want you to feel good and fulfilled from the work you do all day in your job, but it’s going to come from you getting a good job from a leader as a cherry on top, but I want it to come from you, and I want you to find diverse other ways to feel valued and appreciated and to believe that you’re good enough because you are 100% good enough exactly as you are today. Why? Because you’re a human being, and I personally don’t believe you get to define your value because you are human. You are 100% worthy.

 

All right, y’all, you’re amazing, you got this, we’ll talk soon.

 

Hey, wait, real quick before you go, if you’re struggling with bad managers or leaders, listen up. I recently did a workshop talking about the three steps to deal with a bad manager, and it’s gotten so much response and engagement, I’m having a hard time keeping up on replying to people about it, and I want to make sure you get it as well. It’s totally free, there’s zero obligation. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymancoaching.com/badmanager and access this workshop to know the three steps to take if you are stuck with a bad manager. You got this, we’ll talk soon.

 

If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week, I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated, but I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited, and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymancoaching.com/chat and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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