The Importance of Being Engaged

Just over a month ago I started a new job. It’s exciting, fresh and new. And long overdue…

I’d been with my previous employer for eight years, almost to the day, when I walked out their door for the last time. Over those eight years, I had the opportunity to grow, learn and meet the most amazing people – some who are now my closest friends. While there was an obvious level of investment on my part, it became apparent that it was time for a change when I hadn’t learned anything new in a long time and internal prospects were nil.

As a communicator, it’s especially important to stay engaged to produce quality work and offer fresh ideas. After all, you are the company’s voice. If you’re not interested in what you have to say, then why should anyone else?  I admit it. My enthusiasm had waned.  When you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time it’s easy to switch to autopilot.  Disengagement is common but it’s not healthy for the employee or an organization. Thankfully the solution is simple – change. Change your job. Change your corporate structure. Change your attitude. Shift your paradigm. Change is ALWAYS good – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Getting outside of your comfort zone is the best way to shake things up and wake up.

So how long is too long to stay in one role? I was discussing this very topic with a mentor of mine who is an experienced communicator. She said that five to six years is a healthy length of time for a communicator to stay in a role before it’s time to move on. That got me thinking about my eight years. I’ve always prided myself in having a large comfort zone, but the longer you do the same thing, the smaller that zone becomes until it’s not comforting at all.  But hindsight is 20/20. You can’t change what has happened. You can only take action focus on the road ahead… and my road is full of possibilities.

Do you Live-to-Work or Work-to-Live?

One of the things that I’ve noticed among my fellow communicators is that most of us tend to fall into the live-to-work category. That is, communications is not only a job, but rather a lifestyle. We’re passionate about what we do. It’s shown in the events attend, the organizations we participate in and the people we socialize with.

What does it mean to live-to-work? To me it means how you invest your time and energy is important to you. The eight hours or so a day spent working needs to fulfill whatever it is you are uniquely looking for. I live-to-work. This doesn’t mean that all I do is work and have no life. But communications is part of my lifestyle and it is important to me that I’m making a difference, providing value and at the end of the day, proud of what I do. I’m often described as a passionate person. Whether this is meant as a compliment or as a fault I don’t know, and frankly don’t care. Passion is what drives communicators to do what they do best. Not only do I want the world to hear my message, but I want it to be changed by it.

Work-to-live? No thanks. Spending eight hours a day converting O2 into CO2 waiting for the clock to hit 5:00pm  so you can get to your “real life” sounds pretty soul crushing. That isn’t to say the work-to-live crowd are not good at what they do or are not satisfied. But rather they are doing something that is just okay to get the money to fund their passions.  And that’s okay – for them. But I’ll stick to my guns and follow my bliss.

How about you? Do you live-to-work or work-to-live? What lights your fire?