Finding Your “Niche”

The US Bureau of Labor claims that people spend 8.8 hours per workday at work or doing work related activity. Nothing wrong with that, but if you don’t enjoy those 8.8 hours than it’s to be a long day indeed.

If you don’t look forward to going to work each day because you haven’t found your niche, well, you’re not alone. For me, it was a journey of understanding and acknowledging my traits, finding the environment I enjoy, and then taking charge!

First things first, get to know yourself. Assuming that you can afford $150, take the MBTI online to find your personality type. Trust me; anything that adds to your self-knowledge is a plus. This will give you a more objective look into what kind of environment allows you to thrive. And that’s important, because it’s not just what type of work, or how much it pays. What matters is, what environment do you thrive in? (Competitive or Collaborative, Inclusive or Secluded?)

You see, it doesn’t matter if you really like making jellybeans, because if the jellybean factory is a hostile environment – then you’re not going to like it! Instead, ask yourself what values are important. Then compare your personal values to the company you want to work for. Moreover, give up forcing yourself to stay in a self-depleting environment just because making jellybeans is what you’ve always dreamed of doing.

Next, evaluate your strengths. This is important, because if you’re using your strengths rather than weaknesses, obviously you’re going to be more confident and successful. Ok, what are your strengths? Some people’s talents and passions are obvious, for others like me it’s a journey of trials. Are you great at leading people, organizing, learning, advising, managing programs, managing people, speaking, or teaching?

A great tool that helped shorten my journey was a book by Tom Rath called “Strengths Finder”, which helped me identify my top strengths and even more than that, it provided tools that allowed me to take action – A great read – Highly recommended.

Using your strengths to achieve success equals more money, but money doesn’t solve everything. Initially, success measured in financial compensation may be the best motivator, but it’s not sustainable. So what is sustainable motivation?

Those familiar with ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ know that underneath it all are: 1. physical needs, 2. security, 3. admiration of loved ones, then 4. admiration of peers, and at the top of Maslow’s pyramid is something called self-actualization. A term that Kurt Goldstein originally used to describe the motive behind realizing one’s full potential.

We are always striving to satisfy a need. Naturally, you’re going to want to identify your needs. So ask yourself – are you looking for results, recognition, or inclusion? Luckily, to find what drives you there are plenty of resources at your fingertips.

1. Firo-B or Element-B, otherwise known as interpersonal relations orientation behavior, tests how much interaction you want from others.

2. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is widely used for views of self, the world, and interpersonal relationships.

3. Finally, the Motivating Potential Score (MPS) is a formula for how likely a particular job impacts satisfaction.

 

After using these tools and getting a clear understanding of your work psyche and identifying underlying motivators, the next step is to communicate these in your job environment. Telling your bosses and even co-workers what motivates you can have a tremendous effect on shaping your work environment.

Beyond that, imagine going one step further by showing management what your test results were. From there you can judge how they react as an indicator for whether it’s an empowering work environment. In addition to asking others to accommodate your favored motivation techniques, take a look at self-motivation techniques. Share these techniques also so that your co-workers can hold you accountable to the goals you set.

Part of your goals are going to be more than just job related however. Your self-actualization can be a part of it. Now how do you do that?

1. By including what drives you,

2. Choosing a purpose that is worthy of your time,

3. And keeping your focus on what matters.

At some point having an empowered life entails asking the fundamental question of… What are my intentions? And believe it or not, that takes courage.

Looking through the ego’s deception and finally admitting what you really want is a tremendous accomplishment on the road to finding your niche. Once this is accomplished, then take the strengths you’ve discovered and explore ways to use them to empower the purpose you’ve chosen.

Here are a couple of suggestions to support your vision. Create a vision board and draw up a statement of intent.

In the meantime check your attitude and ask yourself if you’re thinking positively. Are you bringing a positive energy to the workplace? If there is such a thing as a universal human condition than cynicism is probably it. Without checking negative thoughts they can become an obsession. Instead think of how you impact others and redirect to positive and productive thoughts by writing a gratitude list. Writing such a list will become much easier once you move into your niche.

Making a niche ‘your niche’ is going to require follow up in order to keep it from sliding back into business as usual. What I mean by follow up is keeping personal records of effectiveness, productivity, health, and happiness. Review your performance over time and see if you’re being true to yourself, how you feel when you think about your job, and does this match an environment that you thrive in.

Document the results, celebrate wins, and allow yourself to start fresh if you aren’t meeting your goals. And please let us know of your successes and failures in the comment section below.