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3 Ways to Design Your Work Life to Find More Meaning

Round Editorial

Dave Evans, co-founder of Electronic Arts (EA) and co-author of New York Times bestselling book, Designing Your Life, recently joined Round for a discussion on meaning-making and how to design your way to a happier work life. For many people in tech who may be working on big, impactful problems, the day-to-day doesn’t always feel that way. Evans takes a design-thinking approach to the problem to help tech leaders, and anybody, think about finding meaning through work. Here are three of Evans’ key tips:

1. Find your career “ARC”

This acronym stands for: Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence. Evans believes that we all have a need to feel in control of our life — which is why autonomy is important. Relatedness is key because connecting to people and communities brings fulfillment. Taking stock of our competence helps us tap into a need to develop skills and mastery. So, how do you go about understanding your ARC? Evans recommends this simple daily habit, called “The Good Work Journal.” At the end of each day, you will ask yourself: What did I initiate? This shows where you’re experiencing autonomy. Who did I help? This is a key question about your relatedness and connection to others. What did I learn? This helps you appreciate your competence and skillfulness.

2. Reframe how you think about work

The news shows an unprecedented number of employees quitting their jobs in the last few years. The truth is, statistics on worker disengagement have been dismal for decades and this is not a new pandemic-related phenomenon. The only difference? Workers today have less tolerance for feeling disengaged. While quitting is the solution many have turned to, it’s not the only option. In fact, some cases result in ending up in a new job only to feel just as unhappy as you did in the previous one. Jobs have a hedonic treadmill effect – even when the circumstances change, you reset to wanting more and feel disengaged all over again. You can change how you think about your circumstances at any time, which then leads to changes in the way you think and what you focus on, ultimately creating the feelings you have about your job. Rather than spending the time focused on what is challenging and you may not like, spend time and energy looking for the meaning in the micro-moments – it will affect the reality.

3. Make coherency — not perfection — the goal

As Evans describes it, a coherent life is one lived in such a way that you can clearly connect the dots between three things: who you are; what you believe; and what you are doing. “The research makes clear that if you can connect those three dots, the potential for you to increase meaning skyrockets — and if you can’t, it plummets,” says Evans. Keep in mind, living coherently doesn't mean everything is perfect; it simply means you are living in alignment with your values and that you’re not sacrificing your integrity in order to do what you do. Consider this example: Let’s say that you believe in workplace equality and you work for a company that has no women in leadership roles. If that’s the case. there is going to be a lack of coherency in your life, and this could likely result in feeling discontent. Taking some time to reflect on whether your views clash with your career choices could result in a lot more meaning and satisfaction in the long run.

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