10 Questions that will make your work better in 2019.
You will likely spend 2,500 hours at work in 2019. That’s just about as many hours as you’ll spend sleeping. Use these questions to evaluate your 2018 and build a happy New Year at work in 2019
- How did I positively impact people this past year? As much as we like to “win” at work, the force that keeps us engaged, motivated, and focused is having a positive impact on people. Jesus gave us the mandate to love our neighbors. Unless you’re a psychopath, you desire to be a force for good in the lives of your coworkers, clients, and vendors.
So how did you do in 2018? What were some of the ways you benefited those around you through the actual work you did and the way you went about your tasks?
What tweak or change can take your people-impact up to a new level in 2019?
- What were your greatest results-oriented achievements? What were the productivity wins, the milestones achieved, the core numbers you put on the board in 2018? What behaviors and investments of time and influence capital led to these successes? (If you don’t know why you win, you won’t be able to guard against losing!).
How do your “wins” match the achievements that you celebrate in your division and your firm as a whole?
How do they match your spiritual and personal values?
- What were your greatest misses and why? As you look back on 18’, where did you fail? Where did you miss the mark? Learning always involves trial and error. The favor and grace of God only come to the humble.
Where did you err in 2018 and what did you learn?
- How do you use your core abilities on a regular basis? This is a talent audit, and it is essential in your annual personal review. We know that when we use our core talents daily we have more energy and we are on a path to excellence. Using our gifts is a critical element of stewardship–its where we remind ourselves that the capacity and opportunity we enjoy are not of our own doing. (See Deuteronomy 8).
What are your greatest hard-wired abilities?
How are they needed and rewarded in what you do?
How will you lean into your talents more intensely in 2019?
- Where are your company and industry headed? Many of us are lacking the “you are here” sticker for our current job and career. We get so caught up in the details of the job that we fail to step back and take a look at the health of our current company and the track of our current industry. Three thousand years ago in the Bible, a group of men was acclaimed for understanding the signs of the times (1 Chronicles 12:32). Do you?
Pick a grid and evaluate the health of your firm. You can use Phil Fischer’s 15-factor list from his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits or Greg Brenneman’s 4-part grid from Right Away and All At Once. Pick one and analyze your firm.
Read ten articles on your industry in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.
Based on what you find, what dangers and opportunities lie ahead?
- How is your work forming you? We spend so much time at work that it shapes our habits and the way we see the world. Some of that is probably good and some of that, not so great.
When it comes to values and priorities, what about the culture at work is making you better? What about the culture at work is at odds with what you profess to be important?
When it comes to habits (patterns of relationship, tasks, rest, sleep, etc.), what about work is making you better? Which habits, if extrapolated ten years into the future, are not sustainable?
How do you evaluate these habits and values in light of God’s call to each of us to continually surrender to the process of being made to be more like Christ?
How do you need to re-form yourself based on what you discovered under this question?
- How does work fit into the rest of your life? How does work affect and sit in balance to the other areas of your life that matter? (Are there other areas?). Would you say you are working too much? Is it possible you’re not working enough, or at least not with the kind of focus that would allow you to invest in other areas outside of work in the future?
How do you answer the balance question?
Where does the concept of Sabbath fit in? (24 hours of nonproductivity, worship, and rest).
What commitments do you need to make, to have the right work fit in 2019?
- What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow? With full employment, an ominous global economic mood, and the threat of constant disruption, the danger of job-loss in 2019 is real. Three questions prepare you for this possibility:
What data do you need to see if job-loss could be a possibility for you?
What’s your financial plan for a hiatus in income (how much do you need, how much do you have, what expenses can be cut?)
What do you need to do, to be ready to search (resume, LinkedIn profile update, a top-10 list of people to contact for information interviews)?
- What behaviors are detracting from your reputation? Thinking about your reputation is thinking about the sentence people will say about you after your current role is done.
Every job is temporary. Someday, you will not work where you work; you will not see the people you currently see. After it is over, your colleagues will give you a sentence. What do you want them to say?
How does this question relate to the visibility of your faith? Would your work neighbors be surprised to know that you are a Christ follower? Why? Why not?
This question can help you dial into whether your current reputational trajectory is the one on which you want to leave. “Caring, competent, responsible?” “Obnoxious, self-absorbed, isolated?” How will you be described? How do you want to be described? What needs to change for you to feel peace and appropriate pride over your tenure at your current firm?
- What are your first 15 plays of 2019? Great football coaches often script the first 15 plays of offense for each contest. They have studied the opposing team. They know their strengths and weaknesses. And so they set the tone for the whole game in their first 15 plays.
What will be your first 15 moves of 2019 at work? As you consider tasks, relationships, skills, roadblocks, and habits—what should be at the top of your priority list to begin a productive New Year?
How will you follow the biblical instructions to “commit your plans to the Lord” and seek a “multitude of counselors where we find wisdom?”
How will having a winning game plan impact the energy and confidence you bring to work with you in the New Year?
Making the Big Better
Work is the biggest “thing” in our schedule. Intentionally evaluating our 2018 with a view towards growth in 2019 will make your work better.
For those of us who are people of faith, we can invite God into this evaluation process through prayer and counsel, asking him to help us to become all that he has made us to be—both in the victories and the failures, both through insights and emotional strength to be more focused and disciplined in 2019 than we were in 2018
Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is the Founder and President of the VOCA Center. Chip is passionate about making work better by empowering clients with a keen sense of vocational identity. In service of this vision, Dr. Roper provides coaching, training, and consulting to individuals and organizations in NYC and beyond. Download information about his work as an executive coach and VOCA’s Calling Discernment Program visit our faith-based website at vocacenter.org and our market-facing menu of services at www.vocacenter.com.