Written by Katie Rosseinsky
This career buzzword is all about pinpointing what makes you tick at work and finding ways to focus on this.
Could this be the year of the optimistic career trend? If last year was all about quiet quitting, doing the bare minimum to fulfil the requirements of your job and falling out of love with outdated metrics of success, it seems that the vibe has well and truly shifted for 2023, with the emergence of a new line-up of workplace terminology to sum up a more positive approach to our 9-to-5s.
First came career committing, which focuses on consolidating your skills and building relationships. And next up is quiet thriving, which is, as you’d probably expect, the antithesis of its more jaded sibling, quiet quitting. Coined by psychotherapist Lesley Alderman in The Washington Post, it’s all about pinpointing exactly what makes you tick at work, and then finding simple ways to reframe your day around these strengths.
“If quiet quitting is doing the bare minimum to get by and mentally checking out, quiet thriving is doing whatever you can to find fulfilment at work and stay motivated,” says Miranda Kyte, career trends expert at Glassdoor, the online platform that provides insights into jobs and companies. The benefits of this, she adds, are twofold. “Having a positive outlook and enjoying what you do at work increases your self-confidence and improves your mental health, while engaging fully in your job helps you to achieve your potential and progress in your career.”
When cynicism about your job has started to set in, it can be hard to see exactly what drew you to the role in the process, let alone work out which parts you enjoy the most (it can feel a bit like getting ’the ick’ in a relationship). To help jog your memory, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on past experiences, says Victoria McLean, CEO and founder of career consultancy City CV. “Think about previous roles or projects where you felt particularly motivated, productive and fulfilled,” she explains. “Ask yourself what it was about those experiences that made you feel that way,” and work out “what do you find most energising and motivating about those tasks or activities?”
When thinking about your strengths, you don’t have to confine yourself to the office, either. “Pay attention to your natural tendencies,” McLean suggests. “Consider the tasks or activities that you tend to gravitate towards and enjoy doing, even outside of work.” If you’re a creative type but find yourself feeling a bit stifled during the working day, have a think about how you can channel those skills – that might be through creative writing, research, generating new ideas, video editing… Or if you’re the organised one in your friendship circle, thriving off Doodle polls, planning events and masterminding trips, then there’s almost certainly a way to play to those strengths too.
Another way to work out which tasks really help you thrive is to look at what colleagues and your manager highlight in performance reviews and feedback as your strengths, says Kyte. “If others see you performing well in these responsibilities it’s worth pursuing as something that engages you. Outside opinion can also help identify strengths you might otherwise overlook.” Because we all know it’s often much easier to focus on your weaknesses than to big yourself up.
The next step is to mention the changes you’d like to make to your manager, which doesn’t have to be scary. As McLean points out: “This is not a complaint; this is about you finding a solution that will make you more productive and efficient – and how can your boss say no to that?” She recommends starting off by “highlighting your strengths and the tasks that you particularly enjoy and excel at. Emphasise how these tasks are aligned with the goals of the team and the business. You’re basically making a sales pitch to your boss, so focus on what’s in for them.” And once you’ve agreed on changes? “Make sure you set everything out in writing so the changes are implemented,” adds McLean
There will, of course, be limits to how much you can change the scope of your role, as Kyte puts it, but quiet thriving is also about finding ways to make these parts of your job less onerous. “Work out ways to do the things you don’t like in a way that works for you,” says Mo Kanjilal, co-creator of diversity and inclusion consultancy Watch This Sp_ace. “I use the method of getting the things I don’t like done first thing, so I can enjoy the rest of the day.” Reframing your thoughts to “focus on the purpose behind the task, rather than just the task itself” can help give your motivation a bit of a boost too, McLean suggests.
Kanjilal also says it’s important not to underestimate your influence in the workplace. “If you hate two-hour meetings on a Monday morning and you say that, chances are, there are a lot of people who will agree with you as they didn’t dare say it. See what you can change. While you work out how to make the things you love doing the main part of your working life.”
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