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When travelling abroad it’s common practice to compare how the local currency stacks up against the one we use at home so we have an idea about what things actually cost and not get ripped off!

The same applies to our work. You may have been hired for a particular skillset, but are you being paid in the currency you expect or want to receive? Our life currencies are unique to us depending on our values, beliefs and needs.

Some currencies used by employers revolve around loyalty, reliability and consistency. If those match what you deliver then everyone’s expectations are on the same page. But what if their currency includes the expectation for you to have to frequently stay late to meet the next deadline, without checking in what’s possible for you? What if you’re not permitted to contribute new ideas as to what could be done differently, or to take up an opportunity to learn new skills? What if the only reward you receive is your paycheck, with no acknowledgment of your additional contribution and a sharp rebuke if, heavens forbid, you make a mistake.

Working with the right currency is important because it provides the motivation to make us want to do the work. If financial success or promotion up the corporate ladder is your primary driver, your currency may be different from someone with the same skill set who wants to make a positive difference and improve themselves in the process. There is no right or wrong here, just a different set of priorities and naturally these will vary at different stages of our lives.

How can you ensure you’re working in the right currency?

Press Pause and Reflect

We often have to make a significant choice about our chosen career at a very early age. Some might say it’s unrealistic to expect someone to know what their real passion or goals are at the age of 17, unless you’re one of the lucky few. What seemed like the perfect choice then, may not match your thoughts or experience a few years down the track.

With the new expectation of having multiple career changes across our working lives, this has helped to reduce the pressure of getting it right first time. Now it’s all about being prepared to adapt and change as needed to changing circumstances, different work tasks and the impact of digitalisation.

Taking time out on a regular basis to reflect provides the thinking space required for you to check-in and ask, are you on track for what you want to achieve, are you working with the right people who will support you and nurture towards your vision of success, and if not what will be your next step?

Tune in to What Gives You Meaning

When we set ourselves goals, we tend to use our logical, analytical, reasoning left hemisphere, which is fine except it misses out on the opportunity to include the emotional input, insight and creative thinking that the right hemisphere provides to complete the picture. Which is why SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and in a Time frame) alone are never enough.

It’s that time spent daydreaming, wandering down a few rabbit holes in our mind that enables our imagination to fire up and create greater possibility thinking.

Look Beyond Your Existing Horizon

Visualising what lies beyond your existing horizon helps to engage all your senses and bring your goal to life. It activates your brain to interpret your vision as being real. This drives your brain’s natural plasticity to create new neural pathways, so you begin to behave in a way consistent with actually having achieved your goal. Which is why visualizing the process of the steps you need to take, along with what it will feel like when you’ve got there works so well.

Bathe in the Reward Provided

When you do something that makes you feel rewarded, your brain’s reward circuitry is triggered leading to an increase in the release of the neurochemical dopamine. It’s the anticipation of reward that your brain finds especially rewarding, so scheduling in something to look forward to is a sure fire way of getting that extra burst of dopamine to motivate you to continue.

Think and Grow Rich

Our riches come in many different forms. Whether it is the richness of experience, enjoying great relationships or achieving success (whatever that might look like to you), it’s about being true to ourselves, our sense of purpose and doing what gives us meaning to our lives.

Are you operating in the right currency?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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