Have you ever jumped into a goal or project only to become disengaged with it a few weeks or months later? Started a weight loss or exercise program, or perhaps a debt pay down strategy, and worked hard at it for a solid 30 days or so but forget it all when you went on vacation? Have you ever wondered why that happens? Perhaps you are missing mindful engagement.
I’m fascinated by how we as people succeed in life at some things but not others. Or why some people succeed while others don’t. The possible reasons why may be endless, yet I continue to look for information to help me understand more.
Recently I ran across a research paper on employee engagement that I wrote in 2012 for a college course, and it got me thinking. (For those interested in the subject, my paper “The Disengaged Employee: Interdisciplinary Research on Discovering Their Needs and Coaching Them to Engagement,” can be found here.)
Could information on successfully engaging employees, aimed at business organizations, help us individuals figure out what to do for greater success in our lives outside of work too? If we took on personal goals and tasks with the same engagement requirements could we attain more? How can we learn to equip ourselves for mindful engagement in any task, purpose, or situation?
Employee engagement is defined in various ways, and I cite a few in my research paper. Here are some recent findings via a quick Google search.
“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” – Kevin Kruse
Engage for Success, states “Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give of their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.”
And my favorite, the founders of Culturology, a consulting firm specializing in building healthy, collaborative, engaged work cultures, settled on a definition of engagement they believe captures the essence of the concept concisely: “Engagement: The extent to which a person chooses to apply their talent, energy and care toward any effort.”
Elements of Engagement
The Gallup Organization, through thirty years of research, identified twelve core elements employees desire to link powerfully to the critical outcomes of organizations:
• I know what is expected of me at work
• I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right
• At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
• In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
• My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
• There is someone at work who encourages my development
• At work, my opinions seem to count
• The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important
• My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
• I have a best friend at work
• In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
• This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow
According to Gallup, these 12 statements best predict employee and workgroup performance. Employees need to own their individual engagement, but managers need to help them align and commit to the goals and purposes of the organization.
To achieve a match between an employee’s personal desires and talents, and the employer’s priorities, the manager, must know their people and build relationships with them. Managers need to understand each employee’s uniqueness, communicate effectively with them, and help steer their motivation towards company objectives.
So, what does this mean for us and how do we apply it at home?
In our lives outside of work, we are often thrown into roles that include both leadership and management, as well as employee type responsibilities. If we embrace the ‘rules’ of employee engagement within our own lives, as both the manager and employee, we can better equip ourselves and others for success in the tasks and activities we perform and the goals we set.
A summary of the elements of mindful engagement in our personal lives than might look like this.
Having Purpose. Feeling a part of something useful, valuable, and bigger than ourselves. Knowing that what we do makes a difference for others, our family, our friends, the community, or the world. Awareness of how we fit into all those things and our importance in them.
Understanding Expectations. Knowing what is expected of us and what behaviors are required and valued. When acknowledging expectations, we learn to manage stress and enjoy higher confidence and productivity.
Assembling Resources. Gathering the skills, knowledge, tools, materials and the team we need to do what we or others expect of us.
Aiming for Bullseye. Many of us are naturally competitive (if only with ourselves), so setting goals or challenges for ourselves is important. Satisfaction and enjoyment are derived from even mundane and repetitive tasks when driven by something to shoot for.
Connecting. Our nature as humans is to want a connection with others. Developing relationships to share support and motivation and receive recognition is beneficial.
Providing and Receiving Input. We, as well as others, offer a valuable perspective and we need to share our ideas and allow others to share theirs. Not every idea needs to be accepted or acted on but openly discussing them is powerful for all.
Experiencing Faith. We not only need faith in ourselves, but we need to be around people who believe in us too, with faith that we can achieve our goals.
Acting with Autonomy. Having freedom and personal choices to adjust actions while still reaching or exceeding desired targets or requirements.
Mindful Engagement, Pulling it all Together
Why might we not be achieving our goals then? Because we aren’t ensuring our conscious engagement with them. I’m betting we can all identify with this.
We start a goal, such as increasing our exercise activities, losing 20 pounds, or saving $1000, but we don’t satisfy all the rules of engagement if you will, to assist us in achieving the goal.
I’ve discussed creating goals, making decisions, and what’s required to make significant changes, but I would now like to stress the importance of creating an environment for mindful engagement because all that other stuff becomes nothing if you don’t fully engage.
Have Purpose. They understand why they are doing, what they are doing and they fully embrace it. They act from the inside-out.
Understand Expectations. They know what to expect from themselves and others, as well as knowing what not to expect. They think ahead to anticipate the potentially unexpected and prepare systems to handle things that may arise.
Assemble Resources. They equip themselves with the knowledge and tools needed to achieve the task at hand.
Aim for Bullseye. They keep their eye on the prize and don’t let minor setbacks or detours derail them.
Connect. They surround themselves with others that empower and support them.
Provide and Receive Input. They know that sometimes it takes a village and they aren’t afraid to ask for assistance or support.
Experience Faith. They believe in themselves and remain optimistic. When they get a little down, they know those feelings will pass.
Act with Autonomy. They steer their own ship but appreciate that they may have to adjust their path depending on what comes their way, and they aren’t afraid to do so.
They choose to do these things. All of these things. They embrace them, and they mindfully engage. Leaving anything out can bring on disengagement and eventual failure if they aren’t careful.
Recognizing Mindful Engagement
Mrs. G. commented on my transformation post that she needs to be careful to not trick herself into believing she’s doing or accomplishing something just because she has all the resources lined up. “It’s like buying the cute workout clothing and expensive sneakers, and then not going to the gym.”
This sums up what a lot of us probably do. We gather what we believe is enough to propel our actions. However, I strongly suspect we are leaving something vital out.
Looking back on incomplete goals or mediocre attempts at tasks or activities I can see I wasn’t checking all these boxes. Sometimes due to lack of information or skill. Other times a lack of confidence. And still others for not grasping all the requirements.
For example, I half-assed figuring out the cause of my migraines for years and years. It wasn’t until I fully committed and engaged in a process to diminish them did I achieve success. Losing weight was the same story.
Additionally, I know success in the opening and operation of a restaurant (having not ever worked in one before) happened because I completely engaged myself in the process.
Increasing net worth and getting on a path to financial independence didn’t materialize until I embraced all eight elements either.
I needed to understand the importance of saving and investing, gain the knowledge and tools to do so, absorb what was expected of us to succeed, set a target, connect with a community for support, exchange input with John, have faith we could do it, and manage it myself with occasional guidance and advice from others, adjusting direction as needed. While not at the end of our goal yet, we’ve been on the path for a few years and it is well within sight.
Practice Mindful Engagement
Ensure you meet your goals by mindfully engaging. You can set a target, acquire the resources to hit it, and aim accurately, but if you omit the remaining rules of engagement, you’ll probably miss your mark.
But it’s not all just strict rules. Allow yourself to experiment. Consider that mistakes are opportunities to learn and adjust. Find what works best for you.
Mindful engagement is a choice. Some may even call it a growth mindset. With it, you may accomplish much. Without it, you probably don’t stand a chance. Will you choose to embrace it?
Please share your thoughts in the comments. Do you believe all areas of engagement are required to be successful at a goal? Or have you or someone you know accomplished great things without it?
Struggling to engage in a goal or life change mindfully? I’d love to help. You may reach out to me here.
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