Arnold Siegel’s 8 Ideas for Finding More Meaning in Your Career

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Arnold Siegel’s 8 Ideas for Finding More Meaning in Your Career

How’s your career going?

It’s okay to admit when things aren’t progressing the way you envisioned. And it’s okay to embrace a different definition of success than the more conventional idea you might have had when you started out.

Find Success in Meaning

According to contemporary American thinker and founder of Autonomy and Life Arnold Siegel , the key to career success isn’t always better compensation, a more impressive-sounding job title, or even a higher professional profile.

For many American professionals, it’s something much more substantive and significant, that is, meaning and utility (contribution).

Before founding Autonomy and Life, Siegel spent two decades successfully navigating the business world, becoming at one point the youngest regional managing director at a prominent California accountancy. While his decision to change direction and found Autonomy and Life was a multifaceted one, he “realized that the quality and mood of our living experience is shaped by success with work but not only work.” He now gets to do what he loves every day.

Siegel has developed a philosophy of life for practical living. He directs his students in the following ways.

  1. See Challenges As Opportunities

First, start seeing challenges as opportunities. Realize that the mere opportunity to confront challenges is evidence of your inherent agency — your freedom to act as the captain of your own, self-actualized existence.

“Freedom is the transformative power to determine your own destiny,” says Siegel, “and the power to voice what you stand for.”

Life is full of challenges. But each new challenge is a new opportunity to exercise your freedom and to extend yourself beyond your initial reach.

  1. Live in the Present

While it’s impossible to forget what’s occurred or to set aside anxiety about the future, Siegel advises his students to focus fully, competently and skillfully on the task at hand.

The past is over. Yes, certainly you should set aside a good amount of time and a work-inspiring place to make a philosophical and practical plan for the future that encompasses all of your goals and objectives.

But what you want to do day-to-day is think, work and live in the present. This will enable you to make progress or achieve benchmarks on the projects, responsibilities and commitments detailed in your plan. The greater control you desire will come from the focus.

  1. Resist the Negative Narrative

Avoid allowing negativity to dominate your inner monologue. Siegel refers to this phenomenon as “dwelling in the negative,” and stresses just how toxic it can be for your mental health and professional productivity.

  1. Silence the Doubting Inner Voice

Overcoming internal negativity means silencing the “anxious, illusion-filled voice” that holds you hostage. Remember that only you can hear that voice — and only you can learn to overcome it.

  1. Build Your Capacity for Resilience

“We find an exhausted spirit can be rekindled, brightened and renewed,” Siegel often says. “There is life after everything.”

This is the definition of resilience: remaining unbowed, and then bouncing back, in the face of adversity. Finding meaning in your work very often requires rapid recovery from professional setbacks, whether out of your control or entirely of your own making.

  1. Own Your Decisions

Take ownership of and pride in the decisions you make on the job. Each choice you make is a celebration of your personal autonomy and agency. Not everyone will agree with every choice you make, cautions Siegel, but resolving not to sublimate your personal autonomy to anyone else’s is the first step toward realizing your potential — and embracing the fulfillment that comes with.

  1. Be True to Yourself (And Don’t Be Afraid to Show It)

There’s often disconnect between one’s image and being. For instance, notes Siegel, it’s common for professionals to overestimate their intellect or skills — and then ignore at their own peril clear indications that they’re not all they’ve cracked themselves up to be.

“We feel an affinity for people who reveal themselves to be as claimed,” says Siegel.

Furthermore, he says, “When the image and the being are one, a profound presence of self is revealed”. He encourages students to take up the practice of authentically merging the image they have of themselves with their speaking and conduct. When the image we have of ourselves is matched by our being, the experience is deeply satisfying.

  1. Recognizing your contribution

“We have work to do, commitments to keep, results to produce, conflicts to resolve and, in some jobs, business to generate,” says Siegel. However, he also asserts that “when we bring our best and most decent selves, when we serve others with our work and our care and concern what remains is an enlightening means to compassion, to empathy and, not least, to decency.”

When we shift our attention to recognizing our unique “boots-on-the-ground contribution” we find meaning and efficacy in our endeavors.

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