It's hard to believe but last week we officially crossed into spring! While it's been chilly outside, I can feel warmer days are just around the corner, foreshadowed by the flowers that are starting to pop up around the neighborhood.
Flowers are not only beautiful to look at but can also serve as a metaphor for an amazing career. Each part of the flower serves a critical function and exemplifies a key component of a satisfying work life:
1. BLOSSOM: When we say "flower", we're typically referring to the entire flowering plant, but the flower is really just the pretty blossom up top. They are attractive to animals to aid in the transfer of pollen, and are also often beautiful to the human eye. Like the blossom, you need to be attracted to your career. Ideally, you want work that aligns with your passion(s) and an environment where you feel you can make a difference. And you know how nature values diversity in the ecosystem? Well, that work environment should also reflect the variations of colors and shapes we see in people, too!
2. STEM: The stem, along with the leaves, comprises most of the shoot system; it's what we see growing out of the ground, and it provides critical functions like supporting the plant and transporting water and nutrients. Your job should provide you with a salary and benefits that give you peace of mind, but it should also allow you to have opportunities for growth within your current job, through professional development and varied assignments, and opportunities for promotion.
3. ROOTS: Serving as an anchor to the ground, roots keep the plant upright, absorb water and minerals, and store food for when it's needed. A fulfilling career should allow for work-life integration; this is often discussed in the context of parenthood, but is meaningful for anyone who has family, friends, or hobbies outside of work. In an age when so much of professional business is conducted on a computer or online, the possibility of endless connectivity can be a threat to disconnecting from work and having a personal life. If managed well, however, the virtual nature of work can be leveraged to support greater schedule flexibility, allowing you to stay "rooted" in the other people/activities that are important to you.
While these three components are relevant regardless of your career stage, I feel they are especially relevant to millennials and for how companies need to think about their growing young workforce. For millennials, while salary is important for a generation saddled with a huge student loan burden, studies show that opportunities for growth and learning are just as important (or more) in job satisfaction, as are flexible work arrangements. Perhaps more than anything else, millennials want to feel like they're valued and that they are making a positive contribution to their organization and to the world.
So as spring comes into full bloom, use the flowers as inspiration for pursuing a career that fulfills you from-root-through-shoot-to-bloom. Take a picture, pin it to your vision board or virtual desktop, and grow towards the sunshine!