More Meaningful Work in the New Year


As the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the most meaningful work our company has done over the past 12 months.

Amid our busy careers, it’s important to step back and assess: What meant the most to you?

Rarely do the answers coincide with the biggest paychecks. Rather, they tend to be the projects that tapped into your unique skill set, that challenged or inspired you, that advanced causes you hold near and dear.

As a former athlete, I have always had a soft spot for athletes, so the opportunity to customize an executive training program for student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin ranks high on my list of rewarding achievements this year. Too often, we hear how difficult the transition can be from on-field success to off the field. Our new program gives these hard-working athletes a playbook for winning in the real world.

I’m most excited about its capstone event: a unique recruiting event where we’ll put 50 to 100 student-athletes in front of leading organizations to help ensure career placement. These are the kind of connections we don’t make enough for our students.

We’re already hearing from other colleges who are interested in the program, and I’m imagining a big impact: equipping talented young adults to energize the workforce.

Some of our most meaningful work in executive coaching supports our clients to better navigate transitions – be it from college to career, from one level position to the next or from career to retirement. As we live longer, more retired Iowans are polishing their public image through our training and then launching exciting new endeavors. They are truly inspiring!

Other times meaningful work comes when we help well-established mid-career professionals sharpen their presentation skills. One client this year stood out from the others in his workshop because he was more experienced. But he realized that, in order to seize our training and progress as a professional, he needed to leave his previous practices at the door. His desire to learn a new approach was refreshing!

“I greatly appreciated the unknitting process and look forward to putting the skills taught to good use,” he said. “It was the best training on this subject matter that I have ever received.”

Positive feedback like this can provide valuable insights if we tease them out. In this case, we might ask: How did we encourage that positive attitude so that we can do it again? How did we instill his confidence in trying new approaches? Who else might be in need of some unknitting?

If your job didn’t bring any meaningful work the past year, perhaps it’s time to seek out a new one. But for most Iowa businesspeople, it’s a matter of making small adjustments to our current jobs in order to make them more rewarding.

Take the time to reflect on what work meant the most and how you could do more of it in 2019. What got in the way of rewarding work this year? What were the biggest time wasters? Is there a more creative way to structure your week in order to reduce them? Is there a diplomatic way to eliminate some?

More meaningful work in your current position may look different to each person. Perhaps it means joining a worthy committee – or forming a new one. Maybe it means launching a new initiative. Or maybe you want to allow for more collaboration by seizing little windows of time, such as lunchtime, to catch up with and learn from your colleagues.

Some businesspeople feel most rewarded by longer-term projects that allow them to really dig in. Some thrive off work travel and the chance to make new connections, while others feel more effective staying at the office. A simple but well-phrased comment to the supervisor could bring more of what you’re seeking. “In reflecting on the past year, I particularly appreciated the opportunity to fill-in-the-blank,” you might say. “I felt like I made an impact.”

Ultimately, that’s how we all hope to feel. And if you want to ensure that for 2019, the ball’s in your court.


Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications, based in Coralville. For more information,