For much of the last fifteen years, I have seen the work I do in terms of one single continuum – from drained to energized. My goal has been to help people move up the continuum from feeling drained in their work towards being energized by it.
But more and more I have come to see another continuum as an equally important piece of the puzzle – one running from constricted to open.
Here’s how I picture the two of them together:
Want the super-nutshell version of how to use this framework? Here it is:
Make choices and take actions that move you toward feeling more energized and more open. Spend as much time as you can in the upper right of this graph.
Couldn’t be simpler, right? Right. Except it’s not a one-and-done approach. It’s something you do every single day.
(And if that feels overwhelming, consider that you are already making choices and taking actions that are sending you in one direction or the other on each of these continuums – this is just about doing it consciously.)
Life in perpetual motion
Your work life is in perpetual motion along both of these continuums.
Sometimes you feel more energized, sometimes more drained. Sometimes you feel more open, other times more constricted. And it happens on multiple time scales.
At a small time scale, you might feel more energized one moment when working on something particularly fun. Another moment you might feel more drained after a donut-induced sugar crash.
One moment you might feel more open as you brainstorm and explore possibilities for achieving a vision that inspires you. Another moment might find you feeling more constricted when that irritating co-worker gets your goat yet again.
On a broader scale, you can feel more energized when you feel like you are doing work you love. Or more drained when you feel like nothing about the work you do makes any real difference.
Similarly, you might feel more constricted if you habitually stress about things, or focus on what’s wrong. And cultivating practices like meditation and mindfulness can help you live more consistently on the open end of the continuum.
Putting it to work
This framework offers you a simple yet effective way to start exploring and making changes, both long-term and in the here-and-now.
Thinking of your life along these two continuums allows you to do a simple check-in, followed by a look at action you can take. You can ask:
- Where am I on each of those continuums?
- What would allow me to move in the direction of more energized?
- What would help me move towards more open?”
You can do that in the big picture, shaping the trajectory of your career towards work that energizes you and cultivating practices (like meditation or mindfulness) that help you feel less constricted and more open.
You can also do it on a day-by-day, even moment-by-moment basis. Make a habit of checking in with yourself on a daily basis and asking where you are on each of those continuums. Follow that up by asking how you could move more towards energized and/or open.
How it improves your career (and your life)
This simple way of looking at things offers a framework that can change your career and your life for the better in multiple ways. It can:
Improve your quality of life
When you are more energized and more open, life feels better. Simple as that.
Energize your success
When you feel more energized, you have more to put into whatever you do. And when you align what you do with what naturally energizes you, it creates an energy loop where what you do gives you energy that you can in turn put back into what you do.
Create space for your success
The less constricted and more open you are, the more space there is for your success to unfold.
Imagine letting go of a constricting factor like habitual worry. What impact would that have? What might that worry be keeping you from? What new opportunities might you be open to in the space that creates? How might you be able to perform better?
Help you have a greater impact on the world
Moving towards the energized and open ends of the continuums increases your ability to have an impact on the world. This runs the full range from the impact you have moment to moment on the people around you to a greater ability to breathe life into your goals and visions.
If you want to make the most of what life has to offer, tap into what energizes you and give that energy space to flow. You’ll enjoy life more. You’ll achieve more. And you’ll have a greater impact on the world around you.
[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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