Change your story, change your life at work

change your story, change your life

The stories you tell create the lens through which you experience your world. Want to change your experience? Change your stories!

Of all the ideas in this series on learning to love your life at work, this is possibly the most powerfully and immediately impactful.

It’s no magical, mystical idea. It’s simply common sense. We all tell stories. It’s how the human mind makes sense of the world. The story you tell is the way you interpret an experience. Two different people can experience the exact same thing and, depending on the story they tell, come away with two completely different impressions of what happened.

Being conscious of your stories and working to shift them in a more positive, enlivening direction is one of the single most powerful habits you can develop.

The value of awareness

You can go at it from multiple angles, with ever-increasing amounts of nuance and awareness. But at its simplest it boils down to three questions.

  • What is the story I’m telling here?
  • How does it make me feel? Does it have an expansive or constricting impact?
  • (If it has a negative impact) Is there a more positive story I could tell?

Next time you find yourself feeling constricted, maybe frustrated, irritated, angry, etc., stop and ask yourself those three questions.

It starts with awareness. So often we react to what we see through the lens of our stories as though it were solid Truth with a capital T. It seems so obviously real that we don’t even question that it might only be a reflection of the story we’re telling.

If we don’t have awareness, we remain at the mercy of whatever constricting story is at the heart of it. Awareness opens the door to the potential for positive change.

Dramatic change (with no change)

I see the effectiveness of exploring different stories all the time in working with my Passion Catalyst clients. A great example of this was Bill. By the time he reached out to me, he was so frustrated with his work that he wanted to quit immediately.

One big source of frustration was the game-playing (or, as he perceived it, manipulation) that was rife in the industry he worked in. It was at odds with his values.

As we explored that, he acknowledged that it wasn’t that the people were bad, or that their intentions were malicious – it was just the way the game was played in that particular industry. And there was pretty much zero chance he was going to change that.

I suggested that he try an experiment. Every time he noticed his button getting pushed by someone interacting that way, instead of building up a head of righteous indignation, why not just laugh internally and say, “There they go, playing that game again.”

He was skeptical, but agreed to give it a try. A week later he came back and said, “Curt, I have just had the most positive week at work I have had in months!”

He kept working with that, and it created a complete shift in what had been a major source of the steam coming out his ears by the end of the day. His experience changed dramatically, even though nothing externally had actually changed.

3 kinds of stories

As I described in my post about how to do an internal energy audit, there are three broad areas you’ll find your stories. From that post:

Stories about yourself: These might include, for example, self-criticism vs self-appreciation (e.g., “hey, I really did that well,” or, “it wasn’t perfect, but I did the best I could.”) or self-doubt versus self-belief.

Stories about others: Do you see others as basically good or basically flawed? Do you see the best in others or the worst? Are you hyper-critical of others or supportive and understanding? Is your basic default trust or distrust?

Stories about circumstances: Do you feel like a victim of circumstances or do you habitually look for ways you can improve things? Do you see the world as a fearful place or a hopeful place?

Find your limiting stories

As I mentioned earlier, awareness is key. But sometimes that can feel easier said than done. One easy way to start building awareness is to start noticing the things where you feel a constriction and contraction.

Some examples include:

  • Irritation
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Judgment (both of others and yourself)
  • Resistance of what is
  • Stress

Any time you notice any of those, you can step back and say, “OK, what’s my story about this? What is it that is causing me to feel this?”

Another way to approach it is to ask, “How should things be?” Your irritation, frustration, etc. typically stem from feeling that things should be one way and having them be another. It’s a good bet that how things should be – as you see it – is part or all of your story.

(On a side note, Byron Katie’s process, called The Work, is an excellent tool for finding a greater sense of peace with what is.)

Yet another way to notice your limiting stories is to watch for all or nothing words. For example, phrases like:

  • They always
  • He never
  • I can’t

Frequently the black-and-white stories we tell are only a caricature of reality. If we look at them more objectively, we often see that we’re looking through a lens that encourages us to confirm that point of view.

For example, “He always rambles on in meetings” completely ignores those occasions when the person in question either didn’t ramble on or played a constructive role in the conversation.

The more aware you can be of your limiting stories, the better equipped you are to explore the opportunities to sculpt them in a more affirming direction.

I’m not suggesting that you just sit there and blow sunsine up your wazoo 24/7. Sometimes there really are negative things that need to be addressed. But if you’re like most of us, you inflict a lot of unnecessary suffering on yourself simply through stories that could easily be changed.

Find your enhancing stories

While you’re at it, it’s worth looking at your enhancing stories as well. Again, it’s about awareness. The more aware you are of the positive stories you tell (stories about yourself and your abilities, stories about where others are coming from, your optimistic view of what’s possible, etc.), the more potential you have to cultivate and grow them.

Do your own experiment

I’m a big fan of the “don’t just believe me, test it for yourself” school of thinking. With that in mind, I encourage you to try an experiment.

Find a limiting story that you tell frequently. Spend a little time looking for other stories you could tell about that situation/experience that would leave you feeling lighter. Then, for the next week, play with catching the story in action and swapping it out with the new one.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. For example, I had one client who couldn’t stand the drama and conflict he saw all too often in meetings. The drama typically didn’t involve him, but his story – unbeknownst to him – was that if drama was happening, it was real, and it affected him.

When he realized this, he started telling a new story. “This isn’t my drama.” He was able to take a step back and watch the drama, rather than get pulled in.

He even took it a step farther by starting to ponder what the story behind the drama might be for the person or people in question. “Why are they responding like that? Where are they coming from? What are they trying to get accomplished? What are they afraid of?” It added a whole new dimension of “human interest” to the meetings.

If you see any difference at all, expand the experiment. Continue focusing on the same story for the next month and see what happens. Or expand it to include other stories.

Story by story, you can change your world.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

How to do an internal energy audit

How to do an internal energy audit

In this series on learning to love your life at work, part of what I am exploring is how to improve your experience of life at work, regardless of whether or not you can change anything about the work itself.

A great place to start is by doing an “internal energy audit.”

One of the tools I encourage people to use in their efforts to improve the here and now is an energy audit aimed at the work itself. They look at what energizes them and what drains them, and then explore ways to bring more of the energy-inducing aspects into the picture and reduce the drains.

That same idea is relevant for your internal landscape.

It’s essentially the same idea. You’re asking:

  • How do I contribute to feeling more energized?
  • How do I contribute to feeling less energized?

Another way of thinking about it (one I’m using more and more in my own life) is:

  • How do I open to the flow of energy?
  • How do I constrict the flow of energy?

One way or another, we all do each of those in umpteen different ways. For example:

Opening to the flow

  • Focusing on what’s positive
  • Gratitude
  • Expressing the positive (e.g., sharing your observations on what’s good with someone)
  • Grounding practices like meditation and breathing practices
  • Staying in the present moment instead of lost in negative stories
  • Questioning your limiting stories, assumptions, and beliefs
  • Consciously exposing yourself to what’s positive and uplifting

Constricting the flow

  • A habitual focus on the negative
  • Pessimism
  • A tendency to be critical, whether of yourself or others
  • Mistaking your negative thoughts for reality
  • A tendency to ruminate and worry
  • Getting lost in your negative stories
  • Constantly exposing yourself to what’s negative and constricting (e.g., the news)
  • Never letting yourself slow down and relax

Internal Energy Audit Framework

Here’s a framework to get you started.

1. What stories are you telling?

You don’t see the world as it is. You see it through the lens of the stories you tell. We all do. Sometimes those stories are positive, and sometimes they’re negative. Sometimes they’re empowering, and sometimes they’re disempowering. What kind of pictures are your stories painting?

You can explore three broad kinds of stories:

Stories about yourself: These might include, for example, self-criticism vs self-appreciation (e.g., “hey, I really did that well,” or, “it wasn’t perfect, but I did the best I could.”) or self-doubt versus self-belief.

Stories about others: Do you see others as basically good or basically flawed? Do you see the best in others or the worst? Are you hyper-critical of others or supportive and understanding? Is your basic default trust or distrust?

Stories about circumstances: Do you feel like a victim of circumstances or do you habitually look for ways you can improve things? Do you see the world as a fearful place or a hopeful place?

The either/or questions there are only a handful of examples to give you an idea of what kinds of stories you might find, not an exhaustive list.

2. What do you focus on?

Do you focus on the positive or the negative? Do you focus on what you’re grateful for or what you dislike? Do you focus on what you enjoy, or what grates on you?

3. Do you have room in your mind for quiet or are you lost in the noise?

A great way to tilt toward constriction is to never give your mind any time and space for quiet. Do you give yourself time to pause and be still, or are you constantly doing, doing, doing? Do you allow your mind some silent space, or do you habitually fill that space with something? (Try just being alone in silence for a while and see what happens. If you find yourself starting to crawl out of your skin, it’s a good bet you’re not giving your mind the space it needs.)

4. What input are you feeding your mind?

What do you habitually feed your mind? Do you seek out positive and uplifting input, like books to help you learn and grow or inspiring stories, or do you fill it with news about how the world is going to hell and images of violence and despair? Do you spend your time having positive conversations with people, or are you a long-standing member of the Bitch-n-Moan Club?

Do an ongoing energy audit

Taking a first look at the areas outlined above is a great way to start shining a light at what is going on in your internal landscape, but it’s not a one-and-done effort.

Try making it a habit to do an ongoing energy audit. Maybe it’s as simple as spending five minutes on your commute home reviewing the day and checking in with how things looked internally in each of those areas.

The more you can recognize what’s happening on an ongoing basis, the more you have the potential to work with those internal aspects to shift them ever-more in a positive direction.

And the more positive your internal landscape, the more positive your experience will inevitably be of what’s going on in 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

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Learn to love your life (at work)

All too often, people take an either/or approach to loving their work. Either they’re in a job they love, or they have to just suck it up and accept that work is a four-letter word.

The reality is that there is an amazing amount that can be done to make positive change in our experience of our jobs, even without something big and dramatic like a career change.

When my Passion Catalyst clients come to me for help figuring out a new career that lights them up, they’re often in a high state of frustration. In order to create more mental and emotional space to move forward, frequently we end up spending time exploring the question, “How do I make the here-and-now better?”

In this series, I want to share some of what I have learned over the last 14 years so you can apply it to your own career. Whether you love your work or loathe it, you’ll benefit from these ideas.

This is the main page for this series. As I write new posts looking more deeply at each of the ideas below, I will add links here.

Learn to love your life (at work)

As I have looked at taking a more defined approach to here-and-now improvement efforts, I started distinguishing between loving your work and loving your life at work.

If you’re in a crap job, there may be precious little you can do to improve the job itself (though there might be more than you realize). But there is a lot you can do to change your experience of your time there.

An added bonus of the ideas I’ll be outlining is that they’re all equally applicable in the rest of your life. So really it’s not just about learning to love your life at work. It’s about using work as a learning lab for how to have a better experience of life in general. Not bad, eh?

External change

The most obvious opportunities for improving the here-and-now involve making external changes. Broadly put, it involves:

  • Adding more of what energizes you.
  • Reducing what drains your energy.

This is a simple process of working with what I call the Gain-to-Drain Ratio In a nutshell, the more you have in your day of what energizes you (the gain), and the less you have of what drains you, the more energized you will feel. Simple, common-sense, and powerfully effective

[See Energize your career with the Gain-to-Drain Ratio for a basic how-to on this idea.]

[Check out a deep-dive look at this in my series How to feel more juice in your job.]

People are often surprised at how much ability they have to sculpt things for the better, just by consciously working with their gains and drains.

Internal change

Improving your here-and-now isn’t just about making external changes. You have an immense potential to make positive change at the internal level as well.

This section isn’t about changing your work. It’s about changing your relationship with your experience at work. And often, this is where the biggest potential for change is. Why? Because it’s the one thing you have control over!

Here are some ways you can sculpt that internal experience.

Do an internal energy audit

Just like you can do an energy audit of your external situation to identify the energy gains and drains, you can explore how you contribute to gains and drains internally.

A tendency to look for the learning and growth in any situation, even the negative ones? There’s a gain. A tendency to dwell on the negative? Definite drain. An inclination to focus on gratitude? Gain. A habit of seeking out people to bitch to who will confirm your negative perspective? Yep, that’s a drain.

[Get started with how to do an internal energy audit]

Check and change your stories

The stories we tell create the lens through which we see the world. The same event could have two completely interpretations (and consequently be experienced in two completely different ways), depending on the story we tell about it.

As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are.”

When you check your story about anything, you’re opening the door to awareness, and awareness opens the door to change. When you change your story, you change your experience.

[Change your story, change your life at work]

Practice mindfulness

Staying anchored in the present moment, paying nonjudgmental attention to what is happening without spinning off into stories about the past or worries about the future can have a dramatic impact on how you experience your time at work.

[See how mindfulness improves your life at work.]

[What is mindfulness?]

Direct your focus

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the more you focus on what’s good in any given situation, the better your experience is going to be. And the more you focus on what’s bad, the worse it will be.

Directing your focus is about consciously looking for the positive and focusing your attention there.

[Check out how directing your focus creates a more positive work experience.]

Develop a gratitude habit

Research has shown that gratitude has a multi-faceted positive impact, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And the better you feel on all those fronts, the better your experience at work is going to be.

[Here are 14 ways to change your life with a gratitude practice.]

Develop a grounding practice

Imagine how you feel when you’re spooled up and tense, or when you’re operating at mach speed with energy flying off in all directions. Both of those scenarios leave you feeling drained and depleted.

Developing a grounding practice (e.g., meditation, breathing practices, etc.) can help you minimize the time you spend in those kinds of states, not to mention help you stay focused.

[Find out why your career needs you to meditate.]

Feed your brain the good stuff

Part of what creates the lens you look through as you experience work (and the rest of your life) is what you feed your brain.

Feeding your mind positive, uplifting brainfood (e.g., listening to an inspiring audiobook on your commute or having a conversation with someone positive) contributes to a more positive, uplifting view overall.

Feeding it negative, toxic brainfood (e.g., listening to news about still more tragedy and turmoil, or having yet another habitual bitch session with a negative colleague) creates a perspective where you’ll see and experience more of that.

Build a foundation

This last one doesn’t actually have anything to do with work, but it has everything to do with your potential to experience your day positively. Building a solid foundation with your diet, exercise, staying hydrated, etc. can have a dramatic impact on how you feel, and consequently your potential for experiencing your day at work positively.

So there you have it. An external and internal approach to making the here-and-now of your work more energizing and alive-ifying. Stay tuned for more posts!

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to improve your career by maximizing your Personal ROI

heart center

Want to create a career that leaves you feeling energized and alive? Awareness is vital! Without a detailed understanding of what feels energizing, meaningful, and engaging, your only option is to make your best guess, dive in, and hope for the best.

When you have a greater understanding of where the juice comes from for you, you have an infinitely better ability to consciously make choices – both big and small – that steer your career in that direction.

One of the exercises I suggest in my ebook, The Occupational Adventure Guide, invites you to explore your “Personal ROI.”

Your Personal ROI is the return on investment you get on the time and effort you put into your work. It takes the common remuneration, like money, benefits, etc., out of the picture and asks, “if it weren’t about the money, what would it be about?”

Imagine you’re suddenly plopped down in a parallel universe, one where money isn’t used as an incentive. Instead, your pay comes from the feeling you get from the work you are doing. The most “highly paid” people in the work force are the people who have found a career that is deeply aligned with what is meaningful and fun for them.

As you picture that, ask yourself, “What would I do to maximize my pay? What would maximize the Personal ROI for my investment of time and effort?”

Explore that more deeply with questions like:

  • What kinds of things would you be doing? Why? (As in, what is it about doing that that would give you a high Personal ROI?)
  • What kind of difference would you be making? What is important/inspiring/compelling about that?
  • What kind of people would you be working with?
  • What feelings would I get paid in? What gives me those feelings?
  • What feels meaningful?
  • What do I care about?
  • When do I lose myself?
  • When am I at my best? Why am I at my best then?

The thing I love about this idea is that it removes the piece of the puzzle that tends to muddy things up for people – how much money can I make? – and focuses your attention on, “How can I feel the way I want to feel?”

Once you have a better understanding of that, you can apply that insight to building a career that lets you both thrive and feel alive.

Ask, “How can I experience more of that? Where are the opportunities to build more of that into what I do now? Where are the opportunities to move toward more of that in my career path?”

And then create that, step-by-step, choice-by-choice.

How about you? How would you maximize your Personal ROI?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

The blessing of a jackhammer (and what that has to do with creating work you love)

road construction

There’s a big road construction project going on across the street from me. The last couple days have been filled with wave after wave of jackhammering.

There’s not much to do but tune it out, but every time it stops for an extended period of time I’m struck by how peaceful it feels. The silence is almost palpable.

Every time I experience that silence, I realize how much tension the jackhammer has been causing – both in my mind and my body. The silence feels like a little trip to the spa where that tension just drips away.

Sure, the incessant rattle of metal on concrete has been irritating, but it has also been a blessing.

Huh? How could a jackhammer be a blessing? Let me explain.

Quieting the jackhammer of the mind

Grating as it has been, the noise of the jackhammer has helped me experience the peace of the silence in a way I seldom do when the noise level outside is just at your standard urban hum.

Every time I feel that silence, I think, “Ohhhhh, that’s what’s there when the noise stops!”

That jackhammer and the silence in its absence is a perfect metaphor for what happens in our minds, and the peace and spaciousness that comes if we can quiet that mental jackhammer even just a little bit.

The jackhammer and the profound peace of its absence has been giving me a frame of reference – an experiential analogy, if you will – for what happens at an internal level, both with the noise we create in our minds and the potential for peace when we find ways to turn down the volume.

Recognizing the unacknowledged tension

One of the most striking things about the peace following the noise has been a realization of just how much tension I was holding in response to the jackhammer, even though I thought I was tuning it out.

It’s the same in our minds. Our thoughts create a tension in our minds we often don’t even realize is there. Maybe it’s the shrill underlying hum of a worry about the future, or rumination about what he did, or what she said, or how you screwed up.

Maybe it’s an ongoing battle with what is and an insistence that things should be different. Perhaps it’s just an addiction to going at mach speed without the ability to really relax.

Whatever it is, it frequently creates an underlying tension there that can suck your energy dry.

What jackhammering (and quiet) has to do with loving your work

The goal of getting Wild About Work isn’t just finding work you love. It’s also developing your capacity to fully experience the juice your work offers.

The tension and energy drain created by the jackhammer of our minds has a constricting effect. It makes us smaller and less open. It takes us out of flow, rather than helping us step into it.

The benefit of toning down that internal jackhammer is twofold. First, you reduce the energy drain it causes. And second, the more you can do to quiet that internal jackhammer, the more internal space you have to experience the good stuff.

How to turn down your mental jackhammer

In the Wild About Work model, one of the basic foundational pieces is some kind of grounding practice (or even better, several grounding practices).

There are a bazillion different ways to turn down the volume on that internal jackhammer. I’ll dive more deeply into a few of them in future posts, but for now here’s a handful:

Mindfulness: This is simply pulling yourself back from whatever wild gyrations your mind is doing in the past and/or future and experiencing what is happening right here, right now, without overlaying a story.

Meditation: A regular meditation practice – even just a few minutes per day – can have a profound effect on the noise in your mind. You can use it both as a regular practice and as a way to ground throughout your day.

Breathing: Your breath is a great tool for getting out of your mental noise and into the present moment. Try simply focusing on your breath for sixty seconds at various intervals throughout the day.

With any of these, try to take an approach of softening, rather than effort to make something happen. An effort to relax only contributes more tension to the mix.

Try this: Here’s an experiment for the next week, if you’re up for it. Every once in a while throughout your day, stop and notice. Are you grounded and present? Are you spooled up and tense? Just notice. No judgment.

Then  take ten breaths. Focus your attention on how the breath feels. Connect with how your body moves as you breath in and out. If your mind starts to wander as you do that (it probably will), just come on back to focusing on the breath.

That’s it. Notice, then breathe. Notice, then breathe.

Simple, right?

Let me know how it goes!

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Change your life (seriously!) with a Positive Journal

In 2008, my business was in freefall, and I was broke, broke, broke (not to mention stressed, stressed, stressed). The financial crisis had hit me hard – not many people were thinking about creating careers that lit them up when they were worried about survival.

I was complaining to a friend about my situation and she said something that stopped me in my tracks. “Curt, where is the abundance in your life?”

I realized that I actually had great gobs of abundance in my life – just not the financial version. And yet it was my stress about the financial variety that was taking up my entire field of view. I realized I needed to do something to focus more of my awareness on what was positive in my life.

positive journalI decided to keep a “positive journal.” In the video above, I talk about the experience and the incredibly positive impact it had.

Knowing that any attempt at regular journaling I had made in the past had a limited life span, I decided to create a framework by making it a 30-Day Experiment. I love 30-Day Experiments. They’re long enough to start seeing results, but not so long that night on impossible to stick with it.

My only rule for the journal was that anything I wrote in it had to have a positive focus. Here are the four main areas I explored:

Gratitude: I made it a regular habit to do a deep dive into gratitude. The more I did it, the more I saw reasons to feel grateful, both big and small.

Abundance: First I made a laundry list of all the kinds of abundance I experienced in my life (love, freedom and flexibility, ideas, beauty, health, fun, etc.). Then I started picking them one at a time and asking, “Why is that important? What is the positive impact of that in my life?”

Shifting out of the negative: When I found myself stuck in a negative rumination, or a habitual negative perception, I would sometimes explore how to shift that? How could I look at things from a more positive angle? What are the positive possibilities?

Positive question prompts: I started using open-ended prompts to help me spotlight the positive. For example, “Life is good because _____,” and, “I feel confident and capable when _____.”

So what about the title to this post? Isn’t that just a tad hyperbolic? Well no, in my experience, that was exactly what keeping a Positive Journal did. More accurately, it changed my experience of my life. If you think of your awareness as a pie chart, my daily focus on the positive increased the percentage of that pie that was taken up with seeing the positive.

I went into it with a fairly open mind. I didn’t really know what effect the experiment would have on me. Turns out it was huge. It was actually a key part of being able to emotionally navigate a really challenging time.

Here are some of the outcomes I experienced:

Noticing the positive: What’s good start entering my awareness more naturally. It was already there, but this expanded my awareness of it.The more I paid attention to the positive, the more positive I noticed.

Looking for the positive: Not only did I passively start to notice the good stuff in my life, I also found myself actively scanning to find more. It wasn’t something I put effort into; it just started happening on its own.

Short-circuiting the negative: I started noticing the negative, limiting stories my mind created and automatically looking for alternative, life-enhancing stories.

I highly, highly recommend trying this. Make it a 30-Day Experiment and see what happens. Try to find a regular time each day and dive on in.

If you do it, I would love to know how it goes! Please share your experience in the comments below.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

5 types of support you need to get Wild About Work

If you want to create work you love, do not, do not, do not fall prey to the notion that you can do it all yourself! That’s a great way to both fail and have a really sucky, insecure, fear-filled time in the process.

When I first started my Passion Catalyst coaching work back in 2001, I was making a change from a past life as a marketing guy. While I was a natural coach (I literally put a framework around what I did naturally), I wasn’t a career expert.

To start developing a knowledge base, I interviewed dozens of people who had successfully pursued their passions in their careers to learn from their success.

It was a fascinating project. One of the biggest themes I saw was this: “I couldn’t have done it alone.” Almost every single person I talked to echoed some variation of that theme.

Today’s video reflects that basic truth that getting Wild About Work is NOT a solo sport.

In the video, I dive (with my customary perfect imperfection) into five key areas to seek out support:

Emotional support: Guess what? You’re human! This ride is going to be a lot less bumpy and a lot more effective if you consciously seek out emotional support along the way.

Professional support: Seeking out mentors can play a huge role in creating a career you love. There is no shortage of people who have been there, done that – why not tap into their insights?

Clarity support: Whether it is a coach like me or a friend who has a gift for helping you sort through things, having someone in your life to help you get clarity can help you minimize the time you spend spinning your wheels, help you stop getting in your own way, and find focus so you can take action and get traction.

Inspiration support: Surrounding yourself by people who inspire and energize you can be .a source of fuel you can put into your success.

Role model support: This is related to the previous one. You become the people you spend most of your time with – make who you become a conscious decision by spending time with people who embody the qualities you want to develop.

As you can see, this video was another step in my path of perfect imperfection (taking action and doing something, rather than dithering with perfectionizing and doing nothing). The white noise of the waterfall is stronger than I would like. Time to get a remote mic, I think.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Career Passion 101

A big part of getting Wild About Work is doing work that energizes you. In this video, I share a nuts-and-bolts, common sense approach to finding passion in your work.

Based on the approach I developed in my Passion Catalyst coaching to help my clients create careers that energize and inspire them, in this video, I take a look at:

  • My definition of passion
  • Why passion isn’t about what you love
  • How to identify your passion’s basic building blocks that you can use to both improve your current work and plan for passion in your career’s future

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

19 questions to find more meaning in your work

find meaning at work

In this series on making work meaningful, I have explored many facets of how to create a greater sense of meaning in your work. I wrote a lot of words in the process, but in a way it all boils down to three simple words you can use as your guide:

Find the meaning.

Yep. That’s it. Any given workday is packed with opportunities to find the meaning. Sometimes it will be glaringly obvious, like the positive impact your work is having. Other times you’ll need to do a little excavating, finding the diamonds in the midst of the muck.

Meaning excavation questions

The mighty question mark is an excellent excavation tool. Below, you’ll find a number of questions you can ask on a regular basis to help you uncover those gems. You might pick a few and make that the foundation for a daily quick-scan. Or you might choose one a week and focus on noticing as much as you can every day.

For those who are feeling particularly cynical, it can be tempting to meet some questions, like “why does this matter,” with a roll of eyes and say, “it doesn’t.” For the sake of finding the meaning, I encourage you to notice any response like that, let it go, and focus on finding the positive.

And now, on to the excavation! You can ask any of these questions before your day starts to help set the stage for noticing, during the day, or at the end of the day as a way to look back and review.

What feels meaningful about this?

Why does this matter?

What difference does what I’m doing make?

What am I learning here? What could I learn here?

How is this work giving me an opportunity to grow?

How is this problem/difficulty giving me an opportunity to grow?

How can I approach my work with mastery and excellence in mind?

How can I come from a space of love today?

How can I bring my heart to work today?

Where are the opportunities to serve?

How can what I’m experiencing lead me towards my long-term vision?

What aspects of my work do I value?

Where do I feel connection in my work (with other people, with my work, with the outcome, with something greater than myself, etc.)?

How does my work align with who I am? Where are the opportunities to make it align more closely?

How can I have a positive impact on the people around me?

How can my work be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

How can my interactions be an expression of my spirituality? How can they help me grow spiritually?

How can the way I engage problems be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

What in my life is this work enabling? (e.g., supporting your family, giving you the money to contribute financially to causes you care about, etc.)

Explore why it matters

If you go back to the definition of meaningful work we’re using here – “Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)” – a follow-up question to the answers of each of these might be, “And why does that matter?”

The goal of that question is to help you build a deeper picture of what matters to you, and why.

The more you understand that, the more you can both recognize opportunities to incorporate more of it into your work and be aware of it when it’s there. The more you are aware of what matters, the more of what matters you consciously experience.

And the more of what matters you experience, the more meaningful work becomes.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Make work meaningful by aligning what you do with who you are

you target

Think back to a time when you felt in the groove, a time when whatever you were doing opened the door to a state of flow where you naturally immerse yourself and feel energized.

Now put that in the context of the definition of meaningful work we’re using in this series on how to make work more meaningful:

Meaningful work = Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)

Do you think work that lets you flow in that groove might feel like it matters? (Hint: I’m thinkin’ yes.) In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how do that.

How to align what you do with who you are

As I described in the post on finding your energizers, my definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.” It’s the definition I have used for the last thirteen years in my Passion Catalyst work as a foundation for helping people create careers that light them up.

In a nutshell, you experience passion when the work you do aligns with who you are – when your work becomes an authentic expression of self.

How do you align what you do with who you are? A great place to start is the exercise I discuss in that post about finding your energizers, taking a look at what you love and digging into why you love it, identifying the underlying themes (reasons why) that tend to be there when you’re energized.

When you understand the underlying reasons why you love what you love, you can consciously look for opportunities to experience them. That might be through something big and life-altering, like a career change, or it might be through something small, like recognizing an opportunity to experience them in a project, or even simply in how you approach your work.

Ultimately, it’s about having a solid self-awareness of “who you are” so you can recognize opportunities to align what you do with that.

Start with self-exploration questions

There is no end of ways to gain a deeper understanding of what makes you tick. Here are ten more questions to get you started. You can unpack more insight from most of them by following the answer up with asking, “Why?”

  • What am I doing when I’m in that groove? (Why am I in my groove then? What is it about that that lets that flow happen?)
  • What am I doing when I”m at my best? (Why am I at my best then?)
  • What are my innate gifts? What do I naturally do well? (Why? What allows me to do that so well?)
  • What do I feel called to do? (Why? What is it about that that is compelling?)
  • What would I do even if I didn’t get paid for it? (Why? What would I get out of it?)
  • How do I work best? (Why? What is it about that way of working that allows my best to come out?)
  • What do I dislike at work? If I could change that, what would the ideal be? (Why? What is it about that that would make it ideal?)

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The more you understand about what makes you tick and how you naturally thrive, the more potential you have to make choices and take actions that align what you do with who you are.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

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