Energize your career with the Gain-to-Drain Ratio

Want to energize your career? Or maybe take it a step further and energize your whole life? Well, duh. Of course you do.Who doesn’t?

If pretty much everyone would answer yes to that question, why are so many people dragging their butts off every morning to another zombified day at work like, a bad sequel to Night of the Living Dead?

There are a bazillion reasons for that, but I’m convinced that one of the big ones is that people don’t realize how much lies within their power to change, and just how simple it is to do si.

I’m a fan of simple. In my past thirteen years helping people create careers and lives that energize and inspire them, I have found that often the simplest ideas are the most powerful. And it doesn’t get more simple than this.

It’s an approach you can use to consciously, purposefully raise the energy in any aspect of your life. I call it “maximizing the Gain-to-Drain Ratio.”

Conceptually, it couldn’t get much simpler. All you do is:

  • Bring as much as possible of what gives you energy (the Gain part of the equation)
  • Do whatever you can to minimize the things that drain your energy.
The Gain-to-Drain Ratio is essentially a fraction. Visually, the idea looks like this:

The more you can incorporate the kinds of things that energize you into your life, the more Gain you have. And the more you can change the things that suck your energy away, the smaller your Drain will be.

You can start applying the Gain-to-Drain Ratio by applying it to your work. Take a look at your job and do what I call a “personal energy audit.” Ask questions like:

  • What do I love about this job?
  • What about this job leaves me feeling energized?
  • What about this job leaves me feeling engaged?
  • When do I feel in the zone in this job?
  • What about this job is fun?
  • What do I dislike about this job?
  • What about this job saps my energy? What leaves me feeling drained and depleted?
  • What about this job feels like a grind?
  • What is tedious about this job?

Once you identify your Gains and Drains, you can ask questions to help you start increasing the Gains and reducing the Drains, like:

  • What can I easily bring more of into the picture?
  • What can I easily change?
  • Which changes would make the most impact?
  • Which changes do I want to prioritize?

While I’m at it, I need to give my ever-present caveat that this isn’t a magic wand. It’s not going to take a crap job and make the angels suddenly sing. But it does create an opportunity to start taking control of what you can and change things for the better.

I encourage you to make it a regular habit to stop and ask yourself, “Where’s the Gain here? Where’s the Drain?” It’s a simple way to shine a light regularly on what impacts your energy so you can manage it as you go, rather than trusting to chance or taking action when the Drain gets too strong to tolerate.

Keeping in mind that your work unfolds not in an isolated silo, but in the interconnected, holistic system that is your life, you can also use the Gain-to-Drain Ratio to examine your life in 360 degrees. Look at the different areas of your life, like:

  • Attitudes & Beliefs
  • Finances
  • Health & Wellness
  • Hobbies & Activities
  • Home Environment
  • Meaning & Making a Difference
  • Relationships
    • Romantic
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Professional
    • Community
  • Sex & Sexuality
  • Spirituality
  • Work

As with so many things, much of maximizing the Gain-to-Drain Ratio is about awareness. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. Examining the Gain and Drain breaks it down into specific, tangible things to work on.

[Want to do a deeper dive into maximizing your Gain-to-Drain Ratio? My Passion Catalyst coaching can help.]


Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

The 3 dimensions of getting Wild about Work

3 dimensions to getting Wild About Work

Every once in a while I come across an article calling bullshit on the whole “do what you love” movement. Usually my take on them is the same: “Good points, but too narrow and black-and-white in their view.”

There seems to be two camps in the question. On the one side is the follow your bliss crowd that seems to see pursuing your passion as a potent elixir that will lead you to success and a rollicking good time along the way.

On the other side is a smaller contingent that seems to be convinced that the advice to do what you love is a slippery slope to a career hell of impractical decisions, poverty, and failure.

It’s probably no surprise that I’m not a big fan of either school of thought. I lean toward the follow your bliss side, obviously, but I find it’s too often colored by magical thinking

There’s more than one dimension to loving your work. It’s not all “follow your bliss.” That can certainly be a part of it, but using that as your sole approach is unnecessarily limiting.

Below are three dimensions you can use to get Wild About Work, bring more juice to your job, and dig your days just a bit more.

I. Do work you love

This is what people typically think of when they think of following their bliss. “I love photography,” the thinking goes, “so I should be a photographer.

I have a different way of thinking about this one than most. I think it’s very seldom that people have The One Thing they’re called to do in their careers. Getting Wild About Work is less about finding The One Thing you’re meant to do, and more about finding a path that allows you to experience what energize you. 

When you understand the recurring themes that tend to be present when you feel energized and alive (the underlying reasons why you love what you love), it opens the door to creating a career that allows you to experience those themes. That’s a lot more flexible and packed with options than trying to rigidly pursue The One Thing.

(Download my free short Wild About Work audio course for more ideas on how to do this.)

II. Love the work you do

Getting Wild About Work isn’t just about doing work you love. It’s also about loving the work you do.

Here’s the thing. You live in the real world. And sometimes that means you need to stay exactly where you are, even if it isn’t your dream job.

If that describes your situation and you buy into the black and white binary view of passion vs. work as a four-letter word, you’re pretty much screwed, condemned to suck it up and wait for the weekend.

In this dimension of getting Wild About Work, rather than pining over the work you wish you could have, you direct your attention to finding ways to love the work you do have.

You can start by asking questions, like:

  • What do I enjoy about this work?
  • What do I appreciate about this work?
  • What challenges me in a good way about this work?
  • What positive aspect of this work can I focus on?
  • What difference am I making? Who am I helping?

You can also do what I describe as a “personal energy audit,” asking, “What is energizing/fun/enjoyable about this? What drains my energy about this?” Then use the answers as a starting point to explore ways to bring more of what energizes you and reduce the energy drains.

The basic gist of this dimension is that you can a) start directing your attention to what works and, b) start to sculpt your job and how you do it to tilt the balance towards what leaves you feeling energized and alive.

III. Sculpt your story

Finally, there’s the dimension that happens entirely between your ears. While it may seem the most insubstantial, it is also potentially the most powerful. Why? Because it’s the one we have the most control over.

We all tell ourselves stories about what we experience. That’s how we make sense of the world around us. If you have never taken a conscious look at those stories, they may seem like they’re reality. But in fact they are simply the lens through which we look at the world around us.

So why not use that fact and shape the lens you use to see the world?

At its simplest, sculpting your story is about shifting your awareness and attention away from what’s wrong towards what’s right. Looking around you and asking, “What can I appreciate about this? Where are the opportunities here (to grow, to enjoy, to connect, etc.)?”

The job is still the same job whether you focus on what’s negative about it or what’s positive. You still spend the same amount of time there. There is no risk to sculpting your story, and nothing but upside.

Putting it to use

You can work with each of these dimensions separately or simultaneously. Look at your work and ask:

  1. How can I move more fully towards doing what I love?
  2. How can I feel more love for what I do?
  3. How can I lean my focus more towards the positive?

And don’t just ask those questions once. make it a habit to ask them on an ongoing basis. The more you do, the more potential you have to consciously take advantage of some or all of those three dimensions to help you get Wild About Work.


Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

The Wild About Work ecosystem

I’ve been thinking about how to visually convey the Wild About Work ecosystem that’s at the heart of what I’ll be talking about in this blog. I went to the whiteboard and this is the model that popped out of my brain.

[Note: There’s a refined version of this model at the Wild About Work Basics link.]

Wild About Work pyramid med

There are four main components to the model. Getting Wild About Work entails:

  • Doing work that energizes you.
  • Bringing your heart to work.
  • Creating a stable foundation of well-being to stand on
  • Recognizing that work and life are interconnected

All of the areas outlined in yesterday’s post about where this blog is headed are encompassed in these four things.

Doing work that energizes you: This is about doing work that lights you up. It includes finding a sense of meaning. It encompasses energy management – maximizing the gains and minimizing the drains. It contains the success factors that help you create it, and the work you do to navigate around the obstacles in your way.

Bringing your heart to work: This is as much attitude as it is action. It’s about love and compassion, both for yourself and for others. It’s openness and a willingness to connect. It’s what brings your full humanity into the picture.

Creating a stable foundation of well-being: There are some things that are woven into the fabric of your well-being. When your life incorporates them, it helps create a solid foundation to stand on. When they’re missing, things start to get a bit wobbly. These are a healthy diet, staying well-hydrated, grounding practice of some sort, exercise, and sleep.

Life/Work interconnection: Your work life doesn’t exist in a silo. What happens in each part of your life has an impact on how you experience the others.  The more energized you are in 360 degrees, the more space you will have to experience all the juice your job has to offer.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Get started today 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

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