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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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The Occupational Adventure Guide