This is the second part in a 3 part series. To read part 1 about why I think we’re having the wrong conversation about work-life balance go here.
Now that we’ve discussed why balance doesn’t equal happiness – and that pursuing satisfaction makes much more sense, are you wondering how to even begin? Are you saying, “sure, great, I don’t want balance, I want satisfaction, but that doesn’t put me any closer to being fulfilled”?
If you are, that’s totally understandable. Many people wander through the day doing what they have been told will make them happy, but never really examining whether it’s working or not. For this purpose there are a couple of exercises that you can use to help you figure out what will satisfy you.
ENERGIZED VERSUS DEPLETED
First is an exercise adapted from Mel Robbins. Imagine your enthusiasm as a horizontal line. In the middle is neutral and to the left you have drained and the right you have energized.
Consider all the people that you spend time with, and all the things you do on a day to day basis that take up the bulk of your time, and then rate them on this scale. You can write down numbers or you can just do a visual mark for each thing. This is a sliding scale – rarely are things all energizing or all depleting.
Next take a look at the line. What do you notice? Are the items overwhelmingly on one side or the other? Do you find all of your work things on one side and all your life things on the other?
On the drained side – Are there any of these things that you could simply do less of or drop completely? Are any of them people you could try to spend less time around?
On the energized side – Are there any of these things you could spend more time doing? Are any of them people you could spend more time around?
And if all your work items happen to fall under drained, could any of the energized things become a job for you?
What if everything is sort of just hanging around the middle for you? It’s all just kind of meh. You don’t love it, you don’t hate it, you just don’t care. What then? Try this next exercise.
A QUICK TRIP TO HELL
For this example we are going to use work. It tends to be one of the most popular things to fall under the depleting category – but feel free to focus this exercise on any aspect of your life.
Let’s consider for a moment that you are in the absolute WORST job EVER. You hate it. There isn’t a single, solitary thing you can say that’s positive about it. Some examples of things that contribute to that misery could be:
- Excruciatingly long hours to the point that you only go home sometimes and that’s just to sleep
- The water cooler is always empty
- Your boss does no work, but takes credit for all of yours
- No coffee pot and the vending machine that does have coffee just eats your change
- No frills whatsoever (no vacation, no 401k, no bonuses)
- No breaks of any kind – not even for lunch
You get the idea. Write down every single thing that would make your life a living HELL. Consider all aspects including, but not limited to, environment, skills required, typical daily tasks, company vision, etc. Do keep it somewhat realistic. If you’re reading this I’m guess you’re not living a 3rd world, war filled existence. Unless you’re trying to avoid a job as a police officer or the military then being shot at is unlikely to be an issue in your next position.
Once you have all your items listed go back to the beginning and write down whatever is the opposite of those things for you – and be specific. If the water cooler is not only always full, it happens to be in a break room with a microwave and fridge – those are important notes. The things on the list should not just be opposite, but ideal.
Now that you have your list of opposites, what do you see? Are you in the job you want, but you see you’re missing some important things that you could ask for? If not, is this a job in your current field that you could start to search for? Does this look like a job completely outside of what you’re currently doing? Could you switch careers now or start training for this job?
If you feel like this got you somewhere, but you still feel lost or worried about what you’ve discovered about yourself, please click here and fill out the form. Coaching can help you navigate big life changes.
In the next post I’m going to discuss another way to organize your life (including work) and see what areas are important to you and how happy you are in each. And also, how to improve them.
If you would like help going through this exercise or getting to that ideal job you just discovered, contact me here.