You’ve heard that saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, right?
Trying not to gag?
I know, the clichés and platitudes start to sound a little hollow. Of course, if work was all bubble baths, naps, and snacks, life would be grand!!
I'm not saying there's no grain of truth to the cheesy clichés. There is. The reason they’re clichés is because they’re true.
How about if we suffice to say, life is better if you don't find your work mind-numbing, chronically stressful, or meaningless? Who wants to be miserable for 90 000 hours of their life? That is a trap you don't want to get caught in. I know it’s work but it doesn’t have to feel like a life sentence.
If your work feels like a real struggle, make sure to read my career article 3 Small Steps to Feel Happy at Work When You Aren't.
That's why you're here. You want work that feels "right" in some way. It should be challenging but in a way that makes you feel sort of excited. Or, it might pay you a certain amount of money that makes it possible for you to do exciting and challenging things when you're not working. Maybe it's time and flexibility you seek. You don't have to love your job. You don't have to get all your needs met by your job. That's putting a lot of pressure on it. But, I'd like you to love your life. If your work supports your life the way you want it to, you've won. The end. This is the goal.
This is the part that often gets overlooked. The bit about you setting up your work and life in a way that works for you. NOT what you think you should do or what you think others think you should do. Live your own damn life. Keep your eyes on your own homework. Stay in your own lane super chief.
Also, put aside those thoughts that keep you stuck. You know the ones, the ones about being too old, too young, too shy. Try to keep an open mind about the things you like both in and outside of work. Try not to get caught up in how "realistic" things are. Forget about things like your job title and pay for now. That stuff is all just noise and it’s not helpful for this exercise.
So, the purpose of figuring out what you love isn't so you can start doing it for your work. You might. You might not. But it's important to figure out what IT is and start doing it--whether or not you get paid.
Here are the 3 small steps to take to figure out what you love:
1. Make a list of things that make you happy.
2. Make a list of things you do every day.
3.Compare these lists + adjust accordingly.
I know what you’re thinking--that this is all too simplistic, but it’s not. No need to be all dramatic! No need to over complicate it. Think about these things: What do you like to read? What would you like to do more of? Less of? What are you good at? What would you like to get better at? What do you dream about? What makes you feel curious? What are you doing now that you don't like? What did you used to do that you miss? What thoughts and feelings do you enjoy having and what types of activities cause these? What makes you feel proud? What makes you feel challenged? What makes you feel alive? This isn't difficult, most people just don't take the time to think about these things in a focused way.
Bonus: Start doing more of what makes you happy! Here's something to try:
Schedule 15 minutes a day for this activity. Same time each day, for 10 days.
Day 1 - Make a list of things that make you happy. Consider the questions posed above and start jotting down your answers. I mean really stretch. Every time you write something, ask yourself "What else?” Keep adding.
Day 2 - Make a list of things you do every day--inside and outside of work.
Day 3 - Compare your two lists. Make a new list of what it is you like that you aren’t doing.
Day 4 - Prioritize your list of likes in order of importance to you.
Day 5 - Brainstorm ideas of how you can incorporate this list of ideas into your work and life.
Day 6 - Brainstorm all the reasons you think you won’t or can’t start doing the things on your list. Identify as many obstacles as you can. Every time you write something, ask yourself "What else?” Keep adding.
Day 7 - Come up with as many possible solutions for the obstacles you identified and list them.
Day 8 - Rank your list of solutions in order of importance to you.
Day 9 - Identify the actions you would need to take to complete solution #1.
Day 10 - Schedule each of these actions on your calendar. Take one small action every day.
Keep identifying and trying things until you find solutions to obstacles. Keep moving through your list of solutions, identifying small steps to take and scheduling these on your calendar. The more curious you get and the more things you try, the more you will hit on things you enjoy and you will find ways to incorporate them into your life.
It's your choice how you want to spend your life. You can live on auto-pilot and just default to whatever work and activities you fall into or you can make a conscious effort to decide how to spend your days. Totally up to you but why not inject a bit of intention into the mix and see how it feels? I'll warn you though, these things tend to snowball. One day you are feeling stuck and the next you have sold all of your belongings and are living in a van next to a river. Ha! Just kidding, that probably won't happen.
Also, you can change the plan above in whatever ways you see fit. It’s not an exact science but the steps work. Give them a try + let me know how you make out!
I'd like to add a little something to this. If you have a job that is making you very unhappy and that unhappiness is starting to seep into your life, please don't stay unhappy. If you need some things to try while you are working through this exercise, please read my article 3 Small Steps To Take When You Hate Your Job.
If you've come to the point where you know it's time to leave what you're doing behind, it's more important than even to do things to lift your spirits and help you feel supported. This is where adding the things you love into your day are critical. If you are having trouble connecting what you love to some kind of work, that's okay. We will be talking more about how to figure out your Career Interests later on in this series. In the meantime, keep working on taking your small steps. You will be amazed by where they take you! There will be more to come.
Want more? Still struggling with the Monday Blues? I have just the thing!! Let me help. Learn more about coaching.