Imagine finding the perfect place to work or living your absolute best, because you’re in the right environment using your greatest talents and skills in full alignment with your passions and values.
“Is that even possible? How in the world do I figure that out?” you ask.
First, it is totally possible. (I’m living it as I write this.)
Second, it’s easy when you know your personal brand.
Okay. Well…not always, but it’s 100% worth the effort to dream a little bit with me this week, because the more you’re in your YES!, the more likely that the ideal work environment will just naturally become a part of your life.
This week’s exercise just might be the most fun one we’ve had.
I know some people who’ve made it a mini-morning retreat, some a full retreat, and others, a quick exercise that helps them escape their current situation.
This Ideal Day exercise will allow you to create an Ideal Day that can be whatever you want it to be. The bottom line is this:
- Money is no object.
- No dream or idea is stupid (just wipe that word out of your vocabulary please).
- These ideas are what’s written on YOUR heart, which means there’s probably a very good chance that it’s been written on your heart with good reason (and possibly by God…just a thought).
I have to admit something though: Sometimes it’s easier to complete this exercise if you’re seeking a significant change in your work and your life and are downright miserable.
It’s sad but true.
What happens is this: Take our jobs, for example.
When we are miserable in our jobs we often vacate gratitude in search of the answers to our woe-is-me pity party.
I promise you that I’ve been there 100%.
I have been one of the worst self-pitying complainers that I know, but I’m so glad she got ditched a decade ago.
I have had work that has been undeniably miserable. If you don’t believe me, email me and ask me about any of the roles that I had in my About Me section. I’ll tell you!
I would literally spend whole days fabricating my dream job, office, culture, schedule, and more. I would call my mom (ask her), friends or anyone who would listen to my woes. God Bless them. Truly.
Truth: When we complain day in and day out, we not only affect our own health and well-being, we’re robbing our colleagues of professional joy as they listen to our noise – AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – someone else of the opportunity to experience great joy doing the very work in the very place we’re complaining about working. Someone else would LOVE to have that work, put their talents and skills into meaningful action and set you free.
A hot little dose of reality. Yes?!
While I was just trying to figure out my life, I had no gratitude in the midst of it and was so unhappy. (That’s another topic for another time.)
AT THE SAME TIME: Funny how that horrible work may have very well given birth to this exercise.
God was doing his work on me during that crazy decade of malcontent.
He knew I’d be speaking about this topic, coaching people to move through it, and writing a book about it…and He knew that I better have a little reality and experience to be able to serve people honestly and with empathy.
God also knew this: There is nothing I get more professionally fired up about than:
1. PEOPLE BEING THEIR BEST SELF 100% IN THEIR PERSONAL YES
2. LIGHTING THE WORLD ON FIRE IN THE RIGHT WORK.
I had to have awful work to get to where I am now or I would have no understanding, perspective, or compassion for everyone in this community or my clients – I just wouldn’t “get” it.
God is working on us all the time and wants the best for us.
We’re often placed in situations so that we can grow, break out, and further step into the YES we’re called to live.
Remember this: God doesn’t want you or I to be miserable. He didn’t give any of us our great combination of talents, skills, passions and values for nothing.
So, without further ado, how do we figure out this thing called “work environment”?
The way I see it, there are so many areas that can affect whether someone is thriving and able to step into their YES at work.
Here are some Thought Starters to ask yourself questions about your Ideal Work day. Sometimes it does help to draw on current or past work experiences to make a blueprint of what made you thrive and what made you wither. This same exercise can be used for your personal life as well. Simply pretend that you aren’t at work (think Saturday!) and map out your day from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep (no work allowed).
Let’s get started:
- Get out your paper/pen, PC, Mac or journal.
- Close your eyes and envision the beginning of the day. You’re waking up. What time is it? Do you have an alarm go off? When you see your bedside table, what’s on it? What do you do before your feet hit the floor? After you wake up, then what? Breakfast? Coffee? Devotions? Write down EVERYTHING.
- Take yourself all the way through your Ideal Days – both Work and Personal. Some of my clients like to do this in :30 minute and 1 hour increments. While these two ideal days may intertwine, the idea is to identify areas that need further prioritization in your personal life first so that your work life can be less stressful and more fulfilling. Beginning with our priorities first, we’re able to make better decisions at our current work or possibly shift into a role or company that better supports our priorities. (On a personal note, I have a third Ideal Day that doesn’t include my family. I often put this into action when I’m on solo retreat.)
- Once you’re finished, put a star by everything you’re doing already. Make a note of which ones you’re doing well.
- Circle everything you’re not doing that you wish that you were doing. Can you start anything new today? What is holding you back? Is it a real obstacle (like money, logistics) or is it fear/negative talk that’s the obstacle?
- Underline the ones that you want so badly but feel impossible. Why? With God all things are possible, but we have to work hard through prayer and trying to make the tough stuff happen. Ask for doors to open to make that desire that’s written on your heart a reality.
Thought Starters for Ideal Work Day
Can I be myself? Am I valued just as I am? Are my talents and skills being used? Do I like the people I work with? Is it easy or difficult? Do I need a work environment that combines work with my social life or separate? Do I want to have social interaction (lunch, breaks, outside work activities) with my coworkers or not? Are my ideas valued and heard? Can I move into a new role that leverages my best talents and skills? Do I need to be in a social, conversant, loud, bubbly environment, or quiet, independent working, even-keeled, heads-down environment? Traditional or edgy? Hip or conservative? Dress code or no code? Happy Hour or get-me-out-of-here-my-work-is-done-hour? What do I need in with the people and overall culture of where I work? Big, medium, small, start-up, non-profit organization? People management? Project management? Executive team? Middle management? Family-friendly/supportive? Profit over effort? Strategic planning and execution strategy or go with the flow creative firm?
Space/Sensory Analysis Questions
Inside or outside? Both? Light or dark? Clean/white, creative/color? What’s on my desk? What type of desk do I have? Plants? Knick Knacks? Pictures? Window? Office, cubicle, open work space, home office, no office (the world is your office)? Neat and tidy, organized disorganization, surrounded by many things? Music? Sound? Quiet? Noise? Think sensory things? What does it smell like? Do I need fresh air like open windows all day or just the chance to get out?
Expectations/Communication/Work Style Questions
How well do I need to know the expectations of my boss and others? Regular touch-base meetings or go with the flow? Transparency vs. I’ll need to know things when I need to? Management style for your manager to you? For you to your direct reports? How much recognition do I want/need? Do I need public or private recognition? Do I prefer monetary or merit-based recognition? How important is being a part of strategic planning to me? Do I have to know everything that’s going on or just what’s happening with my role? Is it a 9-5 role or flexible schedule/work from home? Working independently, with others on teams or a combination? How important is trust that you’ll get your work done? Held to a number or the effort you put into the objective?
What industries excite me (see Passions & Values)? What type of role would I love to have? If I could have any type of job, what would it be (even if it isn’t realistic)? What products do I love/loathe? What industries do I need to run to/run from? What products align with my passions and values, and which ones should I completely avoid? What type of work would change everything to better right this minute if I could make it happen?
There are literally thousands of questions that can be asked here, so this is simply to get your brain moving. While it’s focused on work, it’s truly transferable into our personal lives as well, you just have to twist the questions to suit your life at home. Get creative!
The goal is this: Create your ideal, because you deserve to dream! Walt Disney said that if you can dream it you can achieve it. I believe it too.
I promise all of this will really start to make sense next week when we put it all together.
As you recognize areas needing immediate attention, tell yourself that you CAN make a change and incorporate small achievable steps toward incorporating the ideal into your current life. Sometimes one little change will make a huge impact on your overall wellbeing and success.
Get stuck? Talk it through with a loved one, pray about it, and keep visualizing yourself doing it already.
This Week’s Action Items
Design your Ideal Days: work and personal.
Make a note of what you’re doing well now, what you’d like to start today, and what will need a little more work to be put into action.
Pretend money is no object so that you’re being open to new possibilities in both your work and your life.
Get your Dream Seeds planted: Vision Boarding
(Summer 2015 Blog Series)