How do you connect with your passion while your in-box is overflowing, the phone is ringing, and deadlines are coming fast and furious?
With numerous post-it notes to deal with, phones ringing off the hook, and people filing in to have you solve their problems, it is quite the challenge to feel or be in touch with any sort of passion or purpose at work. But, fear not. It can be done in bite-size steps by harnessing your focus. Since the coaching experience is focused on simple, bite-sized actions, I have listed practical and easy-to-implement steps that have personally helped me and my clients rediscover some of the professional passion and vision that sometimes gets buried under mountains of memos and trade journals.
Beyond the paycheck and the duty to keep beans on the table, people go to work for other reasons. Don't believe me? How else do you explain millionaires who have all the money they need for a lifetime who still work 8- to 10-hour days. They certainly don't need the money, and if you talk to them, it doesn't come out of greed or fear. In actuality, their passion in their work comes from making a difference in the world.
Below are some strategies to minimize the stress you feel before, during, and after your work day and to tap into the great creativity resource we call passion.
BEFORE WORK -- Getting yourself motivated to face the day and keep any road rage in check. You ever notice how road rage happens on the way home and not going to work.
- REPLACE THE IDEA OF WORK WITH CONTRIBUTION -- Instead of getting up in the morning at 8:45 a.m. and lamenting to anyone who will listen, "Why do I have to go to work?," simply replace it with "Why do I have to go contribute?" You will be better able to focus on the day ahead and see that it really does have a larger purpose. Simply view your day as a chance to contribute to the greater good beyond your paycheck and keeping food on the table. Even if all you do is turn one screw all day in a factory -- focus instead on the families who will benefit from your little action and whose lives will be enriched. There is a ripple effect to any action no matter how small. Ask yourself: What can I do to contribute to the team/company today and reach the NEXTlevel of profitability and impact?
- BLOCK OUT A BALANCED FRAMEWORK FOR YOUR DAY -- This is getting pretty advanced, but if you don't have at least a framework of what you want to or have to accomplish, you will find yourself at the end of the day saying, "Where does the time go?" The framework idea is so that your schedule isn't so rigid that it doesn't allow for flexibility for emergencies, but you still make progress on the major projects.
- CONNECT WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS -- Do something to help your coworkers succeed in their day. It doesn't have to be huge. Show them a better way to organize something or let them know that you thought they did a good job on their last report. Talk about their families instead of the weather. Don't force your ideas on them. You will be amazed how they feel they should return the favor to you. Advanced strategy: Talk to your "rival" or someone you don't normally have an open relationship with in the office about his/her work in a positive way and watch the office politics melt away.
- DON'T IMMEDIATELY RESPOND TO YOUR PHONE AND EMAIL Take an hour in the middle of the day to return phone calls and emails. Neither your email "in-box" nor your voicemail will explode if you wait to call someone back. It is hard at first to ignore the phone, but then it becomes a devious little pleasure that you don't have to answer the phone just because it is ringing. Also, have some block time for your co-workers or staff so you don't shut them out. Ask yourself: How can I group my activities and projects into blocks of time? (i.e. phone calls, staff meetings, etc.)
- TAKE A BREAK! -- But Andy, you say -- I need to get this report done right away. I know there are deadlines (you may want to call them completion dates), but taking one minute out of your day to do nothing and just close your eyes and take a breath is not going to hurt. Create a "snack drawer" with healthy snacks for those of you for whom lunch breaks are a distant memory. You will feel much better and better able to concentrate for the rest of the day. I know you know this, but when you see the empty bags of Doritos and your fourth cup of coffee, you will understand why this is a good strategy. It doesn't have to be long or involved, but human beings work best according to scientific studies in 45-minute increments. Both learning, creativity, and of course passion drop off after that. Ask yourself: What is a great 5-minute micro-break idea I can use today? How can I keep my mind fresh throughout the day?
- AFTER WORK, CREATE A DE-THAW SPACE -- Don't lunge for the answering machine or start paying bills. Take a walk with the dog or spend some time with your family. Reconnect with what you leave the house for 8-10 hours a day. More "spirited debates" have been avoided in my house with this strategy. We have a rule that no one talks about work or home challenges until we all have had a chance to reconnect with the passion for each other and slow down from the frenzied pace of the day. Even if you have carried work home, put it in a special place outside of the normal living area. Ask yourself: What can I do to make my transition from work to home relaxing and connect with others?
- REVIEW YOUR DAY -- Complete the circle and see what you can improve on. Did you take enough time to connect with your purpose beyond your paycheck? Did you keep your energy high throughout the day? Did you control your schedule and complete or make progress on your projects? If you did, don't wait for your boss to reward you -- do it for yourself. Buy the latest bestseller, eat out without guilt, or make yourself a huge banana split. It's the gold star method that works just as well if not better in adulthood as it did in pre-school.
I know these ideas may seem basic, but simple ideas get results----if you do them. A coach helps you do what you know consistently, but since I am a virtual coach right now, I can only beg you to take some sort of action to get control at your place of employment and connect with the true impact you make on a daily basis. I wish you the best of life adventures.
Today's Top7Business article was submitted by Andy Grosman. Coach Andy is a personal coach specializing in the areas of creative partnership/life planning/creative marketing/sales to help you reach your NEXTlevel. Visit him at www.nextlevelcoaching.com to learn how to reach your NEXTlevel and attract your goals into your life with a full month of the NEXTlevel coaching experience. For a weekly virtual coaching conversation newsletter, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org