(Originally posted on Levo League.)
What if you could spend your workdays doing things that you love—things that fill you up and make you feel energized at work all day long? Sounds too good to be true, right? We’ve all become so accustomed to slogging through the workday, feeling simultaneously bored and stressed (and yes, those things can absolutely co-exist). Hopefully you have moments of enthusiasm and fulfillment in your job, but they can be overshadowed by the endless busy work and draining tasks that clutter up your to-do list.
To quote Danielle LaPorte, author of The Fire Starter Sessions and one of my favorite writers, “Be careful what you’re good at—you could end up doing it for years.” So many of us take on jobs or assignments because we’re good at them, but we rarely stop to consider if we like doing them. It’s time to get really clear on what you enjoy doing vs. what you’re capable of doing.
So, how can you start raising your energy level and enthusiasm on a daily basis? I use this simple two-part process with my coaching clients to help them get clarity and take positive steps forward:
1. Figure out what energizes you.
Create a list of all the things in your work life (and in your personal life) that naturally energize you. Try to include every little thing in your day-to-day life that makes you feel positive and alive and excited—in essence, things that make you feel most “you.” Then spend a week adding to the list by taking notes about any little thing that makes you happy, even if it’s as small as sipping on a chai latte. Use this as an excuse to buy a cute journal to keep in your purse or your office drawer. You may find it helpful to also keep track of what things drain you; what tasks send you into full-on procrastination mode? When do you feel heavy and exhausted? By the end of the week, you’ll be hyperaware of your energy fluctuations, and you’ll have a comprehensive list of things that make you feel really good (or really miserable).
2. Find ways to bring more energizing things into your life.
Now that you understand what amps you up and what drags you down, take a look at your daily or weekly work to-do list and label each task as “energizing” or “draining.” Then, prepare for a conversation with your boss about how you can spend more time on the things in the “energizing” list. The key here is to focus the discussion around how you can most benefit your company. If you hate cold-calling but thrive on in-person client interaction, discuss with your manager how you can play to your strengths (remember, we’re talking about things that make you feel energized, not things you just happen to be good at). Talk in terms of your company’s bottom line—when you’re doing things that come naturally and energize you, you’re creating a better product/result for your company, which means a greater profit. If there’s absolutely no way to delegate your draining tasks, find ways to make them less miserable. Take frequent breaks, mix in things that doenergize you, and find ways to reward yourself after you complete tasks.
Let’s be clear about something here: “Simple” does not always equal “easy.” These steps are simple to understand, but they can be very challenging in practice. You might feel uncomfortable having such an open conversation with your boss, or maybe you have intense feelings of guilt when you delegate tasks to others. It’s normal for these feelings to pop up, but if you let them stop you from action, your situation will never improve. Acknowledge your fears, forgive yourself for having these emotions, and decide once and for all that it’s time to stand up for yourself.
I can hear one lingering questions from a few readers: “But what if I’m not energized by anythingat my job?” If you’re truly miserable at your job, then it’s time to get really honest with yourself about why you’re still there. What fears (“What if I can’t find another job?”) or limiting beliefs (“I can’t make a living doing what I love”) or uncertainties (“I don’t know what I want to do—I just know it’s not this”) are keeping you in a job that drains your energy every day? If you feel really stuck in a draining job, and you don’t know how to move forward or make a change, consider working with a life or career coach to help you get clear on what does energize you so you can break through the blocks keeping you stuck.
Kristen & Rachel