This is a simple experiment to help you find your compass for decisions about work, career pathway and life. You’ll need a pen and notebook with you.
Take a bit of alone time, ideally out in awesome nature somewhere that reminds you of the long-term span of time and how precious and short your time is — cliffs, mountains, big trees, lakes, ocean. Most of all, remind yourself of just being just you – not your relationships, work, etc. Take a moment to just be a creature in the world.
Sit down, close your eyes as you would a mindfulness/meditation practice and think about what you really enjoy and get energised about. Think back on times when you had a spring in your step and felt “that was a good day.”
Imagine your ideal work scenario. Do this quite specifically and tangibly. What does that work/life look like? What’s the work in detail? Not “strategic XYZ” or “Design Director” but “standing at the whiteboard synthesising” or “sitting with a client team working through their strategy.”
Where is it and who are you working with? What are those people like and what do they do and value? What does your daily activity look like?
Now think about your weekly or monthly cadence of different activities – for example, planning and facilitating a workshop once a month, working on proposals most weeks, etc. It’s this detail, not the big picture, that lifts people up or grinds them down in their work life.
Now think about the stuff that de-energises you, when you feel drained and miserable. What do you never want to do anymore and what do you really want to do less of or only a minimum amount of? (We all have admin to do, for example, but if it becomes the majority of what you’re doing and you hate it, that’s a problem. Some people love organising admin, by the way.)
Now write that all down by hand with pen and paper (it’s good for the brain). If you want to take it a step further, map your ecosystem (target/onion diagram) and think about who or what might be important to lead you towards that desired work state. Is it where you already are, but there are some realistic changes you are in a position to make? Or is this a picture of somewhere else or some other career path entirely?
The idea here is to re-calibrate your personal compass. To ensure you’re moving towards that situation that energises you and more of what you want to do, whilst giving you a sense of what to move away from and do less of.
Our bodies rarely lie—hence the focus on energy—while our minds constantly rationalise us away from what we fear. Yet sometimes what we fear is exactly what we should be facing and doing. This activity gives us some raw materials to explore in our coaching sessions.
©2020 Andy Polaine