Many moons ago, when I was a college student, we were given an assignment to describe what we didn’t want our work life to be like. Not an overall picture, but just what type of typical workday would be like a nightmare to have to endure in order to make a living. I completed the assignment, and once it was graded and returned, unlike most of my other papers that were tossed without a second glance, I tucked it away for my future self to enjoy.
Recently, while sifting through dusty boxes that had been shuffled on and off moving trucks for almost two decades, I came across a cache of notebooks, one of which contained that assignment. Imagine my surprise when what I had envisioned so long ago perfectly described, with the exception of one detail, my current employment situation. The one detail: relying on someone else for a ride. Luckily, I have my own transportation. But, other than that, it hit every single, nightmarish point.
While I am well aware that my so-called career tests my sanity on an almost minute-by-minute basis, I have become comfortably numb to the fact that it is, on almost every level, an affront to who I am, inherently. My younger self knew who I was and what I needed to do and not do to be happy. My current self has forgotten.
They say that what you do for a living is not who you are. I agree, to a point. But it does shape the majority of your day and seeps into your pores to become part of your DNA if you allow it to. For some, who enjoy their work, this is a good thing. For others like myself, it is a betrayal that is worn in the growing furrow in my brow, the slouch in my posture, the hollow tone of my voice.
I could have gone on with my current worklife for eons, content with the better-than-average paycheck and slightly smug over the fact that even though I am a single mother I am able to support myself and my daughter fairly easily. There are those benefits, and believe me, I am very thankful for them. Life could be much harder, even dire. But, as far as creature comforts go, we’re comfortable creatures.
But, at some point, comfort isn’t enough. At some point, the benefits no longer outweigh the lack of joy, the missing spark. When that realization hits you between the eyes, it’s time to create a plan of action. And, what better way to start than by defining exactly what an ideal work day would be like.
Begin with the end in mind – Stephen Covey
From start to finish, what would your ideal work day look like? What time would you wake up? Would you exercise or meditate before going to work? Would you even “go” to work, or would you work from home? What would your day entail? What hours would you work?
Once you have the bullet points down, which now represent the end result, what changes need to be put into place to make it happen? This can be “part two” of this exercise, creating a plan of action. Take small steps, and celebrate along the way.
I would love to hear your results, please feel free to comment!