Last Wednesday afternoon, as I stood in the eye of the commuter storm in the centre of London’s Paddington train station, I thought for the first time:
“How many people do I know who really like their work?”
I’d say someone who likes their work (not all the time, but more often than not) looks forward to working, they like week days just as much as weekends, they will happily spend their free time thinking about and learning how they can be better at their work, their eyes light up when they tell you about their work with genuine enthusiasm… you get the picture.
I couldn’t think of one person, although in the week since I’ve managed to get to a couple of maybe’s (out of everyone I know).
Don’t you think that’s mental? (no offence intended if you are actually… mental, at least you have a genuine excuse)
With our most valuable resource, the only thing we can’t get any more of – TIME – the majority of people settle for a life that gives them 2 out of 7 (or 29%) satisfaction.
What makes it even more insane is that we wouldn’t dream of settling for that level of satisfaction in anything else in life, even the most mundane and meaningless things we do.
We won’t watch a movie with anything less than a 3 stars, we only buy from Amazon sellers with a 90%+ rating, a single unsatisfactory experience in a restaurant (or pretty much any business for that matter) will lose you as a customer and there’s no way you’re getting to a 3rd or 4th date in a new relationship if more than one hasn’t gone well.
So my case is made: the majority of people settle for miserable satisfaction with their most valuable resource (time), but scream and kick and cry when much less important things aren’t close to perfect.
Never pointing out a problem without offering a solution – If you are one of this majority but would like to start tilting the “life satisfaction” scales a little more in your favour, then I have an idea for you to try:
I think a big part of enjoying your work – or anything for that matter – comes from the feelings of 1. being good at it (the feeling of achievement) and 2. getting better at it (the feeling of making progress or improving).
Feeling like you’re achieving and progressing with your work is entirely within your control and to start on this path the first thing you need to do is think about your job from a new perspective. A bit like giving your attitude a swift 1-inch punch to the nuts.
Your attitude, or perspective, is simply how you describe something to yourself internally.
So instead of thinking about your work in terms of “what I do…” or “what I have to do…”, think about your work starting with:
“I get to…”
Describing what you do like this will tell you exactly what your value is to your company and the people you deal with in your work.
Understanding what’s valuable about what you do allows you to do 2 things:
Firstly, you will immediately know if you’re doing a good job or not and, if you’re not, it will be very clear what you need to do to get that feeling of achievement.
Secondly, true innovation is finding new and better ways to become more valuable (as a person or as a company). So the internal mindset of “I get to…” will tell you what value you provide and switch on your mind to find ways of becoming even more valuable (i.e. improving or making progress).
At the risk of over-simplifying: An example to get you on the right track could be someone working as an office receptionist. If you asked them what they did, they might say “I answer the phone, make / manage appointments and deal with customer complaints”
Sounds pretty miserable no?
Well if that receptionist thought about it hard (and without being cynical), I bet they could come up with some I get to’s like:
- “I get to… make the first impression that our business gives to potential clients”
- “I get to… control how much income (from appointment scheduling) our company makes each day”
- “I get to… generate repeat business by turning bad customer experiences into positive ones”
Now, I’m not telling you to get a permanent smile tattooed across your face and dance around the town singing about your job. This is simply a way to start thinking about your work so that you can begin to enjoy what you do more and more.
From the 3 phrases above, its clear what makes a good receptionist:
One that makes a positive first impression. One that fills appointment schedules every day. One that makes unhappy customers happy.
It’s also clear that there are an unlimited number of ways to innovate (improve / make progress) in all of these areas, new skills that could be learned and an endless series of ideas to test every day.
So if you want to start enjoying your 5 days as well as your 2 at the weekend, an “I get to…” mindset could be a good starting point.
Just a thought.
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