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In recent years, there’s been lots of articles around this particular subject. In our go, go, go world, how do you stop busy from taking over your life? Sometimes, it’s not even about busy-ness, but also about the constant pressure of doing more, better and faster. All of this pressure just serves to add more of one thing to your life – stress.
When you slow down and examine the pieces of your life, carefully, and decide exactly how you want to spend your time and energy in this area of your life, you can combat this stress. When you gain control over the direction of your career, you gain more margin. This isn’t about not working at all, no, it’s about finding work that fulfills your mental and financial needs.
Today I’m going to show you how to examine the work piece of this puzzle.
First off, let’s muse over a few questions.
Do you enjoy the work that you do?
Does it satisfy your curiosity? Your need to connect with people (or not, if you are more introverted)?
Do you feel fulfilled at the end of the day?
Do you feel stressed or overwhelmed at the thought of working again tomorrow?
If you could retire tomorrow, would you still work at your job, or would you quit?
Do you work more than 8 hours every day? (If you’re a 4/10 shift person, do you work more than your 10 hours?)
What’s the point of that?
The point of this exercise is to get a feel for how you think of your work. Most of us have to work, at least for a while, so why not make sure we’re spending our days doing something that you enjoy, or are at least moderately interested in, and that you’re doing it well? If you focus on finding work that makes you feel fulfilled, like your day was worthwhile – you’re gaining back control of your life and creating margin, or white space, for you to enjoy. You’re eliminating unnecessary stress that comes with a daily situation you have to confront every day that makes you uncomfortable or just plain miserable.
What if you…
- Don’t enjoy your work?
- Aren’t satisfied by your work, but you can do it easily?
- Can’t stand the thought of having to get up and do this all again tomorrow?
- Enjoy an aspect of your work, but not every part of it?
Read on, my friend, read on.
What to Change
Find your Dream Job
If you don’t enjoy your work or it fills you with dread to even think about, it sounds like you may want to try and create a more fitting opportunity for yourself. I recommend checking out Ramit Sethi’s Find Your Dream Job course. In 2013/2014, I felt like I was stuck in a dead-end job where the next step up, career-wise, was a minimum of 9 years away and every day felt like I was stabbing red hot pokers into my liver. (Honestly, my tummy was in knots for months.) I dreaded going to work every day. I felt like I’d learned what I needed to from the job; that I was ready for something more and I just wanted to move on with it! Not to mention, I felt that for the quality of my work, I had backed myself into a corner by not negotiating at all when I accepted my position and I felt well and truly stuck.
Enter Dream Job. I took this course because I was feeling trapped in my career. I thought the answer was finding a completely different company to move onto. By week 8 or so of the course, I had been sending some emails to people in different departments within my company, building connections, asking them how they liked what they were doing. Soon after that, one of them actually approached me to come fill a position with them! I used what I learned in the Dream Job course to ace my interview and I got a $12k raise in one smart move.
Ramit is someone I’ve been following for years, since way back in college and I read his personal finance book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He has a very no-nonsense, action-based style that I love. Give his Dream Job course a look-see. He may not be for you, but it may open your eyes to something similar out there in the universe.
Make your job into your Dream Job
What should you do if you enjoy aspects of your job, but not every part of it or you don’t feel completely satisfied by it?
My question for you is – are you sure you’re challenging yourself enough? If not, then I suggest enhancing the quality of your work. Once you know you are putting in high-quality effort every day, your satisfaction level is going to soar, and your boss will probably sit up and take notice!
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport – I read this book about once a year. It’s a very different take on how to navigate your career(s) throughout your life. An eye-opening read, I highly recommend giving this one a go. Even if you take ONE thing away from this book, your life is probably going to feel more manageable. The sense of control over my career I got from this book was remarkable.
Since reading this book, I’ve gone on to another related position in that same department I mentioned before. I actually was able to acquire this job by developing a new skill set. I can’t tell you how satisfying this job is. Sure, some days I just want it to be the weekend already. Most days, though, I’m using analytical skills, problem-solving skills, people skills, organizational skills; all skills that I had acquired doing different, totally unrelated positions. I was able to find something that just bundled up all the things I’m good at into one great job.
And, bonus, since I’ve been focusing on not only acquiring this new skillset, but being the best I can be at it, I actually got a fantastic raise last fall to prove that I was doing a great job, which doubled the amount of my gross pay since 2013.
This is really great for you, Sierra, but how does it help me?
I’m glad you asked! Creating margin in your career isn’t just about adding breathing room. Notice I’m not saying “Don’t work so much!”, “Slack off a little!”, “It’s just a job!”
No, no, no.
What I am saying is: when you curate a career using your unique set of skills and your high-quality work ethic, you will feel more fulfilled. Your high-quality work will get noticed. (And if it doesn’t well then, use that Dream Job course and go find someone who will appreciate you.)
When your work is high-quality, you’re doing a great job, not only will the work itself be rewarding, but if you work for a good company, your company should be noticing you and rewarding you as well.
Focusing on the right aspects of your work will create breathing room in your life. You will be in control. Your work-excellence will then snowball into other aspects of your life and create more margin there too.
How have you added more breathing room into your work life?
Millie Copper (Homespun Oasis) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking amazon.com.