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Discover the Secret Clues to a Great Job

Jan 16, 2008
What if your daily life habits were actually secret clues that held the key to reconstructing your work-life or business to make it fit you? How would it change your happiness meter if you looked forward to going to work every day?

I had a colleague who began to notice that he dreaded going to work. This was perplexing to him because he generally enjoyed his job. His energy and enthusiasm were dwindling and he was ruminating about quitting even though he knew he needed to keep working.

He tried several changes to reverse his downward slide. For example, during the morning commute he switched from listening to news to singing along with his favorite tunes, he tried changing his exercise routine, even driving a different route to work to shake things up. No luck. Walking up to his office building every day was beginning to resemble walking the plank.

As I listened to him describe his job, it was clear that he did not dislike what he was doing. He decided that rather than developing more surface, fix-it strategies he would look for clues to uncover what was working well in his life. Finding the right clues would yield strategies that he could apply to his work life.

To start the process, he tried to think of the first event that happened during a typical day that brought him a positive feeling. He puzzled for a moment and then began to smile as he described his first cup of morning coffee. He talked about sitting on his back deck viewing a small pond that he could just make out in the distance through the morning fog. He could usually hear birds singing and see sunlight filtering through the trees.

We examined his story in detail to figure out what it meant to him. He listed his clues as: being alone, sense of clarity, having plenty of time to think and viewing a powerful scene in the distance.

What began to emerge was his need for solitude, visioning time and feeling calm. I asked him to describe what happens as he enters his office each day.

He grimaced. It turns out that as soon as he got to work the staff was waiting almost hungrily for him. They tended to pepper him with questions as he walked past their desks to reach his large, windowless office. His motivation to produce his best work took a nosedive before he could even start the day.

Many of my colleague's worst moments occurred when other people dictated his pace at the start of his day. He realized if he was going to stay at this job, he had to create a workspace that allowed him to work his way.

To be effective, he needed to control his ease in pace so that he could maximize his natural strengths. It was as if he was coming to work and started writing with his left hand even though he was right handed. It immediately made him uncomfortable and his performance suffered.

A new plan emerged. His idea was to arrive at the office thirty minutes before his staff came to work. This allowed him to plan his day at his pace. With the full support of his boss, he was able to add 30 additional minutes to his lunch break and take a long walk at lunch allowing him to think and experience the outdoors each day.

This was a winning solution for both my colleague and his employer. He was able to produce the quality of work in the way he wanted to resulting in a positive upward spike in his feelings about going to work. His employer was able to keep a very valuable contributor.

How to Make Your Work Fit You:

1. When in your day are you at your best?

2. What exactly are you doing? Thinking, doodling, talking to people, reading, exercising?

3. What is the hardest part of your day? What exactly are you doing?

4. Take what you discover in step 2 and incorporate it into the hardest part of your day to customize your day to fit you so you can be at your best.

Never underestimate the difference one small change can make if you make the right change.
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