Monday, September 30, 2013

It's all in the mind

The degree of enjoyment you draw from your work has a direct bearing on your perception of whether you have a satisfactory work-life balance or not. The less you enjoy your work, the more likely you are to consider it an interruption to your life and its priorities. Of course a degree of flexibility and sense of control of your time is important for work-life balance, but beyond these, basics enjoyment and fulfilment counts for far more.

For those whose work is their passion, some artists and athletes for example, the issues of work-life balance rarely arise - it’s just something that has to be managed. But most people aren’t fortunate enough to be in that position, and being passionate about their work, although it’s a fashionable idea in modern management parlance, may be a false ideal to strive for. Nonetheless we can all benefit from working to increase our level of enjoyment and satisfaction in what we do.

There are three primary sources of enjoyment – self, others and purpose.

In the first case there’s the enjoyment you can derive from the work itself. Rather than just doing your job, why not set goals for yourself above and beyond those expected by the organisation? And then take satisfaction in achieving them or at least getting close.

Sources of enjoyment involving others are plentiful. Enjoy having a laugh and a joke with your colleagues, take an interest in their hobbies, their family and their personal life and make it a priority to get to know them better. Beyond that there’s the fulfilment that can come from actively helping others, in a coaching or mentoring role, or simply in being supportive.

Contributing to a purpose is the third source. By this I mean the contribution your job makes to making the world a better place to live in. It doesn’t matter what you do, someone somewhere will inevitably benefit from your endeavours. Consider the famous story of the cleaner interviewed at NASA in the sixties. When asked what they were doing they replied “Helping to put a man on the moon!”  

You need to take ownership of the emotional engagement you have with your work – whether you are satisfied and fulfilled, or whether you are bored and dissatisfied, it’s down to you  and it all starts in the mind.

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