How to Enjoy Work Again

Improve work with a simple look at your "Gain-to-Drain Ratio."

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Curt Rosengren
In my work helping people create careers (and lives) that light them up, one of the ideas I use is something I call "managing your Gain-to-Drain Ratio."

It's a simple idea. In a nutshell, managing your Gain-to-Drain Ratio means bringing more of what energizes you into your life and reducing or eliminating the things that drain your energy. The more Gain and the less Drain you have, the more energized and engaged you'll feel.

You can apply the idea to all parts of your life—work, relationships, health, finances, etc.

Take work, for example. You can start by making an inventory of both sides of the equation. For the Gain, start by asking, what do you love about the work you do? What is most fun? Most interesting? When do you lose yourself in your work? How about the people around you? Who are the people you really enjoy? Are there group interactions you find especially engaging?

On the flip side, take a look at what drains your energy. What drives you nuts? Are there elements of your work that you don't enjoy, or that don't come naturally? Are there people who grate on you? How about the time you have to spend commuting?

Once you have a picture of what both the Gain and the Drain look like, you have a starting point to start managing the Gain-to-Drain Ratio. You can:

  1. Look at the existing Gains and ask, "How can I build more of these into the picture?"
  2. Look at the existing Drains and ask, "How can I reduce or eliminate these?"
  3. Look around and ask, "Are there other things I can incorporate that would result in more Gain?"
  4. The process takes it out of vague feelings about your situation and gives you concrete, tangible things to evaluate and take action on.

    After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, the M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.