Do you want to feel more energized by your work and life in 2011?
Of course! Who doesn’t? But turning that desire into reality is far from easy. Every new year brings intentions for positive change, and the majority of those intentions eventually go splat. Saying “I want to enjoy my job more next year” is one thing. Actually pulling it off is another.
Rather than expecting your career goals to magically shift into place with a new calendar, try this step-by-step process to create that positive change:
Step 1: Do a personal energy audit
A personal energy audit is a simple yet potentially powerful tool to help you amp up the energy in your career. It involves asking yourself these two questions:
• What's energizing me? What do I like?
• What is draining my energy? What do I dislike?
Ultimately, your goal is to feel as energized as possible, but the energy in your career and life doesn’t come from just one source. It comes from the sum total of many individual energy gains and energy drains. Doing a personal energy audit lets you identify those individual puzzle pieces so you can more consciously build on the gains and reduce the drains.
Step 2: Look for the energy sources
Once you’ve identified the things that give you energy in your work, ask yourself two more questions:
• How can I bring more of what already energizes me into the picture?
• Where are the opportunities to bring other sources of energy into my work?
The first question builds on what’s already working, while the second question aims to add new energy sources to your day. Those new energy sources might not even be specific to your job. For example, you could start listening to motivational CDs on the commute to work. While that has nothing to do with the job itself, it could have a significant effect on how you feel at work.
Step 3: Eliminate energy drains
Once you’ve looked for opportunities to put more energy into your day, it’s time for some “addition by subtraction.” Eliminating or reducing the source of those energy drains has the net effect of giving you more energy. For each energy drain you identify, ask these three questions:
• Can I stop doing or experiencing this? How?
• What can I do differently that would change this experience?
• Can I think about this differently? Can I tell myself a different story about this experience?
It’s often surprising to realize just how much we can do to prevent our energy from being sapped. And even if direct change isn’t possible, how you think about your actions and the story you tell about them can make a big difference.
Step 4: Practice gratitude
Numerous studies have shown that gratitude has a powerful impact on how we feel, our health, and our overall well-being. It’s one of the simplest sources of energy, and it’s easy to apply to our job and life.
To start training your gratitude muscle, keep a journal. Every day, take inventory of what you’re grateful for. First thing in the morning or right before bed are good times for this reflection. Try to really feel it, rather than just mechanically listing ideas.
You can take it a step further by developing a gratitude-check habit. Throughout the day, stop and ask, “What can I be grateful for right now?”
Step 5: Stop complaining
Most complaining does nothing but inject toxic negative energy into your day. If you want to maximize the energy you feel in your career and your life, give complaining the heave-ho.
If you’re not convinced this will make a big difference, try an experiment. Challenge yourself to go without complaining for a week. Notice when you feel compelled to complain. Take note of when you do it, and why. Take a look at its effect on you. Does it change how you view things? What does it reinforce?
Step 6: Habitually ask what’s good
Finally, develop a habit of stopping and asking, “What is good right now?” It’s a question of focus. If you habitually focus on the negative, that’s what you’ll experience. The more you make it a habit to look for the good, the more you’ll see the glass as half full. Even if the situation itself doesn’t change, train yourself to look for and benefit from the positive side of the situation.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About, 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.