While there are a number of emotions or states of being such as love, happiness, anger, anxiety, depression, and pain in our lives; it is gratitude that can act as the multiplier to either create the positive emotions or help us deal with the negative ones. Gratitude has the power to create a sense of well being and at the same time destroy those ego driven emotions such as I have not achieved enough, life is unfair, I am not appreciated, or I am not good enough. When you are truly grateful it becomes more difficult to be angry or feel unappreciated. In fact you might use gratitude as the powerful tool that it is, to turn things around and think about that situation that is making you angry, and write down some reasons why this situation makes you grateful. An example of this might be some attitude you have been fostering about your partner or your work. Are you letting your ego rule the mind? Is this person or role you play at work all bad? Probably not, most likely you are stuck in a negative thinking pattern and digging the hole deeper day by day. The reasonable approach would be to use gratitude to break this negative thinking pattern, which will of course make you feel a bit of a fool for indulging in it so fervently in the first place.
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. I like this quote as it supports my assertion that gratitude creates the positive emotions or virtues that we all want to foster.
Many have said that when you live of life of gratefulness that more is returned to you and while I agree this is true, you must ask why? From a purely psychological perspective feelings of gratitude put you in a position to do more, create better relationships, appreciate other people and yourself. This is because the feelings of gratefulness have the ability to destroy those negative emotions that are pulling you down the rabbit hole. I think gratitude is a true multiplier of your ultimate potential. Here are just a few ways it can drive positive change in your life:
- Instead of inventing or finding ways to criticize the behavior of others you start to appreciate their positive traits and yes almost everyone has traits you can appreciate if you look hard enough.
- If you have some appreciation and better yet are grateful for those you live and work with, do you think this will create a better relationship? What does this do for your own piece of mind? This is a win/win situation and is key to you thriving in this world instead of just condemning those you interact with. This is one of the reasons I don’t like to talk about politics with anyone, as most people start out telling me how much they hate the candidate from the opposite party than the one they are affiliated with. They can’t appreciate anyone they don’t completely agree with.
- Maybe there are aspects of your work that suck, but you in your infinite wisdom have decided to focus on those aspects and create a life of misery for yourself and others. All this results in you not putting in the effort at your work that would benefit your career. When you are grateful for your work you put in more effort creating better results, more opportunity, and most of all greater job satisfaction for you. No one expects you to like all aspects of your work, but maybe there are some things you can be grateful for such as:
- The length of your commute
- Core aspects of your work
- The people you work with
- Your customers
- Working at home
- The fact you are employed
- Provide a useful product or service
- Purpose driven organization
- Growth that provides career opportunities
- Beyond your relationships and your work the level of gratitude you experience benefits your personal well being. Who knows maybe you will start finding reasons for living because you are grateful for what you have. No one wants to just exist, struggling to make it through the day, so you can do it all over again tomorrow. Start with a gratitude practice and all the other shit in your life will begin to fall in place.
I hope I have made a compelling case why gratitude is such a powerful virtue that benefits you and all those around you in so many profound ways. I wrote a post a while back on the importance of really feeling grateful and it might be worth a look. Get a journal or one of the phone apps and get started today.
As the week winds down you finally get to Friday, which for many employees turns out to be the most unproductive day of the week. Most of us are looking forward to the week being over and may be even a bit burned out, and by noon productivity begins to dip. I’ve experienced this many times myself as we use what is left of our precious energy to get through the remaining hours of the day so we can get out of there. I’m going to suggest an alternative for the Friday malaise, and it has to do with using what you have left in the tank mentally and physically to do something that produces value for you and your employer.
The suggestion is to devote as much of the day as possible to planning and cleanup activities. So instead of watching the clock and generally wasting time waiting to get the hell out of there you have something to do that occupies your time and can help you achieve your goals. The following activities and benefits provide the basis for making Friday a productive day versus a waste of time:
- Activity: Plan out all your meetings for the upcoming week, schedule your conference rooms, and align your calendar with your to do list. Benefit: This sets you up for success on Monday and you now have a well thought out plan of attack for the week.
- Activity: Cleanup your email, file everything in folders, respond to any outstanding emails, and delete all the stuff you don’t need. I try to get it down to maybe a dozen messages in my inbox. Benefit: Again you are doing some pretty easy work, and when you come in on Monday you start with a clean inbox. This allows you to focus on the present and the future and not have to deal with unread emails from the previous week.
- Activity: Update your to do list or project schedules, adjusting due dates, adding tasks, and marking tasks complete. Benefit: Now instead of spending precious time next week you have a current to do list and project schedules. While this takes a bit of thought and planning it is not overly taxing.
- Activity: Last but not least plan out what you will do this weekend, if you are like me you have been so busy all week that you haven’t had time to think about what you want to accomplish this weekend. I use an app called Wunderlist for my personal to do list manager because it is simple and works on various devices like my notebook computer, chrome book, and my android phone. Benefit: Instead of ending the day and having no plans for the weekend you now have a pretty good idea of the things you would like to accomplish and planned some recreational time.
None of the above mentioned activities require a lot of brain power, but they all provide value and set the stage for a more productive upcoming week. Because we are generally low on energy, focus on the planning and cleanup activities if you can, and save the stuff that takes real effort for Monday through Thursday. We all need some time to reflect and plan; contrary to what you may think this investment will pay dividends over time. The trick is to take care of the critical things on Friday morning and then if possible devote the afternoon to these these planning and cleanup activities.
I realize this doesn’t apply to all roles and jobs, but there are an awful lot of occupations where this can work.
Have a great weekend, I need to start planning.
I would suspect that most of us go through phases in our lives where we have seemed to have lost our interest in what we do and much of the routine aspects of our existence. Maybe we are losing our mojo. Webster’s defines mojo as:
“a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.”
It would be nice if everyday was a big adventure, but for most of the world consists of rituals and a fair amount of work. After all we cannot all be Anthony Bourdain and travel the world-embracing new cultures and cuisines, or maybe we can. From my personal observations, it appears the vast majority of the modern world experiences this malaise and has lost their mojo. Some symptoms of lost mojo include:
- It is difficult to get out of bed in the morning and when you do you still feel tired
- Your productivity is suffering, you are beginning to feel like the guy in Office Space who only does 15 minutes of actual work each week
- The highs aren’t very high and the lows aren’t really that low anymore, you are stuck somewhere in the middle
- You are not interested in things that were pleasurable in the past
- You don’t feel good, even though you are exercising and eating well
Now you might want to go get a checkup from a physician just to make sure what you are experiencing isn’t due to some medical problem, but if you have a clean bill of health you will need to do something to regain the mojo you once possessed. Here are a few things to consider:
- Maybe you need to consider a career change to get fired up again. Being on a steep learning curve can release some of that hidden mojo.
- Start breaking some routines, even if it is simple things like when you workout and what type of exercise you are performing. Change from a 3 day split to a 5 day split, throw in some cardio (running, biking, walking, kayaking).
- If you can change-up your schedule, start work an hour later, or work at home a couple of days of week if possible.
- Do something for your state of mind like meditating, praying, inspirational reading, or walking.
- Take up a new hobby or re-discover the one you quit 10 years ago when your mojo was beginning to fade.
- Write down something you are grateful for everyday. Sometimes the malaise begins with a lack of appreciation.
- Take a vacation, which of course will allow time for a few of the things I mentioned above.
- Do at least one nice thing for another person everyday such as paying them a complement, holding a door, helping someone at work or at home. Remember you’re not the only one that has lost their mojo, and paying it forward can help you and someone else.
- Just say no, and maybe even drop some non value added commitments. It may be that you just have way too much on your plate and need to scale things back a bit at least for a while.
- Get in touch with your own thoughts. I mentioned meditation which helps me, but there are many ways to become more introspective such as journaling, blogging, writing poetry, spiritual practice, or just taking long walks.
Above all you need to jump off the hamster wheel for a bit and try to understand what is important to you. Your mojo is not gone, it is simply suppressed by routine and not caring for yourself. Do as many of the things above as you can during the course of the next few months and you will start to feel that magical power again.
I’ve posted a couple different times on how Monday is the ideal day to set a goal that you will work towards or maybe achieve depending of course on the nature of what you are seeking. My own score card is I have completed two of the three goals I set for myself. Instead of taking my own advice I set goals that were very difficult so 2 out of 3 is not so bad, and I have made some progress on the one that I cannot say I have completely mastered. This brings up another point about goal setting that we need to understand. It is vitally important that you set the goals so that you can begin to change your behavior, but realistically you will not always achieve them in the time frame you set for yourself. I’ve always liked the graphic below because it does a good job of simply depicting what really happens when we set a goal and work toward achieving it.
Sometimes reaching your goals and the resulting success this brings you is a messy process, so I wanted to make sure you cut yourself some slack during this whole process. I found myself questioning the order of goals I set for the 4 or 5 weeks, re-ordering them, and even eliminating some to better suite my true desires when it comes to work and my personal life. I’m sure you will do the same as you make adjustments as you think about what you really want to achieve. While it is true that we will all struggle to achieve our goals, it is no reason to hesitate to move forward. The very fact that you may find the goals you set difficult to achieve means that you have set worthy goals. Continue to have faith in yourself and your dreams. Don’t fall back into old patterns of behavior as every Monday brings with it a new start, a new goal, and change.
Last week I wrote about how you could make Monday a new start by setting just one goal that you will accomplish during the week. The idea is that these goals would accumulate and you would certainly be on the road to changing your behavior, and not falling into the trap of repeating the same old stuff. I have found myself as guilty as the next person in falling into patterns of behavior that don’t support my goals. For instance I ate well for two days in a row and then decided it was alright to eat that hamburger and fries, or I did two workouts from my three day split and failed to do the third on Saturday or Sunday, or instead of pursuing that business opportunity I failed to put out the effort and instead watched endless hours of television.
Yes we all need time to relax, but wasting your time in the evenings and on weekends is another example of falling into a pattern of behavior that leads to absolutely nothing. I’m not saying you should eliminate time with your friends and family because your goals are so overly important, but you should also not give into living everyone’s dream at the expense of your own. This is then about seeking some sort of balance, and yes making some sacrifices along the way.
While I mentioned the word balance I am not a big fan of the term work life balance, the insinuation is that work and life are some kind of different categories of activity and that balancing them is desirable. My view is do what you want to achieve your goals and if that means you need to work more than you relax then do it. Don’t fall prey to patterns of behavior that do not support your goals, but always make sure that the goal you set is what you really want. Sometimes you will need to change your goals or even eliminate some of them as they no longer represent what you really want. There are perfectly good reasons to abandon one goal and pursue another, but don’t let your dreams be replaced by mediocrity and settling for less than you are capable of.
Most of us operate at about 50%-75% of what we are capable of, settling for a comfortable existence when greater things are in your future if you are willing to put in the effort and fully utilize the gifts that each of us possesses. So make this Monday the day you begin to follow your dreams, set a new goal and just do it. Stole that little gem from Nike, sorry guys.