In the classic self-help book, The Power of Full Engagement, the authors provide a simple, three-question framework to determine how engaged you are with your work. Each question is scored on a scale of 1 to 10.
- How excited are you to get to work in the morning?
- How much do you enjoy what you do for its own sake rather than for what it gets you?
- How accountable do you hold yourself to a deeply held set of values?
Take a few moments to give this a shot yourself. If your score was 27 or higher, it’s likely you’re living with a strong sense of purpose. If your score was 22 or lower, you’re likely just going through the motions.
This simple framework can be a valuable checkpoint every month, quarter, or year to see if the work you’re doing is lighting up your creative energy. Work doesn’t have to be energy draining. It can be the exact opposite if we find the right type of work for each of us.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my career in jobs that didn’t fit my strengths or personality. Everyday felt like a struggle and I justified continuing to do the job in many different ways – financial, status, security, etc. Eventually it became very hard to even hear my authentic voice about what I truly enjoyed and felt like I was good at.
But the work that we choose to do might be the most important contribution we make in our lives. It’s a responsibility we owe to ourselves to find work that expresses our talents and creativity. It just takes an honest look at ourselves and the courage to step into the unknown.
After 45 years of research, Aldous Huxley had this profound wisdom to share on his deathbed:
It is embarrassing to tell you this, but it seems to come down mostly to just learning to be kind.Aldous Huxley
Kindness is a skill we develop over time. It’s difficult to be kind to yourself all the time. We’re often our worst critics. It’s easy to criticize ourselves about mistakes we’ve made or people we may have disappointed.
It’s also difficult to be kind to others when we can’t find the kindness within ourselves. That’s why it’s so important that we nurture kindness within ourselves first. And a big part of that is finding the space to forgive ourselves too.
None of us are perfect. We’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all been disappointed or even hurt by others. But if we can find a way to bring that hurt some kindness and compassion, we can show up as the person we want to become.
Psychologist, Rick Hanson, describes the brain as, “velcro for negative experiences, but teflon for positive ones.” There’s also good research that we need at least a 3:1 ratio of positive thoughts to neutralize negative thoughts.
I’d like to spend more time creating more positive and kind thoughts about myself. If our goal is to better not only ourselves but to serve others, it might be the most important thing we can do each day.
In the Part 3 of Between Two Therapists, Frank shared a particularly useful insight with me. He said he likes to view life, “as a series of experiments.”
Through his psychotherapy practice, Frank helps his clients design experiments in their lives to test our their deeply held beliefs and see if it shows up in reality. The experiments are opportunities for courage to step out of their regular habits and behaviours.
Of course, Frank makes sure the experiments aren’t beyond the capacity or readiness of his clients. They’re designed to be small experiments that slowly change the way his clients experience the world.
I love this concept because it’s exactly the way I want to view my life more as. When I view life as a series of experiments, I become less attached to the outcomes. I start to view life through the lens of childlike curiosity about what might happen if I do x, y, or z.
Of course, experiments should have parameters and should never be harmful to oneself or others. But there’s certainly more room in our lives to try experiments that bring more fun, creativity, and learning into our lives.