Do Work That Fulfils You
I do a lot of work with people on how to develop consistent habits and how to do more of what they consider their ‘important’ work. It’s so easy to be distracted by the buzz of the internet and the whirl of social media. Or just the ‘everyday’ things we do at home and for family and friends.
What I notice though, is that it’s not enough just to make the time to do work that we think we want to do. There are more pieces than that and one of those pieces is doing work that fulfils us.
Whether we call this being in the flow, whether we call it working to our strengths, or being in our ‘genius zone’, there is a component of creating work that matters that is about the nature of the work itself.
It’s easy to create a little momentum around anything — a New Year habit of going to the gym, a commitment to write every morning. But we are only inspired to stay in that work if we are getting an intrinsic reward from it — if it is something that makes us feel good when we are doing it.
In his book ‘Flow’, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about ‘flow’ like this: “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.”
In simple terms, when we do work that stretches us enough so that we are challenged, but does not stretch us too far so that we become stressed, that is where we find our flow. It’s still not enough though…
In theory, we could find flow in anything we do — from gardening to writing to public speaking — so long as we start at the skill level that is at the upper limit of where we are.
But, for me to find **meaning** in what I do, I need to focus on work that is in my zone of genius, and that serves my values. I will only ever be an ‘ordinary’ gardener, or tennis player, or video technician. Sure I could find flow, and hence enjoyment, in pretty much anything, but I don’t think it is adding value to the world.
I believe if we know our values, and we align the work we do with them day in day out, then we will be happier, more inspired, and we will be doing work that matters to us. And that is how we make a difference in the world. Go make your difference!