Job = Lifestyle vs. Lifestyle = Job
Walk through your day-to-day operating procedure in your mind in the context of happiness; are you happy? No, seriously… think about it. Are you?
Do you shape your life around your job or do you shape your job around your life? You can answer honestly, your boss can’t read your mind… yet.
If the answer to the initial question was yes, you’re happy, that’s great! Could you adjust the equation of things that make up what you have going on in life to make you even happier? Probably. If the answer to the first question was a resounding “no”, let’s aim to figure out why.
Take inventory of how you spend your time. Are there things you could eliminate from your day-to-day? Do it. If it’s not an obligation, use the “hell yes vs. no” strategy. Your friends ask you to join them for dinner on Thursday, but you have an important meeting on Friday morning and you’d rather run after work and go to bed early instead of go out on Thursday. If your answer to dinner isn’t a Hell Yes! its a no.
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Didn’t exercise today? Ate a bunch of junk food? Didn’t get enough sleep? Drank too much alcohol? Watched too much Netflix? Didn’t answer all of your emails?
Wallowing in your negatives won’t make them better, and it will prevent you from using that brain space to come up with actionable steps to improve them.
Focus on the trend line. If your overall practices contribute to a positive trend line, you’re in good shape. Cut yourself some slack, too, by the way. If the trend line isn’t where you want it to be, start with slow, measurable change. Focus on one thing that you want to improve and then make a realistic plan on how to do it. So you want to exercise more. Start with one or two days a week. Want to watch less Netflix? If you watch Netflix at night before bed, try reading one night per week instead of watching Netflix (or insert other activity you like instead. Draw, play the guitar, write, play a board game with friends etc…) Those small changes will increase your trend line if you keep up with them. Be sure to tell yourself “good job” for the things you do well, too.
The trend line measurement tool applies to this axiom too: “If you like what you do, you won’t work a day in your life”. Great sentiment, but somewhat unrealistic. Work is unavoidable. If the “grunt work” contributes in part to an overall positive trend line of happiness, then count that as a win.
Is not loving your job ok? That answer may differ. If your job affords you a lifestyle you love, is it worth it to YOU?
Maybe you work a nine-to-five at a desk in an office. Your work is challenging, but rewarding. Its not your favorite, but it pays the bills. You enjoy your coworkers and you have room to grow at your company. Your nine-to-five allows you to comfortably afford to travel, go to concerts or events you like, work out at lunch in the gym at your office, and have time on weeknights to play trivia at your favorite bar.
This equation might work for YOU. Does it give you a life that you’re happy with? If yes, great!
If no, adjust your equation.
Maybe it means getting a new job! Maybe sitting at a desk isn’t your thing. Maybe you love painting. You might not be able to afford to paint full time right now, so you’ll have to work a job you don’t necessarily love so you can paint in your free time until you can afford to do it full time.
Maybe you love serving or bartending because it lets you interact with people. Great! Build your lifestyle around that.
Maybe you love skiing, and being in the mountains all day makes you happy. Work at a ski resort!
Everyone’s equation is different. You’re the only one who can change yours. If you remove the “but I’m supposed to”, what would you actually want to do?
Go do it.