I grew up striving for perfection.

I went all through school wishing for straight As so I could get into a good college and then get a good job. Why? Because then I would be happy. My whole life was geared to having that amazing job opportunity so I could realize my dreams. That’s how the permanent work lens found it’s place in  my mind. 

Looking back, having such a strong work lens on your life is suffocating. It can put you in a tiny little box only seeing how the perceived outside world relates back to work. Once you learn how to step beyond it and change your mind, you instantly feel a sense of freedom and your world becomes bigger. 

This work thinking is a habit of your mind. Once you recognize it, you’re already going beyond the habit. You’ve created an opening, a space, to allow other views and perspectives to come in. With these, you free yourself to pursue a mindset that will really make you happy. 

4 Solid Steps to Go Beyond Work Thinking Mind

1. Notice You’re Doing It – Name It

Observe. Simply observe. No judgment. Are you feeling restless like all you’re sharing about is work? Do you go home at night and think about work a lot of the time? When you’re with your friends or family, is work persistently in the back of your mind?

If you answered yes to any of these, stop the next time it happens. Call it out. And, be aware a lot of other experiences will give you clues that you’ve got a strong work filter.

2. Create Different Perspectives 

Once you realize what’s happening, take the decision to look at your life through different lenses. Some ways you can do this are by creating wheels. A wheel is something you draw on a piece of paper. It’s a round circle where you make eight separate pieces. Here’s an easy example to follow. I highly encourage you to create a values wheel.

A value is something you believe to be important in the way you live and work. Your values naturally determine your priorities. Pick the top 8 values in your life and map them out on your wheel. As an example, your eight values could include compassion, wisdom, curiosity, courage, joy, honesty, and so on. 

3. Select a New Lens

Once you’ve got your wheel done, close your eyes and put your finger on your wheel. Say your finger lands on joy. Imagine the next few experiences of your day from the perspective of joy. Take yourself deep into your joyful mindset.

When you come from a place of joyful thinking, what new, positive thoughts arise? What are you saying to yourself? Which kind of conversations would you love to have? How does joy show up in the day? Who would you spend time with? 

Keep going back to it again and again. Whatever issue, question, conversation occurs, think from the perspective of that value. And then see – how does that open up your way of thinking? 

4. Practice New Thinking Daily 

You can stick with one lens or try out a few. The key is to keep this up in small ways on a daily basis. Maybe you isolate your lunch time. You tell yourself you’re only going to think from this lens for the first 15 minutes of your lunch break. 

I’d encourage you to try this right away. Find a quiet time an evening this week and find your new perspective to try out. Then, the following day, apply it.

Even for a work problem you can use it. Say you have to give a performance review, ask yourself – how can I view this situation from the lens of joy? 

I’d love for you to share in the comments what value you picked and how it felt to use it this way. Have fun. And, if you can, draw out some of your thoughts because it’ll shake things up in your mind.

I can imagine other people you know may love a new perspective to this common problem. Please share the love.