I can tell you exactly what doesn’t lead me to an inspired work day.
Starting my real work at 6pm and letting the rest of my day get run over by meetings and obsessive email checking.
This was my reality for most of my career and went into overdrive in India. I’ll never forget the first few weeks there when my inbox was flooded with requests for pencils to hundreds of thousands of dollars for technology.
And there was my calendar.
It was like a hurricane of meetings that quite literally made me feel angry when I looked at it. That’s not a proud thing to admit but it’s the truth. I was angry at myself for not setting limits and angry that other people were so pushy with getting my time.
As my own boss now, I value deeply setting kind work hours for yourself and being ok with letting people down. Because you can’t please everyone and you definitely are doing nothing for others when you secretly feel angry with them for taking your time.
This is what I totally missed.
You’ve got to be clear on what the purpose of your day is and make sure it aligns with what you find meaningful. This is the only way you’ll start taking inspired action which feels a lot easier and is more productive at the same time.
You also have to get comfortable with truly cherishing other people. Sometimes saying no is the biggest kindness you can do.
Many people in this situation might force harsh limits on themselves.
I must do this, should do that, will never do that…which winds up in them feeling guilty which again leads back to anger. Being a pusher like this does not help you.
Rather than being harsh with yourself (only saying this as this was my strategy) try being creative.
A Creative Practice to be Inspired by Your Work Day
1. Name the Qualities You’d Express
Pause on scheduling out the exact activities and times you’d do things. Take a different angle. Ask yourself what qualities would you express if you were feeling totally inspired during your work day. As an example, a few qualities I strive to express are calm, grace, leadership, wisdom, and joy.
2. Step into Experiencing an Inspired Work Day
Now, start to imagine how someone who has those qualities would experience an inspired work day. What would she be seeing around her? saying to herself? doing?
I’d encourage you to set aside 15 minutes (perhaps one of those spaces between meetings) to really go deeper into this vs. getting lost in your email. Here’s a fun way to take notes that’ll throw your conventional thinking habits upside down.
3. Ask Yourself Two Questions
Take a step back from what you put together and ask yourself these two questions.
- Who can help you to bring this experience into reality? For example, a mentor, a coach, a role model.
- What beliefs are holding you back from making this your everyday experience (i.e. the excuses we tell ourselves to rationalize when we feel overwhelmed)?
If being inspired in your work day is important to you, do this and let go of the status quo. Merely, reading through these steps and contemplating is already a step forward. How effortless is that?
Have fun and sketch things out. Everything in life doesn’t have to be so serious.
So, my ask is take 5 minutes today to read, absorb, and then print out the fun note page. Just look at it and write for 2 minutes what comes to your mind. Then, put it down.
I’d love to hear what you’d be saying to yourself when you’re inspired during your work day (if you’re willing to share).