You may have a work life you love. In that case well done! You can skip this post and go onto the next one. However if you find yourself with the creeping anxiety, ‘there must be more to life than this”, or just looming deflation on Sunday evening about Monday morning, read on.
Six months ago I was getting Sundayitis on a Friday evening. I decided life was too short to be living for weekends, annual leave and loving May because it has three bank holidays in it. I had a successful, management job in the city, an amazing network of friends and went abroad for trips three or four times a year. But none of that eased the sheer agonising dullness of my work-a-day week.
I knew I was deeply dissatisfied and the hardest thing I needed to do was to work out what it would be that would make me happy. Here are six steps I used. An Enjoyment Audit was what I called it. They are silly-simple, but they work. They certainly did for me.
Note – these are mainly list based, because I am built that way (if I do something off list, I add it on to the bottom and cross it off). But mind-maps, pictures, sketches or whatever makes sense to you would all work.
- Write a list of all the things you would do if you won the lottery; clear your desk, put on our favourite inspiring music, turn off the phone and go crazy. Don’t self-edit – just brainstorm.
- Write a list of things to do if you had six months to live. See the instructions above and apply.
- Compare the lists side by side.
- List one should sum up what you would do if money were not an issue.
- List two defines that which is important to you when there is a lack of time (and there is never enough time!). It should weed out all those day-to-day things we think we “ought” to do, that don’t necessarily add value to our lives.
- Look for the correlations – travel, reading, crafting, learning, spending time with your family? This will leave you with a list of what is important to you. This is your Love My Life List.
- Next leave behind that mind-set that these are things to do once you have the day-to-day business of living done. You can’t just live for weekends or retirement. Having worked out what makes you tick, now is time to decide you deserve to have these things make up the bulk of your life. This is possibly the hardest step, as it will go against most of what you have always been told to do... work hard now and you will get what you want when you retire/find a husband/die and go to heaven. Personally I’d rather enjoy what I do right now than take a punt on the unknown future.
- Now look at your day to day life. Work. Hobbies. Weekends. Trips. Drudgeries. How much of this matches up to what is on your Love my Life list? How much of what you do right now makes your heart sing. Ask your nearest and dearest for their thoughts of when you are happiest and what you do best. This can shed an interesting light on things.
- Set out five things you can do in the next week to shift away from the things that drag you down and let you do more of what you love.
- Get someone else to take them on: Your hated tasks (balancing the books) can very well hit someone’s satisfaction list. Cajole, swap and negotiate your way around these.
- Get rid of them: Do they really need to be done? What happens in six month’s time if they are not? Some things matter – taxes won’t go away. Something’s don’t – no one will die if you don’t alphabetically order your CD shelf.
- Prioritise the things you love. Offer to take on new projects that involve them. Develop them. Practise them. Let people know you love cooking and will cater for their dinner party for a reasonable price or skill swap. Start that adult ballet class. The more you do of what you love, the more you love.
- Add a new five each week until you feel you have the right balance.
Going it alone is the next stage, not one that may suit most, and entire story for another day. However doing a enjoyment audit is a very good place to start and my Love My Life List reminds me of what is important on those Monday mornings.