If you have a day-to-day life that works for you, you pretty much win the game of life. Big time. And the first step in getting a day-to-day life that works for you is getting clear on what that life looks like.
What does it mean to have a day-to-day life that works for you?
A day-to-day life that works for you is filled with activities that you enjoy that are in service of things you value.
If you have a business, you believe in what you’re doing and you like most or all of the tasks involved in running it.
These two components are quite different and aren’t necessarily connected. A person may passionately believe in the environmental cause to which a non-profit is dedicated. But she may hate her job at the non-profit because it involves knocking on doors to get donations, which makes her very uncomfortable. Or a person may like shmoozing with people but feel her job as a drug rep is morally problematic.
The power of self-knowledge
All knowledge is powerful.
In the negotiation workshop I took in law school, we’d prepare for a negotiation by understanding not only our own positions, but also the positions of the people with whom we were negotiating as well as anyone else who may be affected by our negotiation. The more you understand a situation, the better you can deal with it.
But clarity about yourself is of prime importance.
When you’re clear about:
- what you truly want and
- what activities you enjoy truly enjoy
then you can set up your life so it works for you. So it flows naturally and easily. Much of the struggle we have in life comes from trying to force ourselves to do things we don’t really enjoy to achieve goals that we don’t really care about.
Trying to work on something you don’t care about
I’ve seen two scenarios over and over again. In the first, a person says something like, “I’d like your help with my business. I’m completely stuck. My ‘to do’ list is a mile long, but I can’t seem to make myself do a thing on it.” After some exploration, we usually discover that he’s trying to make himself do something that, deep down, he doesn’t really care about all that much. After he understands what’s going on, he can begin the process of letting go of the project and finding a project he really enjoys.
When he’s clear about what projects are truly in his heart, he doesn’t have to struggle with motivation. He’ll have natural energy and enthusiasm for it.
Trying to get yourself to do something you dislike doing
The other scenario that comes up involves people who truly care about their projects, but they’re using approaches that don’t work for them.
“Laura,” a sweet client says to me, “I keep wanting to go to networking events to drum up clients for my business, but I have some sort of resistance about going. Will you help me make myself go to some meetings?”
That’s not something to which I’d agree automatically. A request like that means that it’s time for us to explore the situation. Are there other options for achieving the same goal that she may enjoy? Can we find ways to make going to networking meetings more enjoyable for her?
If at all possible, I’d want to find an approach that works for her, so she doesn’t have to struggle and force herself to do things she doesn’t want to do.
Bottom line: the importance of clarity about yourself
Fighting yourself, trying to force yourself to do something you don’t care about or enjoy doing, is a huge waste of energy. Even if you succed at forcing yourself, you’re not likely to get the results you want. And you have to keep forcing yourself, which is difficult to sustain in the long run.
You can avoid all that if you take the time up front to get clear. To figure out what you really want. To think about what activities you enjoy. And craft a plan for which you’ll have natural enthusiasm and talent.
Getting clear is a delicate process, not something you can force. Next, we’ll look at the important question: how do you learn about yourself?