I was talking with a group of professionals recently and had an idea. I asked them to think about what’s important to them. I passed out paper and I gave them their assignment.
On list #1, I asked them to write down the things they value most in life. I challenged them to include the parts of their lives they are most passionate about, the strengths or loves that make them the unique soul that they are. I suggested they list the activities they may have dreamed about doing since they were children or projects they value that will help make the world a better place.
Then List #2 – I asked them to draw a line on their papers and begin listing items are currently on the top of their to-do list. I asked them to write down their hottest priorities, the things that wake them up at 2am, the tasks that take up most of their waking hours. I asked them to add what worries them most.
We then started discussing which list gets most of their energy and time.
- Do we put more time and attention into those tasks we truly value or is it work pressures or worries that takes more of our energy?
- Which the list is most important?
- Which the list includes the things that you wish to be identified with, recognized as being a part of?
As we wrapped up the discussion, we labeled our lists. List #1 we titled “the real me” and list #2 was labeled “the worker me”.
One of my passions is to explore, understand and experience as much happy energy as I can in life. I love to encourage others to pack a bit more happy into their worlds. As this discussion progressed, it didn’t take very long for most everyone in the group to have a clearer picture that their lives seemed out of balance, in that the factors that mean the most to each of them were not clear focal points in their daily lives.
I understand that we live in a world that requires us to work hard to earn money to afford food, housing, medical care and transportation. For some of us, getting those basics covered isn’t a great challenge. For some, we want WAY more than the basics, so we work harder and longer for a higher standard of living, a better neighborhood, more “goodies.” My challenge to this group was “are the things you are working longer and harder for in your first list? Or are you all working longer and harder out of habit?”
Sometimes the busy-ness gets to be a bit of a competition. Who’s at the office first? Who leaves last? Our employers will always ask more of us because in most corporations, it’s the bottom line that is of utmost importance. However, many successful businesses today have embraced the fact that happier, healthier team members often have the most important positive effect on the overall health of a business.
More thriving companies understand that their most valuable resource is their employees, their team players, their “work families.” Successful companies provide their employees with tools and time for self-care. They set up ways for their employees to share their dreams and aspirations in a supportive way. An atmosphere like this inspires employees to not lose track of their List #1 items and honors their dreams by giving them a venue to share their deep passions. By sharing this deeper part of their work team, people with shared interests connect and sometimes spontaneous joint ventures occur.
So, what is important to you? I hope you’ll take the time write up your own two lists. Then find a way to get a few of those most important items onto your priority list. If you don’t work for a company that encourages employees to find deep satisfaction in their lives, then you can find ways to do it on your own. Talking about your passions in networking gatherings or on social media might help you meet people interested in the same goals as you. Perhaps you’re the business owner and can see that it’s time for some positive changes in your corporate environment. Perhaps it’s even time for you to consider looking for a different job, career or business opportunity that will get your List #1 into the spotlight of your life.
Each of us is wonderfully unique. I believe that each person brings a spark of some very special work they are destined to do in their life. The world might be just waiting for this unique voice to speak up to help change the world for the better. I hope you don’t get so busy in your day-to-day tasks that those hope, dreams and special talents become all but forgotten. Maybe you and your family don’t need bigger and better stuff… maybe you need to take time to find more satisfaction, fulfillment and, of course, happiness!