Work is a purpose, not a place. Work is about productively applying your talent.
When you arrive home tonight, ask yourself three questions:
- Did you spend most of your day doing meaningful work?
- Did you fill your day with positive interactions with your colleagues, family and friends?
- And, finally, did you sustain a high level of energy from morning until you left the office?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, you’re likely ending the day with a full charge that will be carried over into tomorrow. This is wonderful news for you and your employer.
“When you are fully charged, you get more done,” says Tom Rath, researcher and author of Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. “You have better interactions. Your mind is sharp and your body is strong. On days when you are fully charged, you experience high levels of engagement and well-being.”
Rather uses sound and insightful research to provide well-written guidance on how to energize your life without feeling like you have to recreate it. And rather than offering a complicated formula, Rath’s book gives numerous digestible nuggets. You can find something useful even without reading each page from beginning to end.
Rath begins by orienting the reader to what he calls, “the science of daily experience.” Through something called the experience sampling method — a way that researchers ask participants to make notes of their experiences throughout the day about what is happening right then — he helps us realize that much of what we think will lead to happiness simply does not.
What can lead to happiness, Rath explains, are meaning, interactions and energy. “You don’t have to go on a retreat in the woods to find meaning,” he begins, “you don’t need to find new friends at a cocktail party to have better interactions, and you certainly don’t need to run a marathon or embark on a fad diet to create physical energy.”
Start approaching work as a purpose rather than a place and find a calling that’s higher than cash. Be leery of anyone who tries to push towards the pursuit of happiness and tells you to follow your passion. The first step is to ask yourself what the world needs. “Those who make a profound difference begin by asking what they can give,” says Rath. “Starting with this question allows you to direct your talents toward what matters most for others.”
Rath offers simple ways to find meaning at work by introducing us to those who have done it, demonstrating how they made work “a purpose and not a place” and found higher callings. Purpose-driven workers thought beyond just cash, avoided upward social comparisons and asked what might help the rest of the world. “Look for ways that your unique talents, background, expertise, dreams, and desires can serve some of these local and global needs,” Rath writes.
“You have a limited number of days to make a difference,” Rath continues. “Embrace the fact that you need to infuse a lot of good into this world while you can. You have the opportunity to decide how you will spend your time. Start with work that creates meaning. Invest in each interaction to strengthen your relationships. Make sure you have the energy you need to be your best.”
Rath’s book will help you with an analysis of where you are and where you can make small changes to get fully charged. The best time to start: today. Life is too short to waste a minute.