5 THINGS YOU MUST HAVE IF YOU DON’T WANT YOUR WORK TO FEEL LIKE WORK.

Chances are if you’re looking to build a lifestyle biz you’ve already experienced what it’s like to work for someone else. You’ve experienced feeling stuck. You’ve experienced feeling trapped. You’ve experienced the painful clock-watching until the day is over as your life wastes away before your eyes and you ask yourself “is this all there is???” No. It doesn’t have to be this way. Life can and should feel GOOD, but you have to take the reigns and design it that way.

How do you do it?

A very wise man once told me, “Don’t get good at something you don’t want to do.” He was joking, but I took it to heart. To me it made perfect sense.

Why would you waste your precious, super valuable, non-renewable resource, time, on something that you don’t want to do?

I always knew there was a way to have my gluten free cake and eat it too.

It took me some time and several jobs to figure it out, but I’ve found that when I am feeling the following 5 points in my work, I don’t feel like I’m working. Because this is the best and most beautiful feeling EVER, I thought you should know.

#1 A GENUINE LOVE FOR WHAT YOU DO.

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. If you catch yourself saying I don’t “mind” doing this, I’m just really good at it or it’s not so bad, at least I blah… blah… blah…, that’s not love my friend.

When you truly love what you do, you would do it anyway.

You DO do it anyway even if you’re working another job. Or maybe you did it as a kid and you’re still dreaming about doing it, but feel like you can’t do it now. (you can.)

True love means you would do it regardless of getting paid or having to meet deadlines.

If you get annoyed at your work because it takes time away from something you’d rather be doing, that’s a BIG ASS sign that you’re not doing what you love.

Another way to tell is if you’re in a state of “flow”.

Flow meaning time stops, it has your full attention and you lose yourself. It’s effortless and enjoyable. It doesn’t feel like WORK and you never feel like you want to escape from it.

Even when it gets hard, you still love doing it.

If you don’t already know it, figuring it out tends to cause a lot of angst and frustration. But I guarantee you, if you pay attention, it’s already there. You just have to find it.

#2 VALUE CLARITY

How is what you’re doing adding value to the world? When you realize how you’re contributing to society or helping others your fulfillment factor goes up.

Higher fulfillment = MORE happiness.

It’s easy to see how someone who runs a non-profit is contributing or how a doctor or a coach is helping others, but everyone contributes by doing what they love. An artist or musician is adding value by giving us things to see and hear. Their work triggers emotions and makes our lives richer, priceless. An accountant helps with something I personally hate to do, math. They are HIGHLY valuable to me. A professional organizer creates value for her peeps who feel tense and overwhelmed by clutter.

It’s not always obvious at first, but I promise you if you’re doing what keeps you in a state of flow, it’s benefitting us and the planet some how.

Even if it’s just you being happy. You’re omitting positive energy when you’re happy, which is contagious and that, in itself, is valuable.

If you can’t figure out how what you love to do adds value tell me in the comments below and we’ll sort it out together right here, right now.

#3 SELF EXPRESSION

I never understood why some people “try” so hard to be different. I’ve always felt that trying to be different automatically stripped you of your own uniqueness that is you. If everyone is just themselves we are all different by default.

In whatever it is you choose to do, in order to be happy doing it, you need to feel like you.

You need to feel like you can speak your mind, you need to feel that your opinions matter. You should be able to wear whatever you want to wear, say whatever you want to say and do things in a way that feels authentic to you. There is no faster way to misery than trying force yourself into someone else’s idea of what or who you should be. Whether it’s your parents, your boss, your friends or even your paying customers. Especially your paying customers! You need to be free to be you.

#4 KNOW YOUR WORKING STYLE

An understanding of how you like to work and how you work best are KEY to enjoying what you do.

Work with your body’s natural rhythm. Get your head out of the old 9-5 paradigm and pay attention to what feels good for YOU.

Humans are most productive in 45-90 minute chunks of time. Our productivity drops off after 90 if we don’t take a break. Knowing that, why not rework your schedule. Don’t try to force it.

For example, I am most creative and inspired when I first wake up. I like to be alone and I plan to do my creative work at this time. In the afternoon my creative energy drops and I prefer to meet with clients or have interactions with people at that time.

There is no “right” way of working and you will be most productive if you follow what your body and brain naturally want to do.

If you know you like to play on Facebook around 3 PM every day, let yourself off the hook and stop trying to plan to do something “productive” at that time.

If you don’t make these allowances, you’re still going to play on Facebook, but then you feel guilty and berate yourself for not accomplishing enough. Make it a legitimate part of your work day.

#5 A WILLINGNESS TO FUCK UP.

When you stop trying to be so damn perfect in your work a  HUUUUUGE weight is lifted.  I know this because I’m a reformed perfectionista.

When you try to make things perfect you actually take yourself out of the flow state that feels so good. When that happens your work quickly begins to feel like “WORK”.

Look at messing up as part of your path to success.

You can’t learn without making mistakes. You’re going to screw up once in a while. If you don’t you won’t be challenged and you definitely won’t be learning anything new. That will take you straight down to boredom-town. Kiss of death.

Screwing up keeps you fresh and entertained. Get yourself used to it, practice it if you have to, make it fun. It’s all part of finding your own unique way. Some of the best ideas come out of making mistakes. I call them happy accidents.

The only way you can fail, is if you stop trying and give up.

So what about you?

Are you missing any of the above 5? If so, it doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re doing is wrong, you may just have to do a little internal or external shifting to make it happen.

Do you have all 5 checked off? Or maybe there is something you want to add?

Tell me all about it in the comments below!

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  1. Chris

    I really love #1, Genuine Love For What You Do, even though you are right on target with all 5 points! Thanks, Chrissy

    Reply
  2. Stephanie

    Hi Susan,

    I have a terrible fear of failure which in turn makes me not try things or go for things that I may not be good at.
    How do I “practice” making mistakes and feeling ok with the failure??

    Reply
    1. Susan

      GREAT question! The only way to practice is to put yourself out there. You will stumble eventually because no one has a straight and perfect road to success. If you did it wouldn’t feel like success it would feel about as gratifying as tying your shoe.

      Start small with a low risk baby step. Then add another and then another. When you mess up, just try again. If it’s a low stakes mess up it’s less painful than a high stakes one. The more you mess up, the more comfortable with messing up you become and then it doesn’t even feel like messing up after a while!

      And please note, messing up is not the same as failing.

      The road to success is all about trial and error. It’s like driving without a map. You have to figure out how to get to your destination on your own, if you make a wrong turn you just turn around. Turning around doesn’t make you a failure. Pulling over to the side of the road, turning off the car and giving up on getting to your destination would.

      Reply
  3. nikki

    “When you stop trying to be so damn perfect in your work a  HUUUUUGE weight is lifted.” Oh! This is so tweetable.

    I’m also feeling my way towards a productive flow.

    Reply
  4. Olya

    Thank you for yet another great post, Susan!
    I think now I can tick all 5 boxes.
    Tip number 5 is great (especially the way you phrased it :))
    I think for quite a while I couldn’t quite get there. Then I heard this: Successful people fail far more often than most people because they are doing something that other people haven’t even tried.
    (or something along these lines). And that helped me to move on.
    Thanks again

    Reply
  5. Melanie

    #2 and #4 are the most important for me. They have changed the way I do business and how I do it. It fits me and my purpose.

    Great article! I can’t wait to read what comes next!

    Reply
  6. Sabrina at MyMiBoSo

    I love how you keep coming back to this “state of flow” – everything is energy, and the more in tune we become with our own, the more we can create a life that is not only fulfilling but also pretty joyful too.

    On the flipside, sometimes we do work that we don’t love because we’re able to pull back and see how IT flows into the bigger picture – so as long as the big picture is a source of love, the other bits and pieces fall into place more easily.

    Reply
  7. farah

    This is great, thank you. Love all 5 points, I guess in the multi-media world of today, comparisonitus is a huge thing, and keeping up so number 3 was the one that nudged me most. Thank you!!

    Reply
  8. Tova

    Awesome post Susan! I love all 5 of your tips. Especially the love one 🙂 Love what you do, as if you’d do it anyways…that’s what art is all about 🙂 And I feel its how to gauge if you’re on track with the right project
    Thanks for a great post

    Reply
  9. Nathalie

    Hi Susan! This is a great post and I am so proud to say that I am actually already doing all the things you mention. This has not always been the case and it is incredibly reassuring to see how far I have come. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  10. Court

    This list is great! I especially love #4! That has been the best change for me and also the biggest learning curve in transitioning to working for and by myself. Really good considerations. Also, I feel like I’m pretty willing to #5 about every day : ) and then I just keep on going’!!! Thanks for the good hearted reminder.

    Reply

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