In the book “Flow” written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he explains about several experiments around flow at work and during leisure time.
People in a reasonably challenging job, like most of today’s “information workers” and managers at any level, indicate that they regularly experience flow at work. A lot of these people spend a lot of their own time on watching TV and report that they experience flow a lot less during leisure time. Yet when they very often indicate that they would rather be spending time in front of the TV, feeling low, than at work, being quite happy and in the flow. The main reason for this is that we feel that we didn’t choose to work and in many cases, we don’t get to choose what we do when at work. Where as in our spare time, we at least get to make the choice to be miserable in front of the TV ourselves.
I don’t have any problem believing the results of this experiment, but the outcome is of course remarkable. It suggests that we could feel a lot happier, if we would be able to look at work differently.
Today, for many people, work is something that has to be done to be able to afford living, but they feel that work is really just getting in the way of their life and the goals they want to achieve.
What if we could align some of our personal goals, with what we are doing at work?
How easy this is depends both on your goals and your job of course. But as an example:
One of my goals is to be more open towards other people and forge more meaningful connections. I can integrate this into my job, by making sure that go into conversations open-minded and that I stay in the moment when I’m talking to people at work, whether that’s customers or colleagues. This will give me a chance to work on my goal, and as a bonus will most likely also make the other person feel good about the conversation as well.
The good news is that, as humans, we have the ability to control how we look at the world around us and we can (learn to) control our reaction to it. So, the next time someone asks if I have fifteen minutes to talk them I can see this as an opportunity to grow and to get closer to my goal, rather than as yet another distraction from the task that I was trying to complete. I can not only change my response to the same situation, but I can also change how I feel about the situation. I would feel in control, rather than being overwhelmed and I would be happier.
Do you have similar opportunities to work on a life goal while at work and feel more in control and happier because of it?