“Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do, it is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.” – Zig Ziglar

Can You Really Love Your Work?

It seems everywhere I turn I see the same statistic. Over 70% of the employees dislike their jobs and find them unfulfilling.

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We might come to the conclusion that most of us will have to endure our work as a means to an end, like paying bills or making it to the weekend, even if it lacks fulfillment and meaning.

The market place is certainly changing. In his book, “48 Days to the Work You Love” Dan Miller writes that

  • the average person will have over 10 jobs between the ages of 18 & 42
  • the average length of a job in America is 2.2 years
  • the average length of a job for someone in their 20’s is 13 months.

A Forbes article titled, “Job Hopping is the New Normal for Millennials” suggests the average job tenure is decreasing and that moving from job to job, once seen as detrimental to one’s career is now common place. What use to be seen as a character flaw, (Why can’t you keep a job) is now viewed as normal.

The Canadian market is no different. According to Workopolis:

  • 51 per cent of people now stay in any one role for under two years.
  • 30 per cent of people stay in any one job for over four years.
  • Gen Xers, worked an average of 3.2 jobs in the first 12 years of their career, staying approximately 3.4 years in each job.
  • Generation Y, held 3.9 jobs over their first 12 years on the job market, with a shorter tenure of 2.7 years in each job.
  • If the current trend continues, Canadians can expect to hold roughly 15 jobs in their careers.

In essence then, almost everyone who is working, is looking for work. Think about it. If people are changing jobs every 2-4 years, they are likely actively searching for the next job almost right away. Most of the people you work with are likely engaged at some level of job search. 

All this is not to suggest that these changes in the workforce is a direct correlation with job dissatisfaction. But if 70% of the workforce is unhappy in their current work, is there anything that can be done to change that statistic?

Maybe the question is more pressing than we realize. According to the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention more people die at 9am Monday morning than any other time of the week. Is there a direct link between the stress and dissatisfaction levels at work and the mortality rate?

What if you could find work you love? What if it were possible? And what if it was the right thing to pursue?

What Is Your Bent?

A popular proverb typically understood in the context of parenting says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not stray from it.” (Prov 22:6) To properly understand this verse, we should see this as a mandate for parents to understand their children, their personalities, gifts, strengths and passions and guide them toward living them out.

Dan Miller suggests that this process shouldn’t end when children leave the home, but that adults should continue to pursue meaningful work based on how God has designed them. In the area of career choices, gaining confidence will come from looking within, understanding who we are, our personalities, passions, desires and abilities.

When you begin to understand how you are designed, then you can begin to answer questions like:

Q. What do I really love to do? When I do it, time seems to stand still.

Q. How can my personality, gifts and strengths, passions & dreams contribute to the lives of others.

Q. What do others see me and encourage me to do?

Q. If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

Q. Do you think it’s possible to love your work? Why or why not?

Big Goals for 2016? Be Sure to Avoid This

Last week we looked at one thing we need to do, to accomplish our goals this year…getting adequate sleep? Today, I want to talk about one thing that you need to avoid in order to reach your goals.

When Kathy and I lived in Hamilton, we would regularly go for a run along the escarpment. Our usual route included two sets of stairs. We would go down one set of stairs, then run along the path until we came to the next set. We would then proceed up the stairs then return to where we started.

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The first challenge was that there were 325 stairs at each set. Yes we counted them; we wanted to know what we were up against. The second challenge was, we didn’t know if we could actually do it. Going down wasn’t so bad but going up seemed overwhelming, especially the first few tries.

The Problem

When we stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked to the top…well, let’s just say it seemed like an enormous task. Could we do it? What happens if we get halfway and can’t go any further. What if I lose my lunch (we weren’t the only ones there) how embarrassing would that be? What happens if my heart gives out…how in shape will the paramedics be who have to rescue me from this mountainside? I think you get the picture.

The Solution

As long as we concentrated on the top of the stairs, our ultimate goal, we struggled to believe we would be able to do it. But soon we learned that the only way to conquer those stairs was to focus on the first one. One step…that’s it…one step is easy…then the second, then third and so on. As long as we focused on the top, we would be in trouble. But concentrating on the steps we needed to take along the way, made all the difference.

I bet you have people telling to review your goals regularly; perhaps read them every morning and tell the world what you’re going to accomplish. I think this is bad advice.

I love college football and Alabama who just won the national championship is my favorite team. But here’s the deal. I’ve never met the coaching staff but I’m confident of this. In training camp, they may have talked about winning a national championship, but throughout the season the staff and players focused on things like practice schedules, watching film, workout routines, curfews, etc. Sure their goal may have been a championship, but what they spent their time focusing on was the daily habits that would get them there.

If have big goals, stop focusing on them. If you want to achieve big goals this year, and I hope you do, then there is something that you will have to do that seems counter productive. Instead of keeping your goals front and centre, focus your attention, energy and time on the incremental steps you will need to take to reach them.

  • You want to lose 20 pounds? Stop focusing on that and plan your meals for today
  • Want to write a best-selling novel? Stop thinking about the book and write a paragraph
  • Want to grow your business by 20% this year? Stop focusing on the goal and make your next contact.
  • Want to save 3 months of expenses for an emergency fund? Make your first deposit.

Listen, focusing on our goals and constantly reminding ourselves of how far we have to go, can lead to discouragement. It’s demoralizing and can keep us from making any progress at all. When discouragement sets in, we can find almost anything else to do except what will move us one step closer to achieving all we want to achieve. We may actually just do nothing at all.

Instead of reviewing your goals daily, take the next step necessary to reach your goal.

Kathy and I did make it to the top of the mountain. Yes, we were huffing and puffing and our legs burned but it was invigorating and satisfying. And we did it by focusing on each step, rather than the end goal.

You have big goals for this year. Great! Now stop focusing on them. Instead, write down 3 steps you can take today toward your goal.

Q. What action steps will you take today?

Have Big Goals for 2016? Be Sure to do This

While working my first job as a teenager, I had a boss who proudly boasted that he lived on 2 hours sleep every night. As a young person who had no trouble sleeping all morning if I had the chance, I thought this was bizarre behaviour, and yet I was impressed that he ran a thriving restaurant on so little sleep.

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But it wasn’t long before I started seeing changes in my boss; to the point where he would miss shifts and eventually was gone altogether. I learned later that he had a nervous breakdown and spent extended time in the hospital before having to sell the business.

No one can survive, let alone thrive on 2 hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, I know this from my own personal experience too.

Growing up and well into my adult years, I never struggled with sleep. I almost always slept through the night…no problem. But then in 2003, everything changed, dramatically. “All of a sudden” I could not sleep. Everyday for 3 months I went through the same nightly battle and would lay awake until 5am, then doze off only to be rudely awakened by my alarm at 7am.

It was brutal. In many ways, the worst time of my life. I was serving in the local church and in a private counselling practice at the time and I struggled to function at the most basic level and I’m sure it must have shown. I felt like a zombie going through the motions. I tried everything short of prescription drugs to sleep. Various natural remedies (that didn’t remedy anything) over the counter sleep aids, a sleep clinic; I even went to an iridologist. A friend suggested it. I didn’t even know what an iridologist was! Who knew that you could learn so much about the body by looking at our iris? But it didn’t help…nothing changed and I was becoming even more desperate.

I can assure you, it is impossible to thrive on two hours a night. But you already knew that.

But most of us can’t thrive on 6 hours either. I read recently that the national average is just under 7 hours, but I think it’s much less than that. Going to bed at 11pm and getting up at 6am doesn’t equal 7 hours sleep as it takes most people at least 15-20 minutes to get to finally doze off.

Here’s my point. You may have set goals for this year and you want to accomplish a lot. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, if you want to achieve all you set out to do, then you need to sleep more.

Sleeping more = accomplishing more

There are a multitude of benefits from proper rest; here are just a few that go beyond boosting your mood or removing the circles under your eyes. Better sleep leads to…

  • Greater creativity
  • Improved memory
  • Longer attention spans
  • Better grades
  • Greater energy
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced stress

Healthy Habits for Sound Sleep

Below are a number of suggestions, some you may already be doing and some you haven’t considered yet

  • Sleep in on the front end instead  –  if you need more sleep, go to bed earlier rather than sleep in later.
  • Cut out afternoon caffeine – avoid any caffeine drink including, coffee, teas and even flavoured waters after lunch.
  • Choose proper foods before bed – some light snacks like bananas, yogurt or apples & peanut butter can have a positive impact on sleep
  • Take a hot bath earlier – our bodies need to be cool for sleep, so if you want a relaxing hot bath, do it earlier in the evening rather than right before bedtime.
  • Avoid stressful conversations – Kathy and I have a rule that we don’t talk about business or anything else that will get our minds working overtime after 9pm.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day – this may be difficult in the beginning but it’s a great way to train yourself to get on a healthy schedule.
  • Stretch the body and calm the mind –  quieting the mind can help your body relax
  • Avoid screens – any bright lights, especially from screens can interfere with sleep; try to shut them off an hour before bedtime.
  • Avoid social media – checking emails or looking up friends on FaceBook are a sure way to keep you from setting into a good night sleep.

You want to accomplish a lot this year and that’s great. But don’t sabotage your efforts by not getting enough sleep.

Q. On average how many hours do you sleep each night? Is it enough? What steps can you take to improve your sleep?