“How can I achieve more professional success without giving up my personal happiness?” has long been many of my clients’ biggest concern. I have the privilege of helping them achieve both simultaneously.
A new concern has emerged, however, presumably due to the pandemic and working remotely. That concern is ennui, a feeling of weariness and discouragement. Even people who know they’re fortunate to remain healthy and working are experiencing these feelings. So, how can you overcome ennui?
First, spend as much of your professional time as possible doing work you love. It’s unlikely you can spend 100% of your time doing your favorite work, but I encourage people to aim for 80%. Do that by 1) determining the work you love, 2) assessing your work load, 3) keeping work you love doing and/or must do yourself, 4) delegating work you don’t love or that others should learn and 5) stopping work that doesn’t need to be done. See Successful Delegation for more about assessing and delegating to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t.
Second, to the degree possible, pick your clients with care. My perfect clients want to work with me to achieve their potential, are open to exploring new ideas and are committed to our work together. What makes a client perfect for you? If you haven’t already figured it out, do so now. It can be helpful to think about your favorite current clients and identify why they’re your favorites. If your firm or supervisors choose your clients, ask them to help you spend more of your time with the clients you want to work with, while understanding that you must meet the needs of the firm. If you’re a solo practitioner, improve your business development skills, so you can knowledgeably target your market and attract more perfect prospects from whom to choose. See Market YOU! for more information.
Third, spend some of your personal time doing something that allows you to experience flow. Flow is the state, whether working, playing or just relaxing, in which time seems to stand still. Finding that state requires knowing yourself, knowing what you enjoy so much you lose track of time. One of my sons achieves flow when he fishes. There was a time when I achieved flow when I ran. I no longer run, but I can find that same state of flow when I hike in nature or drive in the desert. What activity or environment leads you to a state of flow? Is it woodcarving, painting, swimming, meditating or staring out the window? Spend time every week, perhaps every day, at one of your flow activities. Don’t think of this as wasted time or something you’ll do when you have more time! Your body and mind enlarge in a state of flow, often allowing you to have new ideas and solve old problems, while enjoying your life more fully. See the Ted Talk, Flow: The Secret to Happiness, for more information.
These three practices can help you overcome ennui and renew your energy and pleasure in work and life.