The third blog from our Guest Blog Expert, Janet Henson-Webb, a Human Resources, Learning and Development Professional and Coach
When I ask this question of someone on a Monday, there’s a good chance I’ll get the answer, “Tuesday!” The answer I’m looking for – and perhaps the answer we’re all looking for – is “Better than Today.”
We all have good days and bad days and days that are fairly routine and nothing special but how often do we take the time to think about how we spend our precious time, both inside and outside of work and identify what we really should be focussing on to achieve a career and work/life balance?
We can be creatures of habit. From time to time, we need to hold each of those habits up to the light and ask ourselves, “Is this habit still serving me well?” Are you just doing the same things over and over again because they’ve become routine? Do they satisfy? Do they really serve a purpose in your life as it is now and how you want it to be in the future?
The simplest way to improve your satisfaction levels and take action to make tomorrow better than today is to take two pieces of paper and draw a large circle on each. Head up one page, “Today” and the other “Tomorrow”. Now start dividing “Today’s” Circle into segments, as if you were cutting a cake into slices, each slice representing a key life area. Segments could include Work, Family, Social Life, Health, Sport/Exercise, Community, Spirituality, Travel, Hobbies, Learning and so on – the number of segments and their descriptions are up to you. Now indicate how large each segment is in percentage terms i.e. currently you may spend 5% of your time on learning, 5% on sport/exercise, 10% on family etc.
- How do you feel about the relative sizes of each section?
- Are you spending the right amount of time on the right things?
- If you increased the amount of time you spent on a particular segment, would that increase your satisfaction levels or if you had more of that activity would it make no difference or, possibly, be too much of a good thing?
Allocate each segment a satisfaction score out of 10, with 1 indicating that you gain no satisfaction from that activity at all at present and 10 indicating you are totally satisfied with that key life area. If you wish to make a positive change to your satisfaction levels in this segment, describe the current situation that you would like to change. For example, you might be looking at the section on “Learning” and you’ve given it a satisfaction score of 5/10. Why did you give it that score? Describe the current situation that you wish to change. It might be, “I feel stale and stagnant. I don’t feel as if I’m expanding my knowledge and experience and growing.”
Now think about how you could turn that around. Be realistic. Better to identify a few small steps that you can take to enhance your satisfaction in this area and stick with them until they become a new habit, rather than bite off more than you can chew. It could be that three hours of self-development a month is a positive goal which you feel you can achieve which will have a positive impact on your satisfaction levels in this area of your life. So how will you find time for these three hours? If you always work late, leaving the office on time on one or more occasions over a month could be the answer and you could use that time to attend a networking event with a speaker whose topic interests and inspires you.
Now look at the other page and “Tomorrow’s” Circle. Start to populate that circle with sections which reflect what you would like your life to look like going forward. It may be that some sections which are in Today’s Circle no longer feature in “Tomorrow’s” or are much smaller – or even larger. There may be new sections you would like to add – to accommodate something that’s been missing from your life. When you’ve finished you have a quick and easy visual image of what you want tomorrow to be.
How are you going to make that transition from today to tomorrow? Refer back to the scores for your satisfaction levels on the scale of 1-10 in each of “Today’s” Circle’s sections. Make sure a few small steps are identified – and written down – for each of those sections where you want to increase your satisfaction. Reflect on any new sections which appear in “Tomorrow’s” Circle and note down some actions for those, too.
When you’ve completed the exercise, the next step is really important. Look at the action plan you’ve put together of all those steps and select one of those which you will either implement or work towards within the next 24 hours. No excuses. Make a start now. Take action. Just do it.
For example, if you’ve decided that you want to focus on your self-development, decide to spend a couple of hours that evening identifying what form that self-development could take – enhanced qualifications, giving or receiving mentoring or coaching, working on a special project or in a different section of the company are some ideas to consider. Then think about who you would talk to at work about this and make that appointment with them. Get something arranged. There’s always something you can do within the next 24 hours which will make you feel you’ve made a start and you’re working on improving your lot.
And remember, it takes at least 21 days to break a habit and approximately 25 days to form a new one so don’t give up after a couple of weeks if you want tomorrow to be better than today.