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3 Questions to Ask Yourself About Work

3 Questions to Ask Yourself About Work

When deciding about the work I do, I envision three circles: Impact, Joy, and Financial Sustainability.  Does my work have positive impact, does it bring joy to me and to others, and is it financially sustainable for my life?

First, just applying these criteria shifts my focus from fear, worry and survival; shifts my attention from my day-to-day concerns to something larger, to how I want to show up, to how I want to live.  There is certainly a lot to be afraid of and to worry about.  There is so much instability in many parts of our economy, in our relationships, and our lives.  And yet, where do we choose to put our attention?

When it comes to work, I choose to put my attention on doing what has impact, what brings joy, and moves me toward financial sustainability.


Impact may mean helping one person, a team, or a company.  I remember once when I was about to lead a workshop in which there were six people registered, being upset at the low registration.  I was hoping for at least 10 people.  When I mentioned this to my son, his response was, “Dad, even if you can positively impact the life of one person, isn’t that enough?” The workshop, with six people turned out to be wonderful.  A small community formed and went on to meet several additional times over the course of the year.

There are many ways, small and large, to positively impact others in our work – those we work with and those we serve.  Sometimes just listening, paying attention to another person can make a large difference.  From another perspective, a great question to ask is “How does my work serve others?  How could I have more impact?”


We usually don’t think of joy as being important in our work.  Buy why is that?  Most of us spend more time at work than any other place in our lives.  Why not look for ways to bring a sense of lightness and enjoyment to what we do?

This criteria of joy also raises the question “what do you really like doing; what is nourishing, challenging, interesting to you?  Is what you are doing aligned with the answers to these questions?  What steps might you take to bring your work more in line with a sense of joy?

Financial Sustainability

Money and issues of financial stability are complex and personal.  Of course we all need to pay the bills, to earn enough income to meet our basic needs.  With the current state of our economy this may be no small matter. People sometimes make work decision based solely on money, sometimes with the belief that money brings more joy and impact. Other times, people seek money as a response to fear or a desire for power.  The point of having this criteria is to bring more awareness to the question “What is financial sustainability for me?  How can I do work that is financially sustainable?”

Does my work have impact?  Does it bring me joy?  Does it bring me financial sustainability?

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Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser is CEO of ZBA Associates LLC, a company providing executive coaching, leadership development consulting, and keynote speaking services to businesses and non-profits. He is a developer and instructor of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program. Marc is a Zen teacher with an MBA degree and a former resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. He is the author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less and Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration.


+ add your own
1:34AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Thank you :)

10:33PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013


12:37PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

Thank you. I am unemployed and have been for over a year, but I don't know whether I want to go back to a job or start a business of my own. I'm leaning toward the latter. Yet, I have to earn money to pay the bills. These three questions certainly help me.

5:45PM PDT on May 30, 2012

happy to say "yes" to all three!

6:57PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011


6:54AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

i have it and i'm also increasing it
thanks for this article :)

10:40PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011


9:31PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

I am blessed to have all those things from my job! I do sometimes still wish there were a little less of it...

12:41AM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

thanks for sharing.

5:26PM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

I wished the organization I work for valued the impact and joy factors... Employees would be more productive not only by feeling good to come to work and put more energy into it, but work safety would increase as a result of more higher morale.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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