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?
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?