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Don’t Know How to Balance Your Dream With Reality? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

Don’t Know How to Balance Your Dream With Reality? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

There are a couple things that all of us hear, undoubtedly, in our lives. One is “What are you plans for the future?” and the other is “You should follow your heart and pursue your passion!”

The former can become very annoying, whereas the latter is supposed to make us feel confident and inspired. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to follow my dreams or pursue my passion, I have a tendency to freeze up. How am I supposed to do that? What if pursuing my passion means quitting my 9-5 job and being my own boss? How will I pay myself? How do I survive?

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These questions get scarier and more intense as they are listed out, but no matter how many there are, one thing remains: How would I go about following my passion?

“Follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement.

Despite all the fear and doubts, I’ve learned to believe in myself and take steps to start following my passions. I’ve started out slow; I still have a steady, full-time job. And I make sure the job I’m in allows me to use my right brain frequently.

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I’ve figured out the places I require compromise. I never accept a job in which I work weekends. I need that time to write and be creative. But it’s through figuring out that compromise that I’ve realized “follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement. We need to take a lot more consideration in choosing our career.

Following your passion doesn’t mean you need to be all-in.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals. Then I wanted to be a member of the Spice Girls because I loved to sing and I thought they had the coolest shoes. As time went on, I decided I would be a fashion designer and make all my own clothes.

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As I grew up, I grew out of this habit of changing my plans on a daily basis. I’m still passionate about singing, so I have a band. We perform on weekends, which is another reason why I won’t accept a full time career that would require me to work on Saturday and Sunday. I’m also passionate about writing which is why I have freelance work and write novels in my spare time. I can still do things I absolutely love without giving up a steady paycheck. And of course, the long-term goal would be to make those passions my main job.

Feel highly motivated when someone tells you to follow your passion? Wait, you should ask yourself these 7 questions first.

When I sing, people will tell me to audition for a reality singing contest. That’s very sweet of them, because I know it means they think I should be famous, but for now I’m so happy doing music the way I want to do it. And when I publish poetry or other writings, people ask why I don’t do it full time. For now, fear of the unknown sometimes holds me back. i.e. not knowing where my next paycheck would be coming from and when. These adjustments have worked for me, and it’s because I knew what questions to ask myself.

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  • When I think of what I’m passionate about, is it just one thing? If you’re like me, and passionate about many things, honor that! If you feel drawn to multiple talents or hobbies, don’t feel that you have to abandon one to pursue the other. Just because someone tells you “You should be an [insert passion-based career here], it doesn’t mean you should put yourself in a scary position and take a leap of faith any time soon.
  • Am I good enough to stand out from the crowd? Maybe you’re passionate about video game design. There are many people pursuing that very thing, but perhaps you have a natural ability to do something that it takes most people years of education to figure out. Don’t let yourself be talked out of a passion just because there is a lot of competition in the field. If someone tells you to pursue it, they obviously see your potential. Don’t be afraid to recognize it in yourself. And if you feel like you aren’t good enough yet, then how can you focus on improving your skills?
  • Can I really turn my passion into a career? This is the question you probably ask yourself every day. Yes, I love to sing, but if I tried out for a contest, would I lose? I love to write, but if I sent a book to be published, would they laugh at it? When it comes to something you’re passionate about, it takes hard work and dedication to turn it from a hobby into a career. For now, find ways to include your hobbies into your job. As a technical writer, I get to write for a living but still flex my right brain muscles when it comes to creating templates and general documentation. Perspective plays a big part!
  • Do I have thorough understanding of the industry related to my passion? Sometimes, the answer is going to be no. Even if you absolutely love the thing you’re passionate about, the industry that comes with it could require years of training and education. This should not automatically deter you from chasing after it. Make sure to weigh your options before taking that leap. If you don’t feel you know enough today, could you educate yourself tomorrow?
  • Can my passion be transformed in another form? When we are trying to make a career out of the thing we are passionate about, we usually develop a very narrow focus. When I was looking for a job, I knew I wanted to write. So I, of course, looked for jobs that boasted the word “writer.” I never imagined I would fall into a technical writer position, but it wound up being a great way to translate what I love into something I can make money doing. If you’re opinionated, you could be an advice columnist, a public speaker or a politician. Don’t put blinders on when it comes to your future.
  • Can I support myself if I turn my passion into my career? I know it probably seems like I’m harping on this point, but it’s about self-preservation. If you’re able to do something you love, that’s great! But is it paying the bills? Are you able to keep food on the table? Do you have the basic necessities covered and enough cash to go out with friends? It’s sad to think about focusing solely on financial success; it seems like compromising love for a paycheck, but it’s about being able to take care of yourself. So if you’re an artist, and you know you love to create, could you do web design? Maybe you could become a graphic designer. Sometimes creativity is required when it comes to merging passion and success.
  • If I had to do it every day for money, would it still be my passion? When I was in college, I started off as a voice major (singing) because it came with a scholarship. It sounds great, right? I love to sing and now I’m going to school for it, woohoo! But that wasn’t the case. When I was forced to do this thing, no matter how much I loved it, for grades and success, it became very depressing. After all, I wanted to sing classic rock, not Italian arias. I love playing shows now and making money, of course! But the fact remains: when you’re forced to do something, day after day, it suddenly loses its purity and becomes a controller.[1]

Let’s sum it all up.

What it comes down to is self-awareness. It’s key to know what moves you, what inspires you and what makes you want to wake up in the morning. But it’s also important to know when those people in your life, no matter how supportive, need to be ignored. “You should do this for a living!” and “Wow, you are so good at this! Why aren’t you making money?” are rooted in respect and gratitude, but only you know when to pursue something you love and therefore allow it to define who you are. It’s not a bad thing to let a talent remain a hobby. And it’s also not a bad thing to let a hobby become a profession. But know where to draw the line and how to stay happy.

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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