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Break the Mold and Create Your Own Work

Break the Mold and Create Your Own Work

Last Thursday, I wrote a column here called “Why Work?” I was hoping that we could break away from thinking about the income we tend to quickly associate with jobs and working for a living, and think about some other motivators, and some other satisfiers. Yes, income is a necessity of life, and I do not deny it is a strong motivator, but once you get enough to satisfy your basic needs and a bit more, you quickly discover that cash isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. It is just the beginning, because we human beings need more than money to love this thing we call “true living.”

Personally, I love working, and the feelings I associate with work are those I wish for everyone; happier people treat other people better and are nicer to be around. Just think how much better customer service would be if you never again had a grumpy service provider who barely disguised their displeasure with their job (and with you annoying them into doing it).

The reason I write, coach and speak about Ho‘ohana, the value of worthwhile work, is that great work done really well is how even greater stuff happens.

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There are no givens. It takes work to move us forward; work breaks us free from stagnancy and inertia. And groundbreaking successes, no matter how you want to define them, takes the effort and focus of passionate, feels-important work. No one said this was easy, and frankly, I think ‘not easy’ has its merits. There is considerable value in hard work.

I think my column fell short last week for you, and I need to thank Tony Clark and Chris Cree for the help they gave me in salvaging it.
—Tony wrote: What are you Working For? and
—Chris wrote: Work Where Your Passion Is, and then
—Tony wrote: Why Settle for Just One Path? which (I’m guessing) may have inspired
—Chris to do this: Contemplating a Bit of a Course Change

In other words, they worked harder at this subject than I had. They got great stuff to happen. Thank you guys.

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As with “Why Work?” The coach in me tends to asks questions, and then wait a bit before glibly handing out answers; I feel I’ve given you more when you have to think harder to come up with the answers yourself. Tough love has its place; it can prep you for the reality of a life in which answers don’t come easy. It can help banish an entitlement mentality, and help us groom a better work ethic. It can deliver this aha! moment where we realize that all that gritty, nose-to-the-grindstone work felt pretty terrific both in the doing of it and in the result.

And the right work? Well, it can be that meaning-of-life kind of question, can’t it.

Finding the work that you are perfectly suited for is a tough thing, and finding that work which you are passionate about, AND getting compensated for it fairly – or better yet, exorbitantly – is even tougher. Tough to impossible. If you go looking for that perfect job, you are in for a journey on which you have to try a lot of things, you have to make a lot of sacrifices, and you have to hope that in the process you get surrounded by decently good people whom you’ll like to be with.

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That’s “finding” and “looking for” the right work. For most people, the problem with their right-job/passionate-work search, is that they are looking for something which very likely does not even exist. They are trying to uncover a package deal which consists of a bunch of variables designed by someone else needing a job to get done, not work to be lived passionately by the person doing it. There’s a big difference.

The break the mold alternative, is creating your own right work first, and then figuring out how to get compensated for it second.

Right work is work you make happen on your own terms. You cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, and you work for profit and not for a paycheck. Next you market what you produce; whether it be invention, talent, skill, or knowledge. You become a highly marketable, wildly desirable commodity that people are all to willing to pay for the privilege of having. It’s rarely a chore for you to produce more of what they might want from you, because you started off loving the doing of it in the first place. You are fueled by passion, you get affirmation and recognition when the marketing delivers sales, and the cash becomes gravy.

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Now understand that you can do this for an employer and need not have your own business. Profit versus paycheck is a state of mind and an attitude, it’s part of financial literacy. Think of marketing what you love to do as qualifying an employer and getting into the interviewer’s seat yourself. You are not looking for the perfect job; you are interviewing buyers for what you do. You are offering to deliver to them the perfect role that up to now was missing in their company. They need you, not just the job. They are paying for you, not for a task they can train someone cheaper to do.

This creation of yours may not be less work; it may be more, but only for the short term. In my case? 24 years of looking, until I got smarter and spent 3 years of creating. It may take longer for you (or not), and yes, you may need to work in a 9-5 job you hate so you can pay the bills while you are creating it. Chaulk it up to the character and work ethic you need to cultivate anyway. For believe me, unless you are incredibly lucky —exceedingly, unbelievably, astoundingly, amazingly blessed and lucky —the right work, YOUR right work, is something you have to make, stamping it with your personal, one-of-a-kind brand. It is not something you look for and find.

I would also suggest:


Rosa Say

is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. For more of Rosa’s ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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