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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.

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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 October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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