What is your ideal work day?

Last week I introduced you to a really powerful way to find a career that feels more like a calling than a job. If we were to wave a magic wand and you could start down a different path, right now, and you don’t know what that would be or how to figure it out, this process will be transformational for you.

There are 3 stages in this process: 1-Unearth, 2-Imagine, and 3-Create.

Last week we talked about Stage 1: Unearth. Today I want to talk about Stage 2: Imagine.

Stage 2: Imagine the kind of job you want, the work you want to do, the people you want to work with.

When you first begin to craft your picture, try to do it without job titles attached. Just imagine an ideal day at your ideal job. Where do you go to work? Who do you work with? What role do you play? What are you responsible for? Consider the strengths and skills you uncovered in Stage 1. Think about your values. How are you using these to really thrive? What are the tasks you do?

Sarah was a brilliant software engineer who was in demand, moving from job to job, hoping to find the one that she enjoyed. When Sarah did this exercise, she discovered that a big part of her ideal work day involved collaborating with other really smart people. As she and I talked, she realized that the past 4 companies she worked for had hired her to be the singular expert. At each job, she was challenged, but not engaged, not in love with her work. In her dream job, she got to work with other experts, she wasn’t the only one. They would bound ideas off each other and form new ones. She then began to look for a company with more than one technical expert, and where they worked collaboratively on projects. This led to a new job in a new company where Sarah loves her work, and is thriving.

It also is important be aware of the environment in which you will thrive. What does it look like? Feel like? Smell like? Sound like? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? How does your day unfold? Write it all down. Flip through magazines and cut out pictures of workspaces that you would love. Visualize a clear picture of the details of your ideal work day. Be specific. Get to know what it is you really want, where you would thrive.

Bill’s ideal environment included an office or manager’s cubicle. His door was always open, and people came in and out all day long seeking his help with their problems. As we did more investigation, Bill realized that he wants to work in a company in major metropolis, and he wants a structured environment with processes and procedures in place, as well as a management hierarchy. This is the environment in which Bill thrives. We ruled out startup companies, as well as independent contracting. For Bill, these situations would cause him stress and he would wither.

Take the time to imagine your ideal work day. Be specific. Be detailed. Use your senses. Do a written form and a visual one. Then review everything you have to see in what environment you thrive. Once you know these details, you can prioritize them, rank them according to “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and “Fun to Haves.” Then as you look for your next job, be sure to honor this list, so you too can thrive.

You can transform your career and your life, by unearthing your worth, embracing who you are, and offering your gifts to the world.

I’d love to hear what your ideal work day includes. Please share it on my blog (below).

5 comments to What is your ideal work day?

  • Must haves:
    Meaningful work that makes the most of my talents
    Mutual respect and consideration between my boss and me
    Flexible schedule
    A decent salary and health care benefits
    Nice to have:
    A chance to grow and learn
    Close to home or easily accessible by public transportation
    A small group of congenial, like-minded colleagues
    Coffee room
    Fun to have:
    An occasional free lunch

    • Barbara –
      What a great list! The more specific you are for yourself about what you want, the easier it becomes to look for it and find it. On your own list, I’d encourage you to be specific about what work you find meaningful, what respect looks like to you (what are the actions that show you respect), what health care benes and salary do you truly require…Then how close is “close to home”…in what way are your colleagues like-minded, and so forth. As you look for work, or even look to improve your current work situation, being clear about this list allows you to create or find an environment in which you truly thrive. Also, consider that things like ‘a chance to grow and learn’ – can be things you negotiate for – in the form of reimbursement for training or books!

  • […] you in the Imagine Stage, designing the career you would love to have? Consider doing an Ideal Work Day visualization daily for one week. Or at the end of each day, make notes of the qualities you appreciate from your […]

  • […] is where you begin to put the pieces together, but no job titles yet! Imagine what an ideal work day (or work week) might include. I recommend exploring this stage using all your senses. Write out a […]

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