The key to getting started

Aug 15th, 2017 | By | Category: Commentary

Jeff Hough

By Jeff Hough

My son watches a popular show called “The Office.” It is a parody on life in the business world. I can’t stand to watch it, but occasionally they do a bit that strikes close to home and I find myself transfixed.

In a recent episode, the manager, Michael Scott, discusses getting started in the morning. He talks about waking up and hitting the snooze button several times. Then he begins his morning routine and drags himself to the office. Once there he spends the first hour of the day staring at his desk, pretending to work. He then muddles through his inbox and Facebook feed before beginning the day’s work.

Statistics show many American workers are like Michael Scott. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 50.8 percent of employees are “not engaged” with an additional 17.2 percent being actively disengaged.

These statistics make me wonder why 68 percent of the workforce even show up for work each day. Everyone has an off day—it is part of being human, but to show up day after day feeling like that is a problem. One possible cause to the problem is people don’t find meaning in their work.

We often hear how millennials are searching for meaning and ways to make an impact. But if we look deep into our own psyches, aren’t we all looking for the same thing? The adult in us tells us to suppress those desires because it isn’t the responsible or realistic thing to do. We were taught different lessons and those lessons have stuck.

What if those lessons were wrong? What if we can find meaning in our work, even if it is the same old boring job that we have been doing forever. Researchers who studied janitors at several hospitals found a unique group who find great meaning in their work.

They discovered those who found meaning in their work had “job crafted” their work. They changed how they thought about their work and its meaning. Those who had crafted their jobs felt their tasks required great skill, and that not everyone could do it. They had shifted their mind set and approach so it seemed as if they were doing a different job. They felt like they were part of the patients’ care and recovery.

While considering the concept of “job crafting” I came across a Ted Talk by Mel Robbins explaining her concept of the five-second rule. Her concept, like the three-second rule for dropped food, applies to new ideas and change.

Robbins’ theory is we have five seconds to act on an impulse physically before we lose it. She addresses the idea of everyone wanting meaning it their lives; however, few act on the impulses which lead to finding it. Everyone has access to the resources to make something happen, but few use them.

She identifies a concept called activation energy to support her five-second rule. Activation energy is the force required to get you to move from auto pilot to do something new. Finding meaning requires activation energy. Robbins says you have five seconds to use it or it’s gone.

The key to finding meaning is forcing yourself off autopilot. You must accept responsibility for your own happiness. Also, you need to understand that happiness requires action. The problem is we often don’t feel like applying the force necessary to be happy.

To put activation energy to work in your life, you must start with something small. Small changes need less energy than big changes so it is easier to start there. Begin by acting on those small impressions within five seconds.

The action doesn’t have to be anything more than writing the idea down. By acting physically on the impression, you begin to build your capacity for change, which in turn builds your capacity to find meaning in everything you do.

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Comment