One of the prerequisites of making a life change is to determine where you are– to go beyond “I’m dissatisfied with my current reality” and get specific about what is and is not working.
Burnett and Evans of Designing Your Life recommend measuring Energy and Engagement. Which activities in both work and play give you energy? Which drain you? Where are you fully engaged and where are you simply going through the motions?
Sometimes we are fortunate enough to go into Flow– the concept from positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*. Here’s how he describes how it feels to be in flow:
- Completely involved in what we’re doing– focused, concentrated.
- A sense of ecstasy– of being outside everyday reality
- Great inner clarity– knowing what needs to be done and how well we are doing
- Knowing that the activity is doable– that our skills are adequate to the task
- A sense of serenity — no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego
- Timelessness– thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes
- Intrinsic motivation– whatever produces flow becomes its own reward
Designing Your Life offers a tool called the Good Time Journal Activity Log. When I work with clients who want to feel more satisfaction and meaning in their lives I give them this assignment.
Spend a few weeks tracking your activities and your levels of energy and engagement. Note both high- and low-level activities. If something involves you so fully that you lose track of time and get into a flow state check that box.
Be sure to include activities from your work and also your life outside of work. Best practice is to fill it out at the end of each day, but you could also fill it out at the end of each week.
Make sure you’re not judging yourself or making someone else’s list– that is scoring activities that you think SHOULD engage or energize you. We’re gathering data about you to use in your redesign. It’s neutral, no judgment.
When you have a few weeks worth of activities noted, reflect on any patterns you see. What are you learning? What types of activities or environments stimulate you? Are you interacting with others or with certain tools? What can this information tell you about yourself?
If you do this assignment and want to talk about what came up for you and what some next steps might be, I invite you to schedule a call. It energizes and engages me to talk about this stuff.
*(Finally learned how to pronounce it) ME-high Cheek-SENT-me-high