There is something incredibly rewarding about working they way I want to work, not because someone is telling me what to do or how to do it. Something so fantastically different about working my own gig and knowing that the compensation is a result, from start to finish, of my own efforts. Not to mention that I value the money so much more because I’m in a helping/teaching/giving role which is where my gut knows, and past career experiments show, I belong.
There is something so decadent about having the freedom to structure my work day as I choose. It might mean the ability to take a break to eat the last piece of cheesecake for a mid-morning snack (I just did that), or thinking through a presentation while taking the dog for a walk (much better option than the cheesecake.)
But that’s me.
Does it mean I sometimes work at midnight, or during the evening between my boys’ baseball games, and on weekends? Yes, it does. There’s a cost to every decision. However, for me, this way works best.
I love my offices. I have a home office where I work with candles lit, or incense burning, or loud music, or soft music or Howard Stern on XM. I talk to (and answer) myself. At my other office, where I see clients and pay rent and get my dose of human interaction, it’s tiny and cozy and it’s me. (Sans Howard Stern and the out-loud personal dialogue.)
I value freedom, and variety, and days that I get to structure any way I like. Some days I’m seeing clients all day, some days I’m delivering workshops, other days I’m writing resumes, or LinkedIn profiles, or blog posts. I love options.
But that’s me.
What about you? Do you need quiet? Do you need lots of social interaction? Do you need tight deadlines to perform your best? Do you want to walk away from the day at 5:00 and not have to think about it until you punch in again the next morning? Do you need to be outside?
There is no one way, no way more important than another, to work. There is only your best way and you need to know what it is so you can help make a well-informed decision about your career options.
If you know that you need structure and clear-cut, specific guidelines during your time at work, then that is a huge piece of the puzzle for you. And when you know something like that about yourself, and how you work best, you begin to make choices. Better choices. Aligned choices. Choices that lead to career wellness.
How do you find out what your best way is? You experiment.
Pamela Slim talks about “thinking like a scientist” in her book Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together.
When talking about what makes or breaks an entrepreneurial journey, Slim writes;
What I mean specifically is a willingness to create a working hypothesis, test it, observe with curiosity, ask why, tweak, retest, observe, et cetera, until you are satisfied.
Experimentation is not only a journey for entrepreneurs, I believe it is how we need to view career development as a whole. Anyone’s career. We are all experimenting in our own way, to find our individual best way, to work.
Take some time to reflect on past experiences, pay attention to current situations, and make a list of times when you know you preformed at your best.
It’s not for the weak; this experimentation thing. There are lots of hypotheses that deliver disappointing results. When this happens, add the experience to your list, break down what you learned about yourself, and experiment again. And again.
Keep experimenting until you notice that one of your experiments leads to unexpected peace, surprising happiness and an increased feeling of overall wellbeing.
When that happens, celebrate with cheesecake.
cheesecake photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10506540@N07/5806546039