Are you Fully Charged? by Tom Rath

The 3 keys to energizing your work and life. They are ‘Meaning’; ‘Interactions’ and ‘Energy’.

When you are fully charged, you can perform at your optimum. You will also be able to do more for others. It is difficult to integrate knowledge from books into your daily routine. Learn to create daily well-being. It is important to measure life on a daily basis. Technology can allow you to measure a lot more than is necessary. Having a higher salary does not change your daily happiness once you have hit the income threshold. Once you have met your basic needs, income is unlikely to increase your happiness. Daily experience is important and should not be underestimated. Focus on improving your own happiness. Take small and meaningful steps today. Energy refers to both mental and physical health. Most people struggle on a daily basis. You do not need to do anything drastic to change yourself.

Meaning

Creating Meaning with Small Wins. If you know your time is limited, you will want to make a difference every single day. I ended up feeling more energized. I can continue to invest in my future. Little and value-adding moments create substance and meaning. People who search for happiness are unlikely to find it. Pursue happiness for your loved ones and community. However, seeking your own happiness is unlikely to work. Meaning is centred more around others. Humans love to pursue meaning. Create meaning for yourself and for those around you.

The essential thing people want in a job today is work that will allow them to create meaning for others. My research suggests that the odds of being completely engaged in your job increase by more than 250% if you spend a lot of time doing meaningful work throughout the day. – Tom Rath

Pursue Life, Liberty and Meaningfulness. Since young, people always have the need for meaningful work. The book cites Viktor Frankl’s “Man Search for Meaning”. Intrinsic motivation is richer than extrinsic motivation. Those who exhibit intrinsic motivation are more likely to persist and not give up. It is easy to fall in the money trap and forget about meaning. Carrot and stick methods are not very effective anymore. Find activities outside work that can appeal to your intrinsic motivation. Create your own meaning. Look at the big picture. Focus small first. Attach the dots and start by having small and meaningful interactions.

Creating meaning can be practical – and relevant – to the people you care about most. Start by asking why your current job or role even exists. In most cases, jobs are created because they help another person, make a process more efficient, or produce something people need. – Tom Rath

Make Work a Purpose, not just a place. Some people see their work as a calling. Identify your work with a larger purpose. Find bigger meaning in what you do. Have meaningful interactions with your co-workers. Work should not be just about a pay-check. Work in the modern context should be a lot more and be packed with meaning. People work in teams now. In the past, people worked like machines due to industrialization. Job satisfaction levels are at an all-time low. People need to change their relationships with employers. Derive meaning from your work. Meaningful work is highly associated with job satisfaction levels.

Find a Higher Calling than Cash. Money is not main concern now. Non-financial incentives can work as well, or even better. Do not get caught on the hedonic treadmill. Money should not be the primary determinant. Rather, ask yourself whether you have made a difference? Doubling your income will not make you twice as happy. However, do note that financial security is important for your well-being. Avoid upward comparison. Wealth can cause you to embark on more stressful tasks. Money tends to make one behave more selfishly. Incentives on a group basis is better than at the individual level.

A fortune will always be relative to the person who has more, and fame is fleeting. While you may be rewarded with a large bonus or major recognition at certain times, most days consist of making a little forward progress without external reward. – Tom Rath

Ask what the world needs. Apply your creativity whenever you can. It is important to know your talents and passions. Find a way to make a difference. Start with what the customers want. Instead of following your passion, ask what you can give. Look at everyday problems that need addressing. Find the intersection between ‘Interest – you want to do’; ‘Needs of others and the world’ & ‘Strengths – What you are good at’. Find your unique purpose in this world. Find where you are naturally at or in. Start building knowledge and skills. When you use your strengths, it tends to bring better job satisfaction. Spend a lot of time at something to be very proficient at it. Double your energies on something. Act now before today is over. Try to find tasks that can match your interests. Most people do not spend their time on meaningful pursuits. Do not let time fly by without you realizing and then it might be too late.

Don’t Fall in the Default. Most of the time, you are following the dreams of someone else. Most people want to follow in the footsteps of a mentor or a sibling. Some people act because of peer pressure. There is a high chance towards gravitating towards something which your parents chose. It is not wrong to follow their dream. However, sometimes you must follow your own too. As humans, we need to forge our own path. Identify certain traits in children when they are young. Ask ‘why’. Everyone grows up with different expectations. Find your area of passion by exploring. Do not live in the shadow of others. Craft your dream into your job. Find activities that recharge you. Seek small things that you can see progress in. It could be something like boosting your spirits of those at work. One good way could be volunteering with the community. People forge good jobs, rather than finding them through job postings. ‘Effective “job crafting” starts by looking at how much time you dedicate to specific tasks which give you energy every day.’ Spend more time in your element, if possible. Spend less time around those people who will not energize you.

Initiate to Shape the Future. It is easy to spend your whole day responding and reacting. It is what you initiate now that matters. Most people spend more time reacting than initiating. Try to initiate something new every day. Are modern people too busy nowadays? Activity may not mean real progress. A lot of people multi-task too much and that doesn’t lead to much productivity. Chances are that if you are too busy, you might be missing out the important things in life. Work smarter, not harder. Information is coming fast and people are always connected. Due your mind wandering, it is difficult to concentrate on any task at hand. Sometimes, disconnecting from distractions can be very useful. Write down tasks which waste time and try to avoid doing so much of that. Dogs can be conditioned to salivate. Do not treat information as a form of reward. Most people spend too much time checking their emails. Modern people check their mobile phones way too often. Learn to shut off your notifications. Most phones have a switch off notifications function. Set aside time to focus on one particular task alone.

Focus for 45, Break for 15. In schools in Finland, kids are given a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of work. This method was good and allowed the kids to feel energized. People are more attentive when they receive timely breaks. During the break, learn to take a stroll. Intense bursts, followed by short breaks, is the way to go. This is a purposeful way of work. Finding a purpose in life helps to combat ageing and improves cognitive health. Let employees try to see the results of their work. Infuse each day with a reminder of your mission. Always recite the mission to keep you motivated.

Interactions

Make Every Interaction Count. Widowhood effect affects the ones around you as well. We are influenced by those around us, and they might not just be our friends. Your actions affect those around you. Those with higher positive interactions have a higher chance of having a better well-being. Negativity can affect positive exchanges. Do not assume bad intent in others. Be peace loving. Constantly try to build good relationships with others. Physical proximity matters. Close relationships can have a profound effect over time.

Be 80% positive. If you are constantly positive, you tend to feel frustrated. The ratio of positive to negative interactions matter a lot. When stressed, your body produces more cortisol. Positive emotions result in a release of oxytocin. In general, people need 3 to 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction. Managers should spend more time focusing on what works as compared to what doesn’t. Positive words help to bind relationships. Try to use positive words as much as possible in daily conversations. Do not ignore people and always pay attention to others. Negative feedback is better than nothing at all.

Start Small and Be Clear. Do not get caught up in the rat race. A warm interaction with your spouse is very important. Small gestures can help to boost others’ well-being. Use questions to spark conversation. Learn to ask good questions and probe. In general, people love to talk about themselves. Be vulnerable and humble to gain another person’s trust. Talk about your fears in general. Friendship enables you to connect with one another. It is common to mirror another person’s body language. A good level of trust is required for friendships to thrive. Sharing problems with one another is a great way to strengthen relationships. Good relationships at work are very important for well-being.

Take a Break for Relationships. Lack of cohesion leads to poor work dynamics and work productivity. Relationship building is crucial for work productivity. Influence amongst friends is contagious and you can catch the bug very easily if you are not careful. Continue to create positive experiences and your well-being will be improved. Do not text on the phone too often when having conversations with friends. Do not ruin conversations by not paying attention to friends. Give friends your undivided attention. People can easily tell if you are not focused on them. Do not allow your mind to wander.

Put Experiences First. If you recall happy memories, that can help to create some form of happiness too. The anticipation of a vacation can bring happiness as well. Experience-oriented products lead to happiness. In the long while, material items fail to provide long-lived levels of happiness. In modern societies, too many people spend on material items. People who choose to buy experiences end up being more fulfilled. The key is how you spend your money. Plan ahead for your well-being. Try to plan for your vacation a few months down the road.

It turned out that looking forward to a vacation or event provided even more happiness than the event itself. Even the memory contributed more to long-term well-being than the actual experience. – Tom Rath

Avoid Flying Solo. There is too much emphasis on solo achievement. Events with others are treasured more than solo experiences. Humans are social creatures and keep a certain level of bonding to thrive. A relationship is not a zero-sum game. Others win more when you succeed. Pro-social incentives work better than individual incentives. Try to allow others to give more than they receive.

Build a Cumulative Advantage. Focus on others’ achievements rather than their weaknesses. High levels of confidence is linked to increased level of benefits. Learn to encourage others. Use your knowledge to motivate and bring out the best in others. Bring things to life in words. Find and develop talent in others. Use praise and recognition techniques to aid you.

Energy

Put Your Own Health First. People in the healthcare sector need to take care of their health more. Invest more time in your energy and health. Star performers who work long hours tend to experience burnout. If you want to thrive in the long term, focus on your health and energy above everything else. Use short-term thinking for better health. Find the most pragmatic solutions. Make sure to get some physical activity in the morning. Ensure a good night’s sleep. It is a good idea to tackle multiple elements of health at the same time. It is very important to have enough energy so that you will feel recharged.

Eat Your Way to a Better Day. The food you consume affects your energy levels. You can’t simply measure quality of food by calorie intake. Avoid fried food. If you eat the right foods, your energy will be increased in the long run. Learn to make every bite count. Modest intake of protein is good for health. Consuming protein increases dopamine, which decreases your craving for sweet food. Go for egg-whites, berries etc. Ideally, one should consume more protein and less carbohydrates. It is better to shop when you full as compared to when you are hungry. Put vegetables and fruits at eye level. The food you eat can affect your mood and work performance. Avoid too much fatty and processed food. Learn to make better dietary choices.

Start with the basics: Avoid fried foods. Eat few refined carbohydrates. Eliminate as much added sugar as possible. Build meals around vegetables. Substitute whole fruit for sweets. Drink more water, tea, and coffee instead of soda or other sweetened drinks. – Tom Rath

Learn to Walk Before You Run. The key is to be active every day. The human being is not built to sit down and lead a sedentary lifestyle. The more you sit, the less beneficial it is. Build as much movement as you can into your routine as possible. Walking increases your energy levels too. Avoid sitting and waiting for long periods. Small bursts of energy are good. Use a pedometer to measure how many steps you have taken per day. Set a target for a minimum number of steps per day. According to research, 10,000 steps per day is a good target. People who exercise tend to experience better moods. After exercise, people will get a 12-hour mood boost. Exercising in the morning will give you energy for the rest of your day. Start by incorporating some activity into your daily routine.

Sleep Longer to Achieve More. Sleep is not a waste of time. A lack of sleep affects your well-being, productivity and health. However, most people tend to sacrifice sleep at their own expense. Ideally, try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Add an extra of sleep to your routine. Sleepless driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all cost. Get a vaccine for the rhinovirus. You are more likely to catch a cold if you sleep little. A good night’s sleep has benefits on physiological health. Using a cell-phone late at night can affect sleep quality. Avoid noise and bright lights when close to sleeping hour.

Eat, Move and Sleep to De-Stress. Stress can decrease the length of telomeres. Always keep active and eat well. Keep stress levels from snowballing. Stress is cumulative in nature and can soon lead to chronic levels. Avoid inheriting stress from others. Be conscious of your words and avoid stressing others out.

Respond with Resiliency. React to a situation as a challenge and do not see it as being stressful. Reframe stressful situation as challenges instead. Humans are remarkably resilient. Control your responses and do not do anything rash. Smile through difficult tasks. Force yourself into a smile and move on.

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