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Understanding What is Meaningful: Life as a Spreadsheet

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By Jeff Bloch, Chief Growth Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

A Guide to Understanding What Is Meaningful to You

This world is a story about you, and everything in this world is at your disposal to create your story.

Finding or creating meaningfulness at work is important, but before you can do that you need to spend time looking inside — deep inside — to clarify what is most important to you. That, of course, determines what is meaningful. Many people look inside on a regular basis, while others avoid it. It certainly isn’t always easy. I’d like to share some practical ideas on how to pinpoint what is most important to you.

Finding your Passions

You won’t think your way to finding your passions. Passion comes from the heart and the soul, not from the head. Meditating works for me. There’s a lot of recent science around how certain sound frequencies used in guided meditation greatly enhance your ability to access what’s deep inside. I suggest you try meditation (again?) even though you may have tried and given up years ago (as I have many times) thinking “I can’t stop thinking”. If meditation is just not your thing, then an early morning journal, connecting with nature, or other whack-on-the-side of the head may be what you need.

Warning: Your habits, your stuff and your comforts have become your shackles. Strive for bold changes or you’ll end up stuck in a rut.

Break it Down

Once you’ve locked into some soul-inspired ideas, then define your current and future states: “how am I living now, and how do I really want to live?”

Pick and observe some role models. Celebrities and historical figures are good, but there’s also an advantage to emulating people you know and respect — you see them in action first hand.

“How do I want to live” is a broad topic. Being human comes with a lot of complexity to begin with, and we live in a culture of information overload. It helps me to break things down into manageable chunks. I defined different areas of my life to pay attention to, like “diet”, “exercise”, “spirituality”, “VIPs” (friends, spouse, mentors), “finances”, “career” and more.

Call me compulsive, but I then created an online spreadsheet with those areas as the tabs. That way I can set, track and easily edit my intentions and goals, jot down thoughts, and keep myself focused. Within each tab I prioritized my action steps or how to drive deeper relationships or reach goals.

Build it Up

It was eye opening for me to compare my actual life to the ideal life I had mapped out. In many cases I was on target, but in others I was making convenient choices or just following habits. But now I had the information I needed to make deliberate choices. For you it might be calling an old roommate instead of watching a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory”, switching from a daily mocha latte to a homemade smoothie, or starting those music lessons you’ve been putting off.

I also have spreadsheet tabs called Daily, Hot Ideas and VIPs. The daily page is NOT a to-do list. It’s easy to get caught up in urgencies and small tasks. Rather, it is ideas and goals that I need to remind myself of every day. Hot Ideas are those light bulbs that go off — I need a place to get them down. VIPs are the most important people in my life, and the list reminds me to reach out on a regular basis.

Weave it In

How do you incorporate your new insights into meaningfulness at work? You need a plan. Most people spend more time planning vacations than planning their lives. I don’t mean you have to plan each day of the next 30 years. But, as we like to say at Decision Toolbox, either you design what you want . . . or deal with what you get.

Ideally you should find meaning in the core of the work you do — if not, consider a job change! — but you can also be creative about intertwining the important things into the “margins” of your job. So if exercise is important, start taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. If spirituality is important, carve 15 minutes out each day to find a tranquil spot to read or reflect. If philanthropy is important, ask HR about integrating that into work — your company may offer an employer match on donations or give paid time off to volunteer.

Even little changes in your daily routine can evolve into big changes in your life. What will you change? Share some ideas with us, below.

Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn!

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

In case you missed them, check out the other posts in our meaningfulness at work series:

Meaningfulness at Work: A Personal Journey
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to a Small Part of the Meaningfulness Galaxy
Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work
Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It
Meaningful Work: Change Your Attitude or Change Your Job

 

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One Response to “Understanding What is Meaningful: Life as a Spreadsheet”

  1. May 21, 2014 at 12:13 pm, Jay Barnett said:

    Great thoughts, Jeff. I love the way you are using Excel to optimize the excellence of your life.

    Reply

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