Two of the biggest obstacle-mindsets that come up while trying to do meaningful work are very familiar to most of us:
- Burden (complaint): The work feels like a burden (difficult, overwhelming, annoying) and you might do the task but you rush through it or you complain about it in your mind, because you don’t really want to do it.
- Unimportant (putting it off): This difficult task doesn’t seem like it’s an important one so you feel like putting it off. You rationalise why “it’s OK to put it off”.
Do either of these sound familiar to you? You probably recognise yourself in at least one of these (if not both) mindsets, as they’re incredibly common.
The first mindset makes our work (and things we have to do in our relationships and personal lives) feel like a huge burden, which causes us to have a negative attitude towards the work that we have to do. If you have this mindset in you relationships, people around will feel it. If you do this while playing with your kids, they’ll feel it. If you do this at work, your workplace will start too become an unhealthy environment.
The second mindset causes us to rationalise not doing something we made a commitment to, which causes people to trust us less and makes us trust ourselves less. We don’t really feel 100% committed to anything, and then we start avoiding any tough commitments because they now seem uncomfortable.
What would happen if you could transform these unhealthy thinking patterns, these unproductive mindsets? What would happen if you felt 100% committed to the things that are truly important to you? What would happen if you felt joy in being able to do your tasks?
I have a few simple mindset shifts to try out, that I think will transform everything:
- See it as a “two-way gift”. When you have a task to do, it can feel like a burden, but you could also see it as a gift. For yourself and for others. For example, if I had to write an article, I could feel the burden of writing it and then give up, or see the opportunity of writing and helping others as a gift I’ve been given – and my writing as a gift to others, that might help them when they’re struggling. What a beautiful thing, to be able to embrace this gift! And to give a gift to others is an incredible privilege.
- Remind yourself of it’s importance. Does it feel like the tasks you have in front of you aren’t important enough to such an extent that you can actually rationalise putting them off? Then either you’re picking the wrong tasks (pick ones that feel connected to who you are or to someone/something you care about), or perhaps you have forgotten the importance of that task – the meaning and value of it. Cooking and meal-prepping? Taking care of your body and paying attention to what you actually put in your belly is one of the most important things you could do for yourself. Need to make some phone calls? Serving the relationships that those calls represent is an act of devotion to the people you care about. Same with emails and other messages. For me, writing or recording a video for one of my personal development programs is important because it connects me with others who are struggling, who are searching, who are on this beautiful journey with me. All of your hearts are incredibly important to me and every act I do for my community is of utmost importance. I do need to remind myself of that every now and then and reconnect my heart to that meaningful mission.
- Meditate (briefly) on the shortness of your life. Finally, you might try reminding yourself that life is kind of short (not trying to be negative). That might sound morbid and unnecessarily dark, but it’s a certain fact. We only have a limited amount of time left here on Earth, and we don’t know how much that is. We like to pretend that we’ll live forever in this world, but if you knew you only had a year left to live, how would you want to spend it? If you had limited time left, how would you want to spend today? Forgetting about what’s important and being distracted? Or pouring yourself into meaningful work and connecting your heart to the people and activities you truly care about?
With this precious day that you’ve been given as a gift, show up fully committed. Show up fully devoted to the people you care about. Show up with fierce love that is a gift to all those around you. Show up with full loving appreciation for those you’re connected to, and for the gift of this moment.