Feeling Good Versus Working Hard

By Karen Nierlich

This week's topic has long been an interest of mine - and the interest stems from my Cross Country racing days. I was one of the fastest female runners in Los Angeles, but I had a tendency to "psyche myself out" during the season semi-finals and finals. In thinking about, evaluating, and preparing for these races, I focused too intensely...and sometimes sabotaged my own performance through over-analysis.

A relaxed but focused state of mind is a much better place from which to compete, work and think. Getting agitated or amped and focusing harder, does not lead to better, clearer or more creative thoughts.

It's clear that this awareness is part of a paradigm shift in our society. We've spent the last several generations with our work closely tied to Puritanical values, suggesting that we needed to buckle down and devote our lives to our work...but it seems more and more common for people to respect the work/life balance, and to follow a "feel good, work smart" model.

This model was even suggested in the movie The Secret. In this movie about The Law of Attraction, writer and marketing guru Joe Vitale says something along the lines of, "It's all about feeling good as much as possible. You can get more of what you want when you are feeling good."
This "relaxed focus" is a tool that athletes use to excel, and even corporations such as Pixar and Google have discovered that happy employees are productive employees.

Unfortunately, it can be easy to revert to a centuries-ingrained Protestant model...and work harder than you need to for less then you could have. If you're having a hard time remembering that feeling good is a part of productive work habits, think about integrating some of the habits below into your daily routine.

Some ways that I use the "feel good" approach while working:

Routinize the little stuff. I made a list of little work tasks I need to do daily. I do them first. Record receipts, check balances, and make calls. By making them into a simple routine, what was a chore that bogged me down became a 5-15 minute routine.

When writing, plan to do 3 or more drafts. I let time do half the work for me. Meaning I write without effort accepting whatever I get. Then I read it once and put it away. Then I come back the next day and work on it again. This is not a formula, and there are ways I probably vary it each time. But I don't work at writing, I just take what I get and keep trying.

Write down questions I have about projects, work or other doings in my life and the accompanying thoughts. I revisit them later. Answers often just come.

Make my workspace comfortable and attractive.

Use silly pens. My daughter received some pens in bright colors with feathers on the top and she gave them to me.

Exercise at regular intervals and more when stressed.

Take frequent breaks.

Walk outside or change projects or go do something else when stuck, rather than continuing to plug away at it.

Of course, this is not a prescription. Getting to the relaxed, but focused state of mind is an individual thing that must gel with your personality and learning-style.

Some things, however, are universal. Eating frequently and lightly, getting plenty of sleep, and spending time outdoors seem to apply to everyone, but after that it's pretty individual. For some it's knitting, for other's it's throwing a baseball. Some people relax by cleaning. Others watch TV.

Karen Nierlich ©2007 All Rights Reserved
Resource Box: Karen Nierlich, Principal of Almost Everything Communications, works with independent businesses who want to attract more clients, more easily through their Website.

She and Tod Abbott are authors of The Website "Build It Right" Guide; a guide written to empower non-technical entrepreneurs by giving them honest advice on working with a Web designer. Start receiving free help by signing up for their newsletter Web Strategies at http://www.AlmostEverythingWeb.com Email Karen at Karen@AlmostEverythingWeb.com

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