Don’t wake up for your job. Wake up for your work.

The alarm rings, you silence it, and then try to get out of bed, sometimes unsuccessfully. You wash up, change into your work attire, have a quick breakfast, and hurries out of the house to head to where you will spend a good part of your day. Or maybe you will even skip the breakfast.

Sounds familiar? I’m sure it is for the most of you. At least it was true for me, until a few days ago when an expansion in perspective and understanding led to a significant change in how I view my work and my life.

A big part of it came from the distinction between my definition of a job or career and that of work, much of which is inspired from David Allen and Alice Sommer Herz (by the way, I would give anything to have dinner with her!).

To me, work is anything and everything that I set out to do. It can serve a multitude of purposes. My job is my work; my projects are my work; my interests and activities are my work. We all have work to do on this planet that we live on called Earth, and we need to see how it is playing such an important role in our life – because it is through our work that we excel and thereby tap into our magnificence. It is through our work that we serve this world.

Reclaim your purpose.

I realised that I was waking up the wrong way, literally. I was waking up so I could be in office by 9am, and it was a have-to thing. I was waking up for the job. I was not waking up to my best, and that needs to be changed. I decided that I would rise a few hours earlier, daily, go for a morning walk, come back for a shower, have a good and proper breakfast and then head off to the office.

It was easier said than done! Friends who have tried to fix morning appointments with me, and colleagues who have worked with me before, would tell you that I am not what you would call a ‘morning person’. While I am still working on getting to a 100% success rate with the new daily morning routine, I have been impressed at my own progress and at how much energy-giving it is to function at that level of purposefulness.

Habits are sticky; they win leeches hands-down. In changing the old habit and creating a new one, it is critical to take care of the following:

1. Address the barrier to success

I sleep late, and the lack of sleep was making it difficult for me to climb, or even roll out of bed in the mornings. A key change is to start sleeping much earlier, simple as that! Once it is time for bed, even though there are still many things which I want to complete, I put them down and head to bed. It is only when I take care of my well-being that I can better accomplish all that I want to.

2. Set yourself up for success: make it easy and convenient to change

I strategically laid out the clothes, shoes, and water (to wake me up), so that I can jump into them and head out as soon as I am awake. Well actually, they are to silence the excuses that creep in… ‘I’m tired’, ‘it’s cold and dark outside’, etc. We humans are such amazing creatures when it comes to generating of creative excuses!

3. Have a clear and strong Why

There are two big ‘Why’s for me changing.

One, there is a kind of magic in the morning air which I absolutely love. It feels very special and sacred to be out in nature in the mornings, peaceful and quiet, watching and listening to the world wake up little by little, and catching a beautiful sunrise on good days. Missing the window of dawn often results in a feeling of pity and regret.

Two, I want to take care of this body; it is what allows me to do what I want to do and go where I want to go. My body houses my soul and essence. It is the best vehicle that I have.

It helps too, to have a source of inspiration. For me, this source comes in the form of a quote: No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.  Show up to the world, and more so, show up to yourself.

And the payoffs for my job? What used to be sluggishness and fatigue have now given way to alertness and increased focus and productivity. It was amazingly ironic how I have been waking up earlier, and yet, it has brought me a lot more energy throughout the day!

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2 thoughts on “Don’t wake up for your job. Wake up for your work.

  1. I like this… waking up to your ‘purpose’, rather than to your ‘responsibility’.
    I am also a strong believer of doing the most important personal activities before heading for the office. Meditation, yoga, journaling & Japanese studies before breakfast ensure that I feel already fulfilled before 9 am.
    http://balancedprofessional.com/2011/02/01/body-and-presence-morning-habits-part-1/
    http://balancedprofessional.com/2011/02/05/mental-balance-morning-habits-part-2/

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