Do you ever wake up at night wondering, “Is what I’ve been doing in my career really what I want to do? While also asking, “Do I have enough time left to do something else I really want to do?”
Since none of us knows the answer to the “time left” question – at least not from this side of heaven. I’d like to offer an idea to help you get a clearer answer to “What do I really want to do?” by illustrating a simply process ,which seems especially appropriate, as we approach Thanksgiving Day.
The process is found in the book Sleeping with Bread- Holding What Gives you Life, by Dennis, Sheila, and Mathew Linn. The book title is based on experiences of workers in World War II refugee camps who cared for many orphaned children. The shell shocked children had problems sleeping at night fearing they would wake once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. One night someone gave each child in their area a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding the bread these children could finally sleep in peace.
The Linns took this concept of finding something simple that gives us a sense of assurance and created the Examen. The Examen is simply two questions you ask at the close of each day:
1. What moment today am I most thankful/grateful for? gave me energy
2. What moment today am I least thankful/grateful for? took away my energy
The authors share many examples of how these questions, if applied consistently, can help teams, couples, families and individuals become stronger and improve communication. For our purpose today, I suggest you record your answers to these two questions as they relate to your day-to-day work activities. Do this for one week. At the end of the week look over your list and add other ideas which come to mind. You have now created an inventory of what you want in your next career move and what you want to avoid.
Working Journal Entry: Using your data write a narrative, create a chart or draw a picture of the place, people, challenges and other things that make you most alive and most productive. Outsource, avoid or minimize any necessary energy drainers.
Now you see what you really want to do in your leadership and life. Time is all you have.