Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is your work meaningful?

I recently finished reading an excellent book about success - Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He wrote about meaningful work in his book, because he saw that successful people have role models for their success, and often that is a parent who is engaged in meaningful work.

You probably had a parent who was engaged in meaningful work when you were growing up. I'm going to give the example of my Dad , who has been done meaningful work his whole life. In my life he has had two different jobs - firstly as a captain of a container ship taking cargo from Australia to Asia, and then as a pilot guiding ships through the Great Barrier Reef.  I will use Dad as an example to explain what meaningful work is.

Mum and Dad on their wedding day in Sydney, 1978. Dad  is wearing his merchant navy uniform.

Dad has autonomy in his work - as a ships’ pilot he goes onto a ship by himself, goes up to the bridge, and expertly advises the ship’s captain on what route take to avoid the myriad of reefs and shallow passages.

Dad has complexity - the reef is constantly changing, with the bottom of the sea is not a constant depth with the sand moving all the time. He has to use all his experience at sea and knowledge of the reef, while trying to communicate on the bridge of the ship, often with at least three different nationalities present. He has to get home after weeks away to complete a bunch of paperwork as he is technically running his own business as a pilot.

He also sees the connection between effort and results. Ships are successfully guided through the reef. Captains of the ships he has piloted thank him for his assistance. He is invited back to pilot cruise ships and US navy ships.  He is paid for each ship that he pilots.

Dad giving a speech at our wedding in Israel, 2011
So let’s say that you grew up in similar circumstances to me - you got a good education, went to good universities, and then went out and got a good job as a doctor or a lawyer or a financial expert or something like that. Well we thought we'd get great jobs and do meaningful work like our parents. But somewhere along the way we realised that our work wasn’t what we thought it would be.

Suddenly we were told that the world of work has changed, and we’ll probably have many different jobs in our lifetime, not just one like our parents. And often we will be working in large organisations where we have no chance of seeing the impact of our hard work. And a lot of the time our heads will be occupied not with some challenging problem in our field, but in trying to figure out some organisation change that makes it impossible to focus on our work. And most of the time we just sit at desks and send a bunch of emails anyway, only some of which are ever responded to. And autonomy? Well our only autonomy in those offices is looking at Facebook, which reminds us that we are autonomous individuals with friends that don't have to do what our boss says.

Now I'm realising that there is a huge number of people like me - late 20s or 30s, educated and on the hunt for meaningful work. And the exciting thing is that there is more opportunity and variety of work available to us than ever before. We don't have to work in a large company. We don't have to work for nothing in a small company either. We can do our own thing, create what we want, and find success. Now is the time of the micro-company, the freelancer, the self-publisher, the teacher and the online business owner.

Go us!

Monday, February 06, 2012


Now I have some goals articulated, I need to work on accountability. I need to keep on track, to work towards my goals, not get distracted in the small things of life.

The problem is that I am easily distracted by a mind that wanders all the time through thoughts and ideas, so that while I'm writing this here I've had about 10 ideas for things to do and explore that I've written on the weekly planner that sits beside me. I've also been checking my nails to see if they need filing. And I've thought that I need to fix the blank white wall in front of me by filling it with inspiring things and images. And in that time I've written about 200 words, which I will need to edit and make readable for you all.

Everyone works in different ways, and it's a matter of you figuring out what works for you. I need to have 5 lists of things that I need to do. Amit needs only one list that he just does. I need to break down all my list items into minute steps so that I do not get scared by an item and then avoid doing it. I need 20 minute timers to tackle tasks I don't want to do (but need to be done). I've tried doing away with lists and timers and going with my heart, but it never really works. I forget important things, stress out, and go around in circles doing unnecessary things.

Take a dip into our lives now with my first video on being an entrepreneur! You can see what Amit and my work stations look like, and take a peek at our to do lists, and see what is outside our window. Enjoy!

A few links from the video:
The weeklyplanner from Kikki.K – it comes with lots of tear-off sheets 
Books that inspire:
Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to do what you love and get paid for it, by John Williams 

Accountability – sharing your goals with others
Amit and I just started having morning meetings, where we write our lists for things to do today and also discuss any issues we are having with what we are doing at the moment.

Once a week we're reviewing our major goals and how we're progressing towards them for the year. This works because we're open with each other about any doubts we have, and provide honest feedback.

There are other ways of being accountably to your goals.

One idea is a weekly check in – you can email a few close friends or loved one (or even post a list to Facebook!) with the list of things you aim to do that week. And at the end of the week check in and say what you’ve actually done. Of course you need to make sure that you give yourself a reward if you complete everything you said you would (like a piece of cake, drinking wine with friends, a walk in the park, or something similar).

Another idea is creating a small mastermind group that meets weekly to help each other achieve their goals.

Mastermind groups exist all over the world and help people with accountability by creating a support network around helping each other succeed in their business and goals. There is lots of information on how to start your own mastermind group, but the basic idea is:
- a group of 3 to 5 people
- working on achieving something for themselves, like creating a business
- committed to meeting once a week
- in person or via skype etc.

This site gives a nice run down of what a mastermind group is and how it works 

How do you stay accountable to your goals? And what do you think of my video?? (I noticed that I stumble over words when I'm trying to focus the camera...)