Mark Twain famously said that “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, stop and reflect”.
It’s easy for us to get sucked into the matrix and grind out work, day after day, and look around at our colleagues all doing the same thing and assume that ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be’ without really ever taking the time to reflect on what we really want and whether or not we’re truly happy and fulfilled in our work.
Every few months i perform a sanity check to assess whether or not I need to make any changes to the kind of work I’m doing or how I’m doing it, and I’ve found the following six Fs serve as a helpful guide.
Having the freedom to take on the projects you want to take on, to explore what you want to explore, to express what you want to express and to work from wherever you want work, and perhaps most importantly, not to have to work for somebody you consider a d*ck - you want to work for a strong, inspiring role model, somebody with ethics in tact who you can learn things fundamental to your development and growth from.
We all want to do work that we love - but we all need to survive as well. You might not necessarily want to build the next billion dollar unicorn and you might be content with a lifestyle business that simply generates enough to live a comfortable life, not be a slave to someone or something else and be in a position to contribute to causes greater than yourself.
Recently, Dan Price, CEO of payments company Gravity raised the company’s minimum wage to $70,000 after reading a study conducted by Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, which found that emotional well-being rises with income, but only to a point. And that point turns out to be about $75,000 a year.
So how much do you really need to be happy?
Doing work that matters, that makes a difference, that gets you out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step, excited to take on the day and ready to tackle its challenges head on because you know that the pain is worth it, leaving you feeling accomplished and proud of the contribution you made to the world come day’s end.
This ties into doing purpose driven work which you can read more about here
Fitness of body and mind. You're far more likely to achieve the other 3 find fulfilling work, freedom and get your finances in tact if you’ve got a solid foundation. Otherwise, I question the point of success if you're physically sluggish, unhealthy and emotionally unstable.
On emotional management, the philosopher king Marcus Aurelius noted in his journal that “you have control over your mind, not external events - realise this and you will find strength”. We all have the choice to interpret and respond to things that happen to us however we see fit, in alignment with the person we want to be.
Family & Friends And finally, if you’ve managed to achieve everything on this list but find yourself with no time for socialising and for spending time with family and friends, then perhaps you might be over investing in work.
Tip: Use automation tools like Zapier and outsourcing platforms like Upwork to free yourselves of process-oriented monotonous tasks and give you more time to play and live.
When I worked for an investment bank, I was strong on financials, and fitness has always been a mainstay, but lacked the other two so I made a change and have not looked back. If you find yourself lacking in one or more of these areas for an ongoing period of time then perhaps it's time to make a bold move.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.