I was reflecting on a day I had last week that I would classify as a “really good” day. I’m not saying it was perfect, but when I think about it from a personal level, I was very happy with it.
And by a really good day, I mean it was a really good professional day. It was a day where I went to bed, and I felt professionally and creatively satisfied. Most days, I feel like I’ve wasted my day with either pointless tasks or active procrastination. I look back over the day and think that I’ve let it slip away, never to be recovered, and I have nothing to show for it – no movement on any projects, I haven’t grown in any significant way, and I’ve let my base instincts drag me away from what’s important.
I’ve had many good days with friends and family, but I find good professional days to be rare – possibly because I spend so much time at work relatively to anything else in my life.
When thinking about this really good day, I suppose this is what Simon Sinek gets at when he talks about finding your “why,” or your purpose. I still can’t articulate my “why,” but I feel like the elements that made up my good day somehow speak to what fulfills me.
Anyway, I’ve talked around the topic enough. What was this day?
Here is a list of things I did that I felt fulfilled by:
- I took a phone call to consult with a client about some ethics questions related to their project.
- I secured some consent from industry partners on a development project I’m working on to create a new engineering degree.
- I had a meta-discussion about working at the college with a boss.
- I went home and got exercise by shoveling the driveway.
- My normally scheduled board meeting was cancelled due to the weather, and I took the night off from working at the bar, which meant I had a free night that I’d normally not have in the week.
- I watched some videos from a Udemy course I’m taking on how to record videos better (I enrolled to help me make better vlogs and possibly future courses).
- I spent an hour or so reading 40-50 pages of a book on professional/career development while listening to ambient white noise.
- I spend 30-45 minutes reading book about literary structure for fun.
I think what made these events so meaningful is I felt like I was either learning/developing through the process, or I was able to get good, positive reinforcement on tasks I was initiating. It’s not about “winning” or succeeding, but in this case, it’s about drawing a line that connects an intentional effort to find a certain outcome, and reaching that outcome precisely how you intended to do it.
In other word, I think the day felt so great because it felt intentional. I felt those elements that lead to professional satisfaction – I felt autonomous, a sense of control, and I was working towards mastery.
Now the trick will be to do that more regularly.