In a Rut at Work

How do you get out of a rut at work?

Earl Nightingale was a 20th century writer and radio personality. Dubbed the “Dean of Personal Development,” he often repeated his motto, “Your rewards in life are always in exact proportion to your contribution.”

Now, that’s one of those statements that’s easy to believe but it’s harder to put into practice.

Most of us wish that our work was interesting and rewarding (both emotionally and financially, of course) and we wish that we made a real contribution. But those aren’t choices on a drop-down menu of a job search website.

If you keep looking where everyone else is looking for those things, and doing what everyone else is doing, what makes you think the results of your search are going to be anything but average?

Borrowing heavily from some of Nightingale’s timeless ideas, here a few suggestions to help you get out of your rut at work and into your desired future.

1. Practice thinking. Nightingale recommended a daily practice so simple that most of us will never try it – it’s a daily idea time.

Select an “idea time” every day. During your idea time, just do one thing - write five new ideas of how to make things better where you work. Keep your ideas in a notebook or on your phone, so that you can refer back to them regularly.

If you’re in a rut at work, I want you to start your five-ideas-a-day notebook (or list in your phone) focused on your current work situation. You don’t have to leave your current job to get out of your rut. The job didn’t cause the rut. You let that happen.

Now five ideas a day will result in 25 ideas a week Do that all year and you’ll have over 1,000 ideas. Now honestly, most of them are going to be worthless. But some of them are going to be interesting or provoke new ideas. And I can almost guarantee that at least one of those ideas is going to be life changing.

2. Discipline your attitude. “Begin now to act as the person that you wish to become,” Nightingale used to say. If you want to be a person with numerous interesting friends, act friendly. If you want to be a person that other people go to for advice, then seek and be open to the advice of others. If you want to reap the financial benefits of being a Contributor (as opposed to a Consumer), then stop looking out only for yourself and start asking yourself how can I help others.

Another 20th century advice guru was fond of saying, “You can have anything in life that you want, as long as you help other people get what they want out of life.” That’s the mindset of a Contributor.

So, discipline your attitudes by acting now like the Contributor that you one day want to become.

3. Keep moving in the meantime. When you decide to change lanes, the last thing that you want to do is stop in the middle of traffic. If you commit to a daily idea generation practice and begin to discipline your attitude, you might determine that your job is not worth keeping. Or you may find another situation that suits the new you better.

Either way, something is going to change – either you will, or your job will, or maybe both will, eventually. But as you begin your new way of thinking and feeling about your life, don’t for a minute think that you should quit your job to accelerate the process. You don’t.

Too often quitting early actually short-circuits the good that can come from working through a tough season of life.

So, work at your thinking. Think about your work. And then act how you want to become.

Your contributions will expand. And so naturally will your rewards.

Offering you Wisdom on Wealth, I’m Byron Moore.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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