There are many people across America who go to work every day with a level of dread. It starts when they open their eyes each morning and face the tasks ahead. Yet they swallow their emotions with a cup of coffee as they rush out disconnecting themselves from the obvious.
They turn on their autopilot buttons and get the job done because it pays the bills. It provides security. It feeds the family. And if they’re lucky, they’ll get a week or two sometime during the year to unwind.
For a big portion of people, this has become the American Dream.
Even though our collective quality of life has increased over the years here in America, studies like the General Social Survey, which has been measuring social trends in the U.S. since 1972, reports a consistent decline in our happiness...and a rise in our unhappiness since the 80’s.
It’s not difficult to correlate how this increase in apathy plays a significant role in our discontent. A discontent coming out frequently as people become more aware of their displeasure with the system.
In the play Look Back in Anger, by John Osborne, the antagonist character named Jimmy summed it up perfectly, “Oh heavens, how I long for a little ordinary human enthusiasm. Just enthusiasm — that’s all. I want to hear a warm, thrilling voice cry out Hallelujah!...Hallelujah! I’m alive!”
But building enthusiasm each morning before taking on the world can be difficult, at best. Job stress stomps on motivation. Routines trample creativity and innovation. And lack of genuine care for individuals dampens the human spirit.
For so many people across America and around the world, their work and their life has become an unhappiness trap.
With those thoughts in mind, building and maintaining your enthusiasm is one of the most important values you can adopt. Enthusiasm increases resilience and teaches us how to maintain joy in the midst of challenge.
And Who knows...with a little ordinary human enthusiasm you just might find yourself motivated to start your own business or pursue experiences that fill you with joy and purpose. Before you know it, instead of trying to survive, you’ll start to flourish.
This 5-step approach is the difference between uninspired days and finding the drive to make your days productive and meaningful:
1. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Above all else, remember to be grateful for life's opportunities. Take a moment each morning to consider how blessed you are. Consider all the sacrifices you have made. Then consider all the sacrifices others have made for you. Evaluate what it’s taken to get where you are.
You may not be in an ideal situation, and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that you can get yourself out. Just as you embraced previous opportunities, new doors will open. What’s critical is to spend time now connecting and prioritizing your values. You will flourish when your choices and actions line up with your core values.
Remember that there are many others, including friends, who may be going through so much worse during this pandemic. Even if you are struggling, remain grateful!
2. Set good incremental goals. Sometimes life seems de-motivating because you have too much on your plate. It's important to maintain balance in all of that. Set manageable and measurable goals around your core values, and let them guide your workflow. That way, you'll feel more inspired to take on the day.
Don’t be afraid to say no! Trying to take on too much doesn’t make you more likable or accepted by others. That can be a tough pill to swallow, because it’s in our nature to want to look good and help others. But, truth be told, you’ll most likely end up being used by others at your expense. The wrong kind of people will take advantage of your work ethic, your kindness, and your enthusiasm...and if you’re not careful, they can deplete you.
Instead of biting off more than you can chew, set clear boundaries for yourself. Let others know when it’s okay or when it’s not a good time to approach you. This may be a little tough at first, but the more time you spend knowing your values, the more clear you’ll become about what you want...and don’t want...to take on.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed from taking on too much, then set a goal to adopt the value of simplicity. After all, life isn’t about how much you can accomplish... it’s about flourishing. And flourishing is about living a life of purpose and intention. Getting deliberate with your choices, choosing what brings joy, and saying no to the rest will result in an explosion of enthusiasm.
3. Try a shift in perspective. People I’ve coached who’ve taken on too much often describe their life being like someone running back and forth trying to keep plates balanced and spinning on sticks. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been conditioned to believe our lives are compartmentalized. We see each aspect of our life as separate and then go about trying to manage each of those priorities separately.
Instead, see all aspects of you life as one system...a single plant where what you chose to give your attention bears fruit from your efforts. Nothing need compete for your time and attention. You simply give each the energy required as need arises organically.
Keep in mind, the external priorities that have been competing for your attention actually represent important internal values. When you understand the values beneath those priorities, you can shift from the old paradigm of compartmentalization into a paradigm where each value wraps around and supports the other. Together, they create an intertwined network that binds all the amazing aspects of who you are into a living, flourishing, enthusiastic system.
4. Create an inspiring environment. Have you stopped to consider that your work or home environments may not be that inspiring? It's certainly a possible reason for your lack of enthusiasm.
Work and home are the two most frequented places in your life. And although you may not realize it, your environment has a HUGE impact on your motivation, enthusiasm, and your emotional well-bing. The objects, color, lighting, placement, and overall aesthetics in these environments have a powerful impact on you mood. So does the cleanliness. If your work and home space are cluttered and in need of attention, take a little time to get it all in order.
Everything is energy! Previous to private coaching, I spent 20 years in the interior design and home improvement industry. Although I wasn’t living in awareness of my core values at the time, subconsciously they were still influencing my choices. It ends up my #1 core value is CREATIVITY. What does that have to do with energy? Everything! As a designer, I know that good aesthetics is all about the energy an environment evokes.
You may not be able to do much about your work environment, but even small changes can make a big difference in your mood and energy. As for your home, think of it as your sanctuary. It’s a place of safety, contentment, family, and so many other great values. What would a sanctuary look and feel like to you? Get creative and see the difference in your energy and enthusiasm as you bring your environmental energy into balance.
5. Participate in a hobby. Sometimes all it takes is giving yourself permission to find enjoyment outside of work. When you participate in hobbies, you achieve a level of inner peace and satisfaction. You also become more invigorated. Don’t just pick any hobby, though. Spend some time in self-evaluation and get to know your values. Then once you have your core values lined out, look for hobbies that will honor multiple values all at once. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how enthusiastic you become about your blossoming gift of creativity.
That newfound vigor for life can go a long way in creating balance. Some things simply aren’t going to feel as exciting, thrilling, and enjoyable as others. Being actively involved in your hobby releases endorphins, giving you a natural “high”. If your hobby gives you pleasure and satisfaction, you can expect those feelings to last for a long time.
You can also use your hobby experiences to build your problem-solving skills. Let the creativity and flow you experience when you’re engulfed in something you love also work for you as you create solutions for the challenges that still await you...or are waiting for you back in the unhappy day-life-day of work. Who knows. Maybe you’ll come up with an idea that will help you escape the rat race.
Now that you know how to build enthusiasm and enjoy life, it's time to implement the strategy. Remember, life may not wait indefinitely for you start to feel excited again. Today is the day to make the change. Expect your enthusiasm to change for the better with these strategies.
If you’re interested in building more enthusiasm and would like help getting your core values and life choices in alignment, reach out and let’s explore. Or head over to www.harlansnyder.com and sign up for my free mini-course, 5 Ultimate Questions That Actually Empower Self-Success.