You have probably heard the saying “Find a job that you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Well, that’s not me.
I absolutely love my job, but it is hard work. I cannot count myself among the Disney Imagineers who spend their days dreaming up exciting new adventures.
You see, I am the CEO of a commercial insurance agency. Commercial insurance is not everyone’s favorite topic at a cocktail party, but I genuinely enjoy the unique challenges and characteristics of the industry. My work involves a lot of complex math and processes, which my team and I repeat day in and day out. We examine data points and predictive models from every angle to manage risk and protect our customers.
Despite the high degree of repetition inherent to my job, I am passionate about my work. I have discovered ways to create moments of magic every day, and it’s those moments that make my job so satisfying.
How to Stop the Daily Grind from Burning You Out
1. Take a vacation.
It probably seems odd that the first item on a workplace to-do list is to leave the office behind, but the best way to find your joy is to remember that work is not the sole purpose of your existence.
The average U.S. employee used only 16.8 vacation days last year. While that might seem like plenty of time away from the office, it’s significantly less than the long-term average of 20.3 days that reigned from 1976 to 2000. Workers voluntarily gave up $66.4 billion in 2016 benefits (about $600 per person) by forfeiting vacation days.
Part of this is because 49 percent of workers reportedly feel guilty about taking vacations. Stop. Guilt is a useless emotion. You are better at your job when you feel rejuvenated and enthusiastic. By taking your allotted vacation time, you are also setting a good example for your colleagues. If you manage people, it is important to show your love for leave.
When it is time to take a vacation, I embrace the opportunity to recharge. I love to fish, so my family and I go out on our boat and enjoy some quality time together. It might feel tempting to run errands or take care of your kids on your days off, but do whatever you can to get away and unplug for a bit.
2. Depend on your colleagues.
By truly listening to your co-workers and collaborating with them, you can discover new ideas and innovations. It’s a great way to shake up your routine and show your team that you care.
Every spring, my audit partner gives me a year-end report card. I could view it as a mundane task, as the average CEO receives monthly (if not weekly) reports on financial performance. Instead, I use these report cards as a reason to begin conversations with my colleagues.
We use our financial data to ask questions about the future. Where did we achieve high levels of productivity, and where can we do better? How did our marketing strategy generate revenue, and how should we refine it in the future? What is our perpetuation plan?
Ask for and rely on the expertise of your co-workers. It will lead to insights that ensure you are doing your best, most rewarding work.
3. Learn from your competitors.
Finally, find the magic in the mundane by paying attention to what your competitors are doing.
I am an operator, and my work demands the execution of thousands of essential routines. If I were to perform them incorrectly, I could put someone’s business or family at risk. The same is true of nurses, lawyers, aircraft manufacturers, and railroad supervisors.
Still, operators can always find ways to improve. Set aside a little time each week — even as little as 10 minutes — to assess your competition. In particular, study rivals who are winning praise in the media or at industry conferences. They might inspire change in your business and remove the grind from your routine.
Whether you are an accomplished CEO or an industry newcomer, you can find ways to inject magic into your daily routine. You might not be in a leadership position, but you are still probably in charge of something. Whether it’s a sales process or customer portfolio, make every action count and pour passion into your profession.
I envy the creative skill of those Disney Imagineers. I bet their day-to-day assignments include things like “create a sense of wonder” or “add more stardust.” While I might not be able to flex my creative muscle quite as often, I use my imagination every time I search for continual improvement.
Like those Imagineers, try to dream of what could be. Listen to your teammates. Find inspiration in your competition. And from time to time, get away from it all. There is more to life than the ordinary.