Did you know that our brains have something called a “negativity bias?” Because our brain is wired to keep us safe by looking for threats, we tend to look for, remember, and be affected more strongly by negative experiences than positive ones. The problem is, if you want to find work you enjoy, only making a list of the things you don’t want isn’t going to be that helpful. Here’s a quick process to turn your don’t want list into an action plan.
Step 1: Make a Don’t Want List
Let’s say you’ve been working for yourself for a while, but you’re not enjoying it as much anymore. You’re probably very clear about what you don’t want. Your Don’t Want List could look something like this:
• I don’t want so much stress.
• I don’t want to work alone.
• I don’t want to spend so much time on the computer.
• I don’t want to spend so much time marketing.
Step 2: Make a Do Want List
Now you need to create a vision of what you do want. I know dreaming and desiring can feel scary sometimes. Our negativity bias is there to keep us safe. But you can’t find work you enjoy if you don’t know what it looks like.
Turn your Don’t Want List into a Do Want List.
Let’s take the first item: Less stress. Ask yourself, “What would having less stress look like?” Avoid describing what you don’t want (e.g. I don’t want so many meetings early in the morning). Instead, describe what you do want (e.g. I want all my meetings to be between 10 AM-2 PM). Turning the Don’t Want List above into a Do Want List could look something like this:
• I don’t want so much stress –> I want all my meetings to happen between 10 AM-2 PM.
• I don’t want to work alone –> I want to work with more people around.
• I don’t want to spend so much time on the computer –> I want to work offline more.
• I don’t want to spend so much time marketing –> I want to hire a virtual assistant.
Step 3: Make an Action Plan
Now that you know what you want, you can turn your Do Want List into an Action Plan. Take each of the things you want and turn them into bite-size actions steps. For example:
• I want all my meetings to happen between 10 AM-2 PM –> Change my available meetings times to 10AM-2 PM on my Calendly.
• I want to work with more people around –> Contact x, y, and z to see if they’d like to co-work at an outdoor cafe next week.
• I want to work offline more –> Block off two afternoons each week on my calendar to read, write, generate ideas, organize my space, and meet with people in person.
• I want to hire a virtual assistant –> Look at my budget to see how many hours I can afford to have a VA.
Here’s another example.
Let’s say you’ve been a massage therapist for a long time, but you don’t want to do it anymore. You want to find work you enjoy!
Don’t Want List
• I don’t want to do such physical work.
• I don’t want to work for a gym, or spa.
• I don’t want to take care of other people’s stress
Do Want List
• I want more creative work.
• I want to work from home.
• I want to take care of my stress level.
• Make a list of all of the creative things I like to do.
• Brainstorm ways I could be paid to do a form of the creative things I like to do.
• Brainstorm day jobs I could do that would allow me more time to do creative things outside of work.
• Research classes where I can learn skills that would open up new, creative work opportunities.
• Organize a space in my home, even if it’s tiny, where I can work and be creative.
• Schedule a time each day to do something that relieves stress.
Give it a try!
I hope this helps you start to take small steps towards finding work you enjoy. If you’d like help turning your Don’t Want List into a Do Want List and an Action Plan, sign up for a free 30-minute sample session.