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Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run

by

A book of essays for professionals who love the work, but not the job — and who don't have time to deal with it.

Sometimes we love Skip to the Details:
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the work, but not the job. Or maybe just parts of the job. We don't want to leave, because the essence of the work, and its potential for the future, are exactly what we want. But the conditions of employment are troubling. Bad boss, bad company, trouble with peers, long commute, unfair compensation, and on and on.

An astronaut standing on the surface of the moonFor one reason or another, we can't leave the job, or we're hoping that things will improve. So we go to work day after unsatisfying day, hoping somehow that the things we don't like will mercifully end, leaving only the things we do like.

Some days are better than others. Occasionally we have stretches of really great days. That's what keeps us coming back. The one-armed bandit of life gives us just enough encouragement to keep us playing.

If this sounds a little familiar, then this book is for you.

Go For It! explores daily life at work, when the job can be a burden, but the work is a love — or at least a fun playmate. It examines how we choose our own experiences from the menu life presents, and it will help you find some tasty treats. Most important, it shows you how commitment to what you're doing — whatever that is — makes life easier and more enjoyable.

The book is organized as thirty short essays that at one time or another have been published as issues of my newsletter, Point Lookout. Each one is a quick read — perhaps five minutes or so. They're selected for a common theme — they're meant to get inside your head and your heart, so that after you read one, you'll put the book down and spend a day or so reflecting on it now and then. Or maybe reread it.

In that time, it's my hope that you'll find new insight, and perhaps find something in the essay that you can put to use in your life to begin to change it for the better.

The book is in electronic format — you can read or print it if you have an Acrobat Reader. That makes it great for travelers (it weighs nothing) and it's a wonderful, uplifting gift.

Table of contents

Here's a chapter-by-chapter summary of what you'll find in this book.

Click the folder icons to reveal (or hide) individual chapter content summaries, or:

This book is about changing your experience of life at work. By broadening the choices you have when you respond to what happens around you — and within you — you can make your job a source of your happiness, rather than a threat to it.
Beginnings can inspire, and sometimes lead to letdown when our hopes or expectations aren't met. How can we handle beginnings more powerfully?
When you face obstacles, sometimes the path around or through them is difficult. Committing yourself to the path lets you focus all your energy on the path you've chosen.
When you celebrate — even minor successes — you change your outlook, you energize yourself, and you create new ways to achieve more successes. Too often we let others define what we will celebrate. Actually, we're in complete command of what we celebrate. When we take charge of our celebrations, we make life a lot more fun.
Taking on the full load is what we do when we feel fully responsible for either the success or the failure of some organizational activity. Instead of asking for help, we take extreme measures to execute responsibilities that might not even be ours.
Have you had a major success lately? Have you become a celebrity in your organization? Are people showering you with accolades? When it happens, we feel great, and the elation does finally come to an end. What then?
We've all made mistakes, and we'll continue to do so for as long as we live. Making mistakes is part of being human. Still, we're often troubled by our mistakes, even when we remember that many mistakes turn out to be great gifts. Why do we have such a hard time acknowledging mistakes?
Humor is fun — that's why they call it "funny." If you add humor to your own work environment, you'll reduce your level of stress, increase your creativity, and drive your enemies nuts.
Some of us are fortunate — we work for companies that make sure they have enough people to do all the work. Yet, we still work too many hours. We overwork ourselves by taking on too much, and then we work long hours to get it done. If you're an over-worker, what can you do about it?
Most of us follow paths through our careers, or through life. We get nervous when we're off the path. We feel better when we're doing what everyone else is doing. But is that sensible?
Humor can lift our spirits and defuse tense situations. If you're already skilled in humor, and you want advice from an expert, I can't help you. But if you're humor-impaired and you just want to know the basics, I probably can't help you either. Or maybe I can...
Getting home from work is far more than a question of transportation. What can we do to come home totally — to move not only our bodies, but our minds and our spirits from work to home?
Many of us are experts in risk analysis and risk management. Even the non-specialists among us have developed considerable skill in anticipating troubles and preparing plans for dealing with them. When these habits of thought leak into our personal lives, we pay a high price.
Some problems are so difficult or scary that we can't even think about how to face them. Until we can think, action is not a good idea. How can we engage our brains for the really scary problems?
If you've ever known a particular dog at all well, you've probably been amazed at how easy it is to guess a dog's mood, even though dogs can't speak. Perhaps what's more amazing is that it's so difficult to guess a person's mood, even though humans can speak.
The past few years have been hard. Some of us have lost hope. What do you do when you're down so low the only place to go is up?
Grief is usually a private matter, but for some, September Eleventh is different because our grief can be centered in the workplace. On September Eleventh, give yourself permission to do what you need for yourself, and give others permission to do what they need for themselves.
When we depend on praise, positive support or consumption to feel good, we're giving other people or things power over us. Finding within ourselves whatever we need to feel good about ourselves is one path to autonomy and freedom.
You probably commute to work. On a good day, you spend anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or two — each way — commuting. What kind of experience are you having? Taking control of this part of your life can make a real difference.
Many of us travel as a part of our jobs, and some of us spend a fair amount of that time traveling solo. Here are some tips for enlivening that time alone while you're traveling for work.
Workplace touching can be friendly, or it can be dangerous and intimidating. When touching is used to intimidate, it often works, because intimidators know how to select their targets. If you're targeted, what can you do?
As Glen rounded the corner behind the old oak, entering the last mile of his morning course, he suddenly realized that he was thinking about picking up the dry cleaning tomorrow and changing his medical appointment. Yuck! Physically, he was jogging in a park, but mentally, he was running in a squirrel cage. How often does this happen? What can we do about it?
Since we spend so much of our waking lives in our offices, it's surprising how few of us take control of our immediate surroundings. If you do — if you make your space uniquely yours — you'll feel better about the time you spend at work.
Your boss's comments about your work can make your day — or break it. When you experience a comment as negative or hurtful, you might become angry, defensive, withdrawn, or even shut down. When that happens, you're not at your best. What can you do if your boss seems intent on making every day a misery?
Layoffs during the holiday period of November 15 through January 15 are far more common than you might think. Losing your job, or fearing that you might, is always difficult, but at that time of year it's especially helpful to keep in mind that the experience does have a bright side.
As a leader you carry a heavy burden. You're accountable for everything from employee development to meeting organizational objectives, and many of these responsibilities conflict. Life is tough enough, but most of us pile on top of this a load of over-generalized rules of work life — a load too heavy for anyone to bear.
Do you work for a boss who doesn't appreciate you? Do you feel ignored or excessively criticized? If you do, life can be a misery, if you make it so. Or you can work around it. It's up to you to choose.
If you have the time and resources to read this, you probably have a pretty good situation, or you have what it takes to be looking for one. In many ways, you're one of the fortunate few. Are you making the most of the wonderful things you have? Are you giving it your all?
When we take time to express to others our appreciation for what they do for us, a magical thing happens.
For many of us, taking a vacation can be a burden. We ask ourselves, "How can I get away now?" And sometimes we have the answer: "I can't." How can we feel relaxed about taking time off?
Renewal is a time to step out of your usual routine and re-energize. It provides perspective. Renewal is a climb to the mountaintop to see if we're heading in the right direction.

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