Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

Ep. #33.How to Keep Going when Work is Hard

September 16, 2022 Jean Balfour Season 1 Episode 33
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
Ep. #33.How to Keep Going when Work is Hard
Show Notes Transcript

We all find work hard at times.

Even the best job is challenging at moments and we procrastinate, complain, resist....

In this episode Jean share Eckhart Tolle's 3 modalities for doing and how we can apply them in our own work to move towards Acceptance, Enjoyment and Enthusiasm

You can find Eckhart's book A New Earth here:

You can find Jean here:


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hi, everyone. And welcome to making sense of work. I'm in the middle of a big piece of work that's I'm not necessarily enjoying. And I thought it might be a good topic for a podcast because I'm grappling with how to find a way for it to be different. And I'm having some success. I'm in the middle of a big project this year, our accrediting body has moved a lot of goalposts and we've had to make a lot of revisions to our coach training programs and to all the systems and processes and documents that sit behind them. And this has meant a lot of new work, really to get us aligned with this new format. I perhaps foolishly also decided to take this opportunity to make some other changes, including moving to a new landing management system, which goes live in about five weeks time. I say nervously and updating our legal documents. You know, the kind of things you don't need to know all the details, but just, just to say, it's a lot of work and this type of work doesn't really come naturally to me or suit me. I'm a people person. And here I am doing a lot of work that requires a lot of detailed focus, remembering a lot of. Pieces that belong to each other and nuts and bolts of things. And I haven't really been enjoying it much and I'm spending a lot of 20, 22 in this work. So I've been finding it hard. I've had a lot of potential to be complaining, procrastinating, and generally being a bit miserable. And. I've been thinking also about that, because I'm curious about the nature of work and thinking that the thing is that we all have to do work like this at times. And we all struggle with our work at various times and find it hard. Sometimes we are in a job that we really, the whole of the job we're struggling with, or we've got terrible relationships at work, or we think we are maybe on the wrong career. And then work becomes really hard. And when that happens, we move to resistance and resistance and then we resent it and then we are miserable. And there's a kind of strange thing that also happens for work. We hard find hard is that it can also happen for work that we find fulfilling that even that work we can resist and complain about. There's a lot of talk, for example, in the writing community about how hard it is to sit down at. Gonna actually get going with the writing that somehow we resist and we don't do it. So I became really curious about how I can approach this work this year, a bit differently. It's already September. I was keen to see out the year with a different mindset. I really could see and feel that my complaining my resistance, my resentment, actually wasn't serving me. And it's particularly difficult because I'm choosing to do this project. We could have left things as they were in the status quo, but it's because I'm constantly seeking improvement and wanting things to be better that I chose it. And yet it's kind of bringing me down and I was struggling. So I turned to Eckhart, I've talked a little bit about his descriptions of different ways of being with work, which he talks about in his book, the new earth. And I really began to think about these again and see whether they could help me. And so in the podcast, I want to talk about the modalities that he describes and how we could apply them to see if we can move to a different mindset with our work. He says that he sees three modalities of awakened doing, and he describes them as acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm. And he goes on to say that when we are not in any of these states, we are essentially creating suffering for ourselves when we are resisting and resenting, we are making ourselves unhappy. And certainly for me, I know that's true that when I'm in that struggle space, I'm not happy. So I'm gonna share a little bit about each of these in depth and also some of my own thinking, but I really encourage you to read his book a new earth and particularly this section, because there's a lot more depth in that space. Let's start then with acceptance. This is where whatever we can't enjoy doing, we can at least move to accept that this is what is, and this is what we have to be doing, because it really requires us to be in some form of acceptance to move out of resistance. So for example, I may not enjoy going through our legal agreements, but I can accept that they need to be done is good for the business. And so then. Decide. Okay. I accept that these need to be done. So I'm just gonna get on and do them. And according to Eckhart, when we move to this state of acceptance, we're more at peace while we do it. And I notice this, I, I notice when I move to a place of acceptance that my energy actually rises a bit and enough to allow me to let go of the complaining. And that allows me to focus a bit more and actually get the job done to get it finished. And of course, I need to focus to get the job done because it, if I don't focus, it's not going to be done. So acceptance brings some level of release. When I do this, I notice that I'm actually going to finish my work. Acceptance is the place. The first place we go when we are doing tasks that we really don't like doing. And in some ways it's a kind of mindfulness perspective because when we are in acceptance, we are moving into a sort of present moment. We accept that in this moment, this is what we are doing and we get on and do it. When we do this repeatedly, there's a chance for us to move to enjoyment. And I'm gonna talk about that in a minute, but being an accept. Also doesn't mean that we don't change things. So sometimes what people will say to me, well, actually I really am very unhappy in my job. And so if I move to acceptance, then I might accept that I'm staying and I won't change things, but this is not how it needs to be. We can hate our job or struggle with our boss, but the negative emotions of resistance actually make the change hard. Because we are not in a creative mindset, so we can say, okay, I accept that this is my situation. And I accept that this is how it is now, but I also choose to make changes for the future. So I'm going to say. This moment, I'm here in this job. I don't like it, but I'm gonna accept it. I'm gonna find some way to accept. This is where I am now. And through the sort of letting go of the resistance, I'm going to find the creative energy to make the change, to move. Now, I know this is easier said than done, and I really needed to, uh, practice what I'm preaching here. So for my own experience, I really did a bit of thinking about this in, in the last two weeks of August, I was full in resistance. I was worrying about everything that needed to be done. I was resenting the fact that this meant I wouldn't have time for other. That I enjoy like podcasts. And during this time I was pretty miserable. I wasn't sleeping brilliantly. I was really struggling. My energy was really impacted by it. And then about two weeks ago was when I was reminded of these three ways of being. And I could see that I had some decisions to make. I knew I was below accept. So I went back to look at the list of jobs and the type of work that I had for the next four months up to December, I did quite a detailed project plan. And then I saw that I was gonna have to accept that this was my job. It really was gonna take me till early December to finish it. And that there were other things I was gonna have to let go of things that I was drawn to doing that I was wanting to do that I knew I wasn't gonna have the bandwidth to. I even accepted that I might need to let go of a weekly podcast, which was something I promised myself at the beginning of the year, but actually in the accepting that this is my lot, this is what I'm doing for the next four months. I really did find a bit of release. Actually. I found some sort of, okay, this is what's happening. I know it's gonna be like this. And I felt something shift and I'm still managing to get the weekly podcast going. So acceptance really is about us moving into that place out of resistance and moaning and complaining and saying, okay, this is what it is. I'm gonna accept. Enjoyment is when we move forward into a sense of a aliveness. This is where we are able to find joy in the work we are doing when we are in enjoyment, we're even more expansive. We may notice ourselves smiling a bit, or maybe different parts of our job become something that we are finding that joy and that moment of joy. Now if you are in resistance and you can't imagine moving to acceptance, moving to enjoyment might feel a long way off, but actually there's, there are a few little things that we can do that can help to bring it about. For example, over the course of the project, I noticed that there are actually some small things that I can really get enjoyment from when I've managed to make something work on the learning system. I've ma found myself smiling, or when. Discover that I can explain something through the program differently. It's really brought me a bit of joy. They're small moments, but when they've happened, I've kind of found myself smiling and Eckhart invites us to pause and look for that enjoyment. even when we're struggling, because often when we're struggling, what we're imagining is that when this is over, we will have enjoyment instead of looking for moments in the present to find some enjoyment. This requires a little bit of self-discipline to say, okay, is there a moment? In today that I've enjoyed it. Maybe it was a conversation with a colleague or maybe it was completing something that I was worried about or crafting an email that I was really proud of moments where we can find enjoyment. I have a small, simple reminder for this. I use the name joy as my coffee shop name. So when they ask me for my name so that I can collect my coffee later, I say joy. It's easy to spell, but also it's just a little reminder in those moments to look for joy, wherever we can find it. The final of the mentalities is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm comes when we've got a combination of clarity about our goal and our vision. And that we are aligned with our inner purpose and the work that we are doing. We have some sort of deep enjoyment for our work. So it's some form of alignment. Eckhart sums it up by saying enthusiasm comes when you have enjoyment of what you're doing combined with a goal or vision that you worked towards, and then it becomes enthusiasm. And so believe it or not, I have found small moments of enthusiasm in my current project. Once I stopped to look, I saw that actually I was enjoying some of the creating and I was imagining how it would help our students to learn how it would make their lives a bit easier because they'll have an easier system to use. I really began to become quite an enthusiastic about it and thinking, oh, this is great. And this is amazing for me because I'm talking about a technology solution and I'm a people person. And so what I notice is that when we are in enthusiasm, we're actually in our highest creative mode. If you think of being a part of a team where there was something exciting or working for a client who were making a lot of changes, you'll notice that you find that energy, there's some sort of intensity of action and willing everything to succeed. So when we are in enthusiasm, we feel like we have. And that energy is a bit contagious. We also give energy to others and we receive the energy of others. It all comes together to get something done. So we have some joy and fulfillment. Now you might be listening to this thinking I'm a long way off from enthusiasm. So I invite you then to see if you can move into a little moment of acceptance every now and again, to see what's possible. As the Zen Buddhist saying says before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. And I'm reminded of this. We all have chores and work that we don't want to do. We can't get out of that, but we can choose how we are when we are doing that work. We can choose how we approach it and we can find meaning. And even the hardest. And just a final note about this. I was actually resisting, coming to write the podcast, having bit tired. It's Friday. I should be working on my big project, but I wanted to do it. And so I sat down and I set a timer, put some music on and I kind of allowed it to happen. And guess what? Not only acceptance, but I, I found myself in enjoyment and of course, Because I'm writing about this. I've also been thinking about how do I bring more enjoyment to my project over the next few weeks? I also remember that I can be really grateful. I have a job I enjoy, I spend time thinking and creating and I get to do something that's meaningful. And I'm really grateful about that. So I invite you to think about your work and think, how can you embrace these three modalities of acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm in the coming weeks?