This review first ran in the June 22 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
By Tom Rath
Ask yourself three questions later tonight.
Did you spend most of your day doing meaningful work?
Did you fill your day with lots of positive interactions with your colleagues, family and friends?
And did you sustain a high level of energy from morning to night?
Answer yes and you’re likely ending your day with a full charge that will carry over into tomorrow. That’s good news for you and your employer.
“When you are fully charged, you get more done,” says Tom Rath, researcher and author of Are You Fully Charged and the best-selling Strengthsfinder 2.0. “You have better interactions. Your mind is sharp, and your body is strong. On days when you are fully charged, you experience high levels of engagement and well-being.”
If you answered no, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
Rath and his team surveyed 10,000 people and found that only 20 per cent had spent most of their day doing meaningful work, 16 per cent had positive interactions with others and just 11 per cent reported having a great deal of energy.
“Most people are operating well below their capacity,” says Rath. “As a result, they are less effective in their work. Their interactions with friends and family are nowhere near as good as they could be. And their physical health worsens as days with too much stress and too little activity accumulate.”
According to Rath, you don’t turn things around with a one dramatic change. You start taking a few small steps every day on three fronts. Do something that benefits another person. Create far more positive than negative moments. And make smart choices that improve your mental and physical health.
Start approaching work as a purpose rather than a place and find a calling that’s higher than cash. Be leery of anyone who extols the pursuit of happiness and tells you to follow your passion.
If you want to make a difference, start first by asking what the world needs. “Those who make a profound difference begin by asking what they can give,” says Rath. “Starting with this question allows you to direct your talents toward what matters most for others.”
To strengthen interactions with colleagues, family and friends, aim to be 80 per cent positive, says Rath. Put away your digital pacifier and only use your phone when you’re alone. Give people your undivided attention.
Spend money on experiences with the people who matter most rather than buying more stuff. “There is no better use of your financial resources than to spend them on meaningful experiences with other people. This may be the single most important discovery about how to use money effectively.”
To boost your energy, put your own health first. Start making smarter choices every day about what you eat, how often you move and how long you sleep. A study by the Harvard Medical School found sleep deprivation is costing the American economy $63 billion a year in lost productivity. Sitting at a desk or in meetings for eight hours a day will both destroy your soul and wreck your health.
“You have a limited number of days to make a difference,” says Rath. “Embrace the fact that you need to infuse a lot of good into this world while you can. You have the opportunity to decide how you will spend your time. Start with work that creates meaning. Invest in each interaction to strengthen your relationships. Make sure you have the energy you need to be your best.”
The questions at the back of Rath’s book will help you be honest about where you’re at and where you need to start making small changes that add up to getting you fully charged. Start making those changes today. LIfe’s short.