Work is unavoidable. Even outside of your professional work there is always personal work to be done. Your personal work falls into 3 categories:
- Chores These are the basics you have to do daily, weekly, monthly or annually to maintain the status quo. (And to keep all your teeth.)
- Electives These are the things you choose to do that set you apart from others. (Even without tattoos and piercings.)
- Special projects These are the bigger challenges you take on that have the ability to transform you. (In non-surgical ways.)
Chores don’t come with a choice. You don’t have the option not to do them. Although you can choose not to do them well. Or often. Which drops you below the basic human level of acceptability. Which is a great way to get yourself on a TV show like Hoarders, Intervention, or My 600-pound Life. You can, however, choose to do your chores very well. Which is a good habit to get into, and sets the tone for how you approach everything else in life.
Electives are the things you do that you don’t have to do. These are the activities that separate you from others and help make you interesting. They give you flavor, like Flavor Flav. They create your differentiation and your unique advantages.
Your electives include your hobbies, and interests. They also include all of your self-education, reading, podcasts, studying and training. Your electives include exercise, cooking, and meditation. Seeing a therapist or a coach are great electives. As are writing, volunteering, coaching and creating music. If you have a hard time coming up with interests to include in your work bio, online dating profile or obituary, you probably need more electives.
If there is not much elective activity in your life then you are not doing as much as you could to create joy and competitive advantages. And you are probably not making the most of your time.
Evaluating your electives is a great place to start when evaluating your life, trajectory, happiness, and achievement. Happiness is rooted in your electives. Make sure you have them, and that you participate in them frequently enough to find enjoyment, fulfillment and growth.
Special projects create opportunities for transformation. They are often an expansion of an elective. Writing a book, going back to school and trips to an exotic location are all examples. So is starting a business, a major physical challenge, or a significant career change. Special projects often provide an inflection point in our human experience, sending us on new, better and more enlightened paths.
Make sure you are always dedicating time to your electives. They are your difference makers. They are the building blocks of an enjoyable life. They fertilize your happiness. Your electives are gateways to bigger, more important activities that can become defining events and undertakings of your life. It is hard to transition directly from chores to special projects. Your electives are the bridges that help get you there.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.