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Serotonin vs Dopamine. How many times throughout our workday are we bombarded by “urgent” requests? Constantly. And how many of these requests are related to the work we are actually supposed to be doing? Almost none of them. And yet, we constantly abandon our actual work to complete these requests all the freakin time. Why do we do this? Answer = We’re addicted to getting things done. Even if they aren’t the right things.
I saw a presentation from my CEO, Pierre Assayag, this week where he shared the drivers behind this addiction to getting the little “urgent” things done which prevent us from accomplishing our long term goals. As the chart below depicts, checking little insignificant action items off of our list (i.e. answering emails) gives us this rush of dopamine and a sudden sense of joy. But this doesn’t last long and doesn’t lead to sustainable happiness. On the other hand, if we are able to ignore the seemingly urgent little things in our workday and focus on working towards a meaningful project we will experience heightened levels of serotonin which gives us a sense of purpose and sustained happiness.
Smiling Makes You Happy… Seriously. A few months ago I met my girlfriend’s sister for the first time. She’s a great person and we hit it off… or at least I thought so. But then I heard through my girlfriend that her sister thought I was nice BUT that I didn’t smile enough. ‘Didn’t smile enough?’ I thought. What does that even mean? I always thought I was a smiler… it turns out I am not.
Since that day, I have been more conscious of when and why I smile. I’ve even started practicing to smile more (sounds ridiculous I know). But through this experiment, and thanks to my girlfriend’s sister Sony, I discovered something amazing about forcing myself to smile. It makes me happy. I’m not kidding. Smile right now and see how you feel. I always thought happiness caused us to smile, but it turns out smiling can also create happiness. Don’t believe me? Check out this article and podcast from How Stuff Works. Next time you’re in a bad mood, smile… see what happens.
30 Minutes Now Will Save You Hours Later. Abraham Lincoln once said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend four sharpening the axe.” Well I’ve never chopped down a tree (or sharpened an axe) but this quote helps me think about how I should organize my day. I used to have a bad habit where I’d get to work and start answering emails right away. I didn’t plan. I only reacted to what was in front of me.
Today, when I get to work, before opening up my laptop I take out my notebook and write down everything I want to accomplish in that day. I then prioritize the most important items by starring them. This piece of notebook paper then acts as my compass for the remainder of the day. If I get lost in small tasks I return back to the paper to see what I should be doing. Check out this article from the Time Management Ninjawhere it teaches you how spending 30 minutes at the beginning of your day planning can save you hours later. Thank you Honest Abe!
STL Vault – Article to Check Out:
5 Exercises to Help You Find What You’re Meant to Do. The reason most people never find the work they are meant to do is because they never start looking in the first place. It’s easy to let your life pass by year after year without ever stopping to ask what’s really important to you. These questions are scary and their answers could lead to a big life-changing decision. It could mean a new career, a big move, or a new business venture. But by taking the time to think this all through now, you unleash the potential to find more purposeful work and a more fulfilling life. In this article l provide five exercises that will help you begin the journey of finding what you’re meant to do.
Quote of the Week:
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh