Most of us have been trained to think about our work in a logical, left-brained manner. Logic obviously is vital to the thinking process, but we can vastly expand our understanding by learning to take a wider view of our work lives.
In addition to thinking about the various aspects of your work -- the projects you're involved with, the contribution you make, your coworkers, salary, vacation days, benefit packages -- from a right-brain perspective, learn to intuit how a given job will fit into the overall pattern of your life now and through time.
For example, take a moment right now to think about your job or an aspect of your work. Maybe you're creating a marketing plan for a new product you're launching, deciding how to approach the boss about a new idea, or taking a certain approach with a grant proposal.
Perhaps you get a pleasant sense in your spine or at the top of your head or a calming vibration that literally moves through your fingers and toes when you consider a certain path. These obviously positive feelings are ways that your intuition is saying, "Yes!"
A negative response might be a feeling of heaviness, or of being stuck. This type of response, which you should pay attention to, is your intuition saying, "No way!"
The best inventors, businesspeople, scientists and those in any other field of endeavor become the best because they have learned to trust that inner guide. Henry Ford persisted with his inner sense that the internal combustion engine could be made small enough to fit under the hood of a car, when all the scientific evidence of the time said it absolutely could not. Albert Einstein relied on "fingerspitzengefuhl," which means the feeling you get in the tips of your fingers. The objective is to approach a decision by fitting it into the overall pattern of your life. Step back and take the long view: How will the decision you're making affect you, your family, your long-term goals, your spiritual side, your health? View all those aspects in relationship to each other, see their interconnectedness, and learn to intuit what will support the pattern as a whole. For example, what good does it do you to work evenings and weekends for two years to vastly improve the profits of your department if you lose your marriage in the process? What good does it do you to get the approval of your boss if your health is in danger because you're working too hard? How do you or your community benefit if the work you do contributes to environmental waste and pollutes the lake you used to swim in? With each step you take, ask yourself, both logically and intuitively, how it affects your health, your well-being, your environment. If you sense adverse effects, step back and come up with a different approach. Elaine St. James is the author of Simplify Your Work Life (Hyperion, 2001). Copyright 2001 Elaine St. James, Universal Press Syndicate. - - - - - "Can't get no satisfaction?" Find out how happy you really are with your job. Take the test.