You’re reading this during Thanksgiving weekend because hopefully, you’re taking a little time off. But let’s push that “time off” thing a little more and see how we could use these few days to make a real difference. So here’s what I suggest you do this weekend, with a “Life Lesson” attached that will make an even bigger difference in your career and calling:
1) Don’t just be thankful – express it to someone. Sure, at Thanksgiving everyone tells us to “be thankful,” but that doesn’t matter unless you put it into action. Tell your parents, children, spouse, co-worker, boss, employee, or crazy uncle Joe – somebody, how much they’ve meant to your life. It will make you feel great, and I can’t begin to tell you what it will mean to them.
Life Lesson: In your career, there are few things as important as thanking people.
2) Do the Clean Up. In fact I’m suggesting that you fight through family members and friends to get the table cleared and get to the sink. Nobody wants to clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, so this is your chance to shine.
Life Lesson: Always jump at the opportunity to do the projects nobody else wants to do, because if you do an extraordinary job, that’s the way to get noticed. Over and over I’ve seen people vault over more talented and gifted co-workers simply because they volunteered for the worst task at the office and did an amazing job with it. Trust me, people are watching.
3) Read a book. Not just Twitter posts, Facebook updates, or emails – read an actual book. Take the time to relax, find a book about something that’s always fascinated you, and spend some serious time with it. Not only will you learn something, but it will change your perspective.
Life Lesson: Never stop learning. Remember it was Michelangelo – one of the greatest artists of all time – who said, “I am still learning.” If it was important to him, it should be important to you.
4) Stop being productive. Turn off your to-do list, your timer, your calendar, and your inner cop, and just chill. I’m all for being productive, but productivity is about doing tasks, it’s not about being creative. There’s no question that creativity is about discipline and ritual, but it’s also about letting down your guard and allowing your mind to make creative connections. So take the weekend and daydream.
Life Lesson: Productivity is about clearing the decks of busy work, to make time for creative work. When you just make productivity the goal, you end up accomplishing a lot of things that don’t matter.
5) Finally, go to church. “But Phil, this is my weekend off!” I know, I know, but my most important recommendation this weekend is to get in touch with your spiritual side. There’s no better weekend than Thanksgiving to look deep into the well of your soul and ask the big questions. “Why am I here?” “What’s my purpose?” “Where am I going?” And perhaps more than anything, thank God for the good things that have happened in your life this year.
Life Lesson: All the work on the physical and mental sides of your life won’t matter much until you figure out the spiritual side. In fact, your relationship with the God of the universe is the key that opens up everything else.