Radical Sabbatical

From stifling ruts to a life without boundaries

Punxsutawney Phil, CEO

Could this movie actually teach us about greater fulfillment at work?

By Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo, authors of Radical Sabbatical

On February 2nd, a fat, furry futurist will exit his coop at Gobbler’s Knob and yield his meteorological predictions for the coming weeks. Will we shiver or shed our winter clothes to enjoy the outdoors?

But Groundhog Day metaphor has shifted meaning over the past two decades. How many times have you heard, “I feel like every day is Groundhog Day?” Now what did a marmot coming out of a hole ever have to do with déjà vu?

This speaks to the meaningfulness of Groundhog Day, the movie. It transformed an age-old metaphor into something completely different. It is a movie about what keeps us going in life versus what sinks our spirit. It is a movie about the choices we make every day and their worth. It is a movie about monotony versus purpose.

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For those who are plot-rusty, Phil Connors, the weatherman, is self-centered, to say the least. He feels bigger at the expense of his colleagues and lacks any passion for his job, despite its ability to reach so many. Then, he becomes trapped in an endless loop of an identical day—Groundhog Day. Only when he embraces improving himself for the benefit of others is he able to move on with a fulfilling life.

Why did this movie strike such a chord that it changed the meaning of a household metaphor? It made time stand still for a man to see what a monotonous creature he was and showed him the key to exiting monotony—purpose. And as it were, fellow Psychology Today writers agree with us.

Ironically, you instinctively seek monotony because you are programmed to master and standardize your daily tasks to conserve energy. That’s the trap. So when you find yourself in a cloud of monotony, it’s unfortunately largely your own doing. So how do you exit that cloud? Purpose!

Take your job, for instance. It’s no coincidence that this is the part of life most rife with monotony. After all, corporate America is all about streamlining and optimizing to maximize productivity. Once you can do your job in your sleep, you advance to the next level. And with your instinctive programming, you gladly launch yourself into a pit of boredom, climbing the corporate ladder with the fruits of your labor. That might be good enough for you. If not, read on.

Truly, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can show your bosses mastery of your craft without constantly wanting to press the eject button. All you need is a little purpose, and you will navigate your day (and your promotion) swimmingly. Here are a few tips to do so:

  • Hone your work goals toward your true purpose – Do you look at your company's goal-setting process as an arduous formality? Do you list things the company would like to see you achieve versus what truly fulfills you? The two are not mutually exclusive. For example, you might have a passion for teaching and developing others. Could you get out there and teach colleagues that which you have already mastered? Could you arrange a service day for your co-workers and you to give to your favorite charity?
  • Take a walk – This one is a classic but important. We need to connect with others on a fundamental level. We feel good when they laugh at our jokes, smile when we’ve done something nice for them, and gloat in sharing each other’s emotions and success. Don’t be a robot. Get up to get a coffee or water at least twice a day in a place prone to socializing.

  • Bookmark social/event calendars in your area – This will remind you that you work to play. Bookmark ticket sites and event and social calendars on the internet. Put a reminder in your agenda to check them once per week. Don’t get mired with the routine of work. Keep your eye on non-work activities that excite you. You will find yourself doing more thrilling and fun things, and one of our purposes in life is to have fun and be thrilled.

  • Practice gratitude – How do you really experience gratitude at your job? Simply plaster your work area with pictures, words, and mantras reminding you what your job has enabled you to do. Pictures of your spouse, children, and other loved ones can remind you that they are comfortable and better educated because you work. Photos of recent thrilling vacations can also keep you keepin’ on.

  • Find purpose in the moment – Our jobs are rife with opportunities to help others. For example, you see hundreds of emails fly across your desktop each day sent by people with real problems, many of them reaching you because you might have something to offer. Whenever you find yourself choking on monotony, think back to those e-mails you ignored for someone else to take care of. Jump in and provide a good, concrete solution to help someone feel satisfied with what they do.

The monotony that plagues the workplace these days is quite avoidable. Just infuse your days with purpose and you may just see a warm, bright future instead of a constant frigid winter.

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Radical Sabbatical, an Amazon Kindle bestseller by Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo, is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com.

Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo are the authors of Radical Sabbatical and help overworked professionals of all ages build the tenacity required to make permanent life changes.

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