Build Your Productive Situation


Productivity, earnings, and success grow from working smart and working hard. But they grow much faster and better when you root smart, hard work in a nurturing environment.

In this piece, I’d like to help you understand the elements of a nurturing environment, and suggest some ways to review and possibly improve yours.

Nurture Your Capabilities

A primary element of a nurturing environment is how well or how poorly it meshes and interacts with your capabilities, including your skills, your knowledge, your talents, and all the rest.

A good nurturing environment scores high on two important dimensions:

  1. It makes the fullest possible use of your current capabilities. You get to confront exciting challenges, do your best work, produce your best results, and feel maximum enjoyment from your daily activities.  
  2. It provides a steady stream of opportunities to upgrade your capabilities. This includes putting you in the path of highly demanding challenges, rising standards for both your efforts and your results, as well as interesting, new payoffs that you appreciate.

If you are not fully utilizing your capabilities, and if you aren’t regularly expanding those capabilities, your environment needs improvement.

You can maximize these two considerations by looking for opportunities to do more of what you’re good at, and to get better at doing tasks and projects you care about. At the same time, you can try to arrange your environment so you’re called upon to do less of all the rest.

Nurture Your Values

Your work and your life are – or at least should be – reflections of your values. Elsewhere, I’ve discussed ways to update and improve your values. But here we’re thinking about changing your environment to reflect the values that you already hold and feel comfortable with.

Along the same lines I mentioned above, the key is to put more time and energy into tasks and projects that reflect your values, and less into all the rest.   

This is important because using your capabilities and expending your effort in service of values you don’t support or appreciate tends to drain you, both emotionally and spiritually. It’s a sure path to disappointment and eventual burnout.

On the other hand, pushing forward on tasks and projects that reflect your values will tend to make you happier and more fulfilled.

Nurture Your Earnings

If you’re not satisfied with your earnings, you’ll feel under pressure to do more, including possibly more of what you wish you didn’t have to do. This is another direct path to dissatisfaction and burnout.

Finding ways to increase your earnings is a complex subject that’s beyond the scope of this piece. But it’s a goal that’s often within reach. Fortunately, information on this topic is widely and readily available.

Nurture Your Daily Life

Within your work and your life, your daily life is paramount. If your work interferes with the satisfaction you obtain from your daily life, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s important to make any needed adjustments to your work-related routines, obligations, and schedule so they support and leave room for the good times and central activities you want in your daily life. I’m talking about your family, your friends, your interests, and your sources of fulfillment and rejuvenation.

There’s a great deal of information about finding a good balance in your work and your life. Part of that balance should include considerations of the simple pleasures, responsibilities, and events of your daily life.

Nurture Your Drive

Somewhere inside you is the engine that drives you to set and accomplish your goals, meet your obligations, and grow to meet the future. This drive tends to determine your ability to be productive and successful: when it weakens, your results diminish; when it strengthens, they increase.

However, it’s not easy to increase your drive level directly. That’s a big reason why it’s important you create and sustain an environment in which you feel good about what you’re doing, and about how you’re applying your personal resources to your tasks, projects, and goals.

It turns out that you can significantly influence your drive level by fine tuning your environment to nurture your capabilities, values, earnings, and daily life.

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