Finding Balance at Work How to figure out what you really want out of work

Do you sometimes feel out of balance at work? That you are putting in a lot of hours, but not getting what you want out of it? 

If this sounds familiar, I can highly recommend a concept called the “Maker Mix”. 

The Maker Mix is a concept from the book Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The idea is that there are three rewards we can get out of work: 

  • Impact: making a difference for others
  • Stimulation: enjoying work for its own sake 
  • Money: being well-paid for what you do

However, you only have 100 percentage points that you get to allocate between these three buckets. 

If you have to decide between:

Impact vs Stimulation vs Money

…What does the ideal balance look like for you?

This concept is so deviously simple and yet so powerful at the same time. When I did the practice myself (my Maker Mix is – Impact: 75%, Stimulation: 15%, Money: 10%) I found three immediate benefits:

  1. I got crystal clear about my work life identity
    I had always prioritized work that made an impact. But actually seeing specific numbers made me feel like someone was holding up a mirror to my face and I could see myself for the first time. I had been hiding from my true feelings. Seeing the numbers on paper helped me say: “Yes, this is who I am!”.
  2. I can easily see what I need to work on
    With my Maker Mix in hand, I can now look at five different tasks and instantly see which one best suits my work balance. It is like having a compass that always helps me find my true north. The Maker Mix also helps me stay the course. When I feel the work is boring, I remind myself: “Henrik, you chose to set Impact at 75% and Stimulation at 15%. This is what you signed up for. Because you care more about helping others than enjoying yourself.” This reminder serves like rocket fuel that helps me power through those moments.
  3. I can share my work identity with others
    In addition to being clearer myself, I can now communicate who I am and what my goals at work are with others.

I should also clarify out two important points about the Maker Mix that you ought to know:

  • There is no “right” Maker Mix
    Just like there is no “right” personality, everyone’s Maker Mix is unique and may vary widely. One of my friends chose his Maker Mix as – Impact: 10%, Stimulation: 10%, Money: 80%. Another chose her Maker Mix as – Impact: 33.3%, Stimulation: 33.3%, Money: 33.3%. Which is “right”? Both… and neither. They are the perfect mix for each of my friends respectively. But they are not the right mix for everyone. The “right” mix is the one that is right for you.
  • Your Maker Mix changes over time
    The Maker Mix is a reflection of your personality and needs, which will continuously change over time. Right now, I can afford to have Money at 10% because my living costs are so low. But as I will start a family, my need for Money will become a greater priority. It is important to check in with yourself now and then – especially when your life is going through a big change – to see if your Maker Mix needs updating.

What does your Maker Mix look like? I encourage you to take 60 seconds to reflect on this. This one minute might be the one of most impactful of your life!

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