finding your sweet spot at work

is this a sweet spot?

what is a sweet spot?

Many years ago, I took a couple of golf lessons. Yep, laugh all you want, but at least I tried! There’s one thing that stuck with me: finding the sweet spot. In golf the sweet spot is the best surface on the club face that, if you strike the ball right there, you’ll hit a beautiful drive. Yeah, right! Let’s just say I could see the sweet spot, but could not execute on the theory. Now I just like to golf on those courses with the windmills – if you know what i mean.

sweet spot for work

What I took away from that experience, was that there is a sweet spot in other areas of your life – like work. No, really. There is! Stay with me on this.

Do you feel under utilized? overworked? bored? have a general feeling of angst in your daily work? I know why… you? You’re feeling angst because you are not working in your sweet spot.

sweet spot for achievement

The sweet spot in work is finding just the right amount of challenge where you are engaged but not overwhelmed.

Take a look at the graph below relating your performance to your level of stress / arousal. If you would take a snapshot of your performance and stress level today at work, where would you plot yourself? Go ahead and put a dot on the bell curve where you feel you are right now.

Left of the sweet spot is Boredom: If you are not challenged (under utilized) you’ll be experiencing low stress (distress) because of boredom and lack of motivation. You’ll find it difficult to focus on your work. This could lead to bad decision making, missed deadlines, and generally poor quality of work.

In this situation, you need to take on a little more challenge at work. Maybe be asked to join a project team for a new product you’re not familiar with, or take a class to learn a new skill.

Right of the sweet spot is Anxiety: If you put yourself on the higher end of stress, you are experiencing too much challenge and stress. You may not have the skills or the bandwidth necessary to complete your work.

In this scenario it’s a good idea to prioritize, delegate, and look into how you can gain the skills necessary to meet the challenge.

Center – The Sweet Spot is Optimal Cognitive Efficiency: Right in the middle is the sweet spot. You have just enough challenge to keep you interested and motivated, but not enough to overwhelm you.

So if you look at where you are on any given day at work, is there room for improvement? What can you do today to make the adjustment to get closer to your sweet spot. Once you are there – the rewards are truly – sweet!


This post influenced by two books that I recommend: