One of the first things people ask me when I tell them that I started this social enterprise is, "Do you have an office space?" It might be because I came from the world of real estate and urban planning where co-working spaces and commercial space were common terms. Or, people think deep conversations on purpose should take place in dark, wood-paneled rooms with stuffed, leather armchairs.
As someone who worked for years in an office that had no natural light and only grey cubicle walls, I found myself craving sunlight, beautiful decor, color, historic architecture, and greenery.
Now that I could craft my own workspace as an entrepreneur, I decided to reflect on what office space I currently have and then share some tips on how to make the best of your current office situation, if it happens to be just a bit dreary and uninspired.
I'm now blessed to be spending a lot of time in...
>> Coffeeshops - the home of the entrepreneur seeking variety and freedom. With numerous meetings and coffee chats in Manhattan now, I spend most of my time working in cafes because I don't have a set office space (other than when I work at home). Like many entrepreneurs now, I'm amassing a mental map of places throughout the city with good wi-fi, nice decor, ambiance, iced tea (because I don't drink coffee) and restrooms.
Favorites: Financier Patisserie at 35 Cedar St. in Lower Manhattan for their madeleines and French decor; Maison Kayser for their delectable almond croissants and booth seating; and, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near City Hall for their cheerful customer service and variety of seating types.
>> Restaurants - nothing beats deep conversations about purpose over good food. Whenever I do a purpose reading, I always ask my client to recommend their favorite quiet restaurant, one that won't rush us for our intuitive purpose reading and coaching session. Having done 41 of these purpose sessions so far, I've had the immense joy of sharing delicious meals with people while discussing purpose and sharing my lessons learned, as if we're old friends talking about the meaning of life.
The great thing about New York City restaurants is that nobody cares what other people are talking about at the next table over. In fact, it is highly likely that most of the conversations in a given restaurant touch upon how people are seeking better jobs, relationships, and more purpose, but who don't know what to do. It feels both anonymous as well as touching when you notice the shared humanity in all of us, looking to be happy and be connected to something greater than us.
This will likely change over time once I reach a point of needing office space (and I certainly rent private spaces if absolute quiet is necessary), but talking over a meal together will always be part of the initial purpose reading experience when clients discover their soul's purpose.
Favorites: Qi, a Thai restaurant near Times Square with remarkably elegant decor and delicious food; Japonica near Union Square with an amazing bento box dinner; and, Souvlaki, a cute Greek island getaway in the Lower East Side.
>> Art, nature, and community spaces - how you inspire me! I grew up going to my neighborhood public library when I was a kid, so the first thing that I did was to reactivate my New York Public Library card and try out these free workspaces whenever I was in between meetings. I finally checked out the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which is my new favorite office (can you imagine that despite growing up in NYC, I never actually went inside this iconic building??). Next time you're in the Bryant Park area, I recommend doing the audio tour to fully appreciate its architectural history and saying hello to Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues out front.
Another new favorite is the beautifully renovated Mulberry Street library in SoHo (pictured at the top of the page), with brick-walled reading rooms, high ceilings and armchairs, all in a former chocolate factory. I've also eagerly embraced the natural light and fresh air of doing work outdoors when the weather is nice. I've worked at a waterfront park on Roosevelt Island overlooking the Manhattan skyline as the sun set, and have taken a break at the High Line to revel in the seamless combination of native plants, architecture, and public art.
Favorites: New York Public Library's Schwarzman Building at Bryant Park; Mulberry Street library in SoHo, and the city's beautiful parks.
Here are some tips to live a transformed life in your office environment --
1. Set your intention to visualize your ideal environment, and then create it. Physical spaces have energy. Take the time to notice what places inspire you. You may discover that your day-to-day may be missing some element of sunlight, colorful decor or quiet beauty that naturally makes you feel calm, creative or balanced. Reflect on what your ideal physical place to work is. Humans are like plants. We crave an environment that allows us to flourish, and it is up to us to determine what inputs go into creating this positive environment for each of us.
For me, it's sunlight, variety, the ability to come and go as I please, and architectural beauty. For you, it might mean that you love the smell of soil and need to have more plants nearby, or that you need to give yourself permission to take breaks outside because walking without a destination in mind actually lets you think more creatively. (All of these have come up in various intuitive purpose readings before).
Know what you want, down to the minute detail of your ideal workspace and how you'd FEEL when you're there. Then, go out and have fun creating what you desire.
2. Rely on your intuition to guide you to beautiful or helpful resources. I tend to rely on chance to let me pass by a neighborhood library or a cute pocket park where I can be present or take a sound meditation break (when you focus on listening to each sound, like the birds singing, the sound of people chatting, the rumbling of the subway, etc).
You know that fantastic public space pictured above? Recently, my inner voice said, "You know, you really want to check out the Schwarzman Library. You've somehow never been there and you grew up in New York City!" Other people would then mention this library to me in multiple conversations, and then the thought kept popping up repeatedly. Finally, after all these signs, I heeded the inner voice weeks later and made time to go. And of course, I loved it! I was like a kid in a candy store.
I also rely on chance to find books that seem to "pop" out at me while I browse at a library or bookstore. My husband happened to find a book on interpreting financial statements the Warren-Buffett-way that was hidden in a stack of books about writing and publishing. He immediately picked it up because it was so out of place that it felt like a sign. He also happened to be thinking about the topic at the time!
3. Never underestimate the power of inspiring spaces. Some people just get used to working in a dreary environment and think they just don't have time to do anything about it. Do not give in to your ego's attempts to rationalize this away!
One of my clients wanted to replace the carpeting in her office, and she was surprised at how quickly it was done after she decided to put in a request for it. I'm sure other people would have made up all sorts of excuses, saying their boss wouldn't like it, or the company wouldn't pay for it, but it never hurts to try. You might be surprised at what is already budgeted in, or what lengths a company is willing to go to retain happy employees.
Remember that what you do to your workspace can easily affect your mood. Getting rid of clutter is one way to freshen up appearances and allow for more breathing room (literally). Adding colorful photos of your family and pets can do wonders. Adding light is also essential. It could be one of those full spectrum lamps that provide natural light, or even a cute nightlight from Ikea (below) will work.
I actually put this nightlight on my desk and it made my day every time I looked at it and turned it on. Even the smallest tweaks that you do to your workspace -- with your happiness in mind -- will make a huge difference.
What are your best places to work? What kind of workspace do you crave? What changes, small or large, do you want to make (or have already made) that made a difference in your mood? Share your suggestions so that other people can benefit from your ideas!