They say if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life!
Whilst that may seem like a pipe-dream to some, we can all find ways to cultivate more joy in our working lives - without necessarily packing up everything you have worked for to date!
If you really have a passion that you long to follow and a sustainable plan to make that your living - then here at Confidence Collaborative we will be the first to congratulate and support you should you decide to give it a go... but what about the silent majority who continue day-to-day leading an ordinary working life? Aren't these lives also worthy of more joy?! How can we build more of what we love into our regular day?
Knowing Yourself - The first trick to cultivating more joy is really knowing what makes you tick in the first place. We tend to have career and life goals that we think we should be aiming for... the big promotion, landing the opportunity to work on a special project, finally receiving the recognition we deserve, the next qualification in the bag, a generous bonus and fancy car, but it can be a revelation to actually identify the things that really create in us deep feelings of joy, satisfaction and fulfilment.
Think back to your last really good day at work...
- What were you doing?
- Who was with you?
- What specifically made it good?
- How did you feel?
Maybe none of these 'big ticket' goal items featured in your 'good day'. Instead it may have been just a fun day in your team, or a day that was productive and filled with smaller moments of mini-successes... the smile of recognition from your team as you walked in, the satisfaction of completing a work project that you'd worked really hard at, or maybe the way you felt in the cut of a new outfit!
Now think about a day you really didn't enjoy - one where stress or boredom were the dominant theme.
- What were the factors that contributed to that day?
- What were you doing?
- Who was there?
Isolate the things that make a difference to you. Each one of us has a unique set of drivers and things that bring us feelings of joy, delight and satisfaction. For you it could be the quiet time with a coffee before you started work that set you up for a great day. For me, it may be the 'guilty pleasure' of a 20min break for a mid-morning walk scheduled into an otherwise busy day. Maybe the feeling of being super-organised before a workshop gives you a buzz - laying out all your equipment and knowing you had every eventuality covered. For some, working with a team makes a difference, for others it's the focus time working independently on their own piece of work that they enjoy the most.
Taking time to pinpoint what works for you is a great first start. You can do this by conducting a 'self-audit' - that is, noting each task you do and monitoring your time and associated energy and emotions over the course of a week. This can be an illuminating and useful exercise to help you really understand yourself at a micro behavioural level. You may also benefit from checking yourself against the 'Are You Headed for an Energy Crisis' questionnaire published in a Harvard Business Review article on managing energy.
Implementing strategies for more joy - finding ways to maximise the brighter moments in your day and reduce the less desirable ones can often only take a few small adjustments.
Did you feel great satisfaction at blitzing your inbox and helping people with queries? Then perhaps setting aside specific time each day to specifically focus on resolving queries and managing your mail in bulk could work for you.
If there is a colleague you especially enjoyed working with, perhaps there is another task that you can ask for their support on?
Why not make some micro level changes and test them out. You will be surprised at how quickly a few tweaks here and there to your schedule can start to impact the overall quality of your daily worklife experience!
"To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth" - Pulitzer prize-winner Pearl S. Buck
Perhaps you realise that you enjoyed most sharing your knowledge and training others. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to change career completely before increasing that joy - you could simply look out for more opportunities to make this a bigger element of your role going forward. Conversely, if there are tasks you consistently dislike, consider ways you might delegate or stop doing these altogether.
Taking time to really tune in to your own preferences, fine-tune your priorities and make your day work for you is good news for your health, your happiness and could ultimately impact your effectiveness at work too! Large-scale evidence-based studies by respected bodies such as WHO and LSE, confirm a positive correlation between well-being, productivity and firms' performance.
Remember, work doesn't have to feel like such hard work all the time - we spend a lot of our time and energy at work, so build your day around the ways of working or aspects of the role that bring most delight for you and then - enjoy yourself!
If you would like support on any of the opportunities presented in this article or you would like to explore your thinking further - then why not book a call with us and talk your thoughts through. There is no-obligation to book a coaching session as these is an inital call to assess what type of help we could offer or sign-post you somewhere else.
Maggie & Joanne