“Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life. It’s the pathway to it.” – Martha Beck
This quote has been the guiding principle throughout my career and I attribute all of my success to it.
The common misconception is that success comes from hard work and sacrifice, but in the long run, this will only lead you to burnout, feeling demotivated and completely disconnected from your role. It is only when we prioritise joy and our well-being, that we become more productive, motivated, creative and overall, a better colleague and worker. We become more successful, we attract the type of work we love and we show up for our work in the best possible way.
So here are my 5 steps to making work joyful every single day:
I’ve always felt bad for Mondays and the bad reputation they have. For me, Monday represents the beginning of a new adventure, a new week where you have the chance to be who you want, do what you want, and show up the way you want.
Mondays are here to tell you: for the next seven days, you are in control of who you want to be this week, and it all starts now!
Here are my favourite tips that helped me fall in love with Mondays:
- Schedule a fun meeting/call on Mondays - whether that’s a one-to-one with an employee or colleague who gives you energy, a client you’re looking forward to talking to or simply scheduling a call with a good friend during your lunch break, the idea is to book something in your calendar that you look forward to.
- Build a Monday morning ritual - a special latte you’re treating yourself to, a podcast you love that you’re only listening to on Monday, a perfume you adore that you only use on Mondays. Whatever it is, construct an indulgence moment that is reserved for Mondays only. For me, my Monday morning almond croissant always springs me out of bed.
- Choose a word of the week - fill in the following sentence: “This week, I am …” (kind, assertive, curious, courageous, focused, patient etc.). Give your week a theme and choose a word you’d like to describe your next seven days. Look forward to your reinvention each Monday morning.
Remember the time when you wished for the things you have now?
Have you ever taken a moment to think about how far you've come?
Do you take time to look back and see how much you’ve accomplished and how fortunate you are to have what you have?
It's easy to take things for granted when you have them, to focus on what you don't have and what you want in the future, but that makes you forget that you once wished for the things you have now.
- Take a moment to reflect and think about the things you have now that you once wished for - a great career, professional milestones you've achieved this year, work opportunities you didn’t have access to a year ago, a growing professional network, a job your teenager self would have only dreamed of, a manager who believes in you.
- Make it a habit to start your day with gratitude - write three things you are grateful for today: good night's sleep, perfectly roasted coffee, having a job, good wifi speed, great playlist on your commute, smart colleagues, bring your dog day in the office. Go deep, go random, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you priming your brain to see the good in your day.
- Send yourself encouraging messages - some days, my gratitude notes are one long thread of me patting myself on the back for the outfit I chose, the way I spoke to the bus driver, the perfect, funny meme I sent on the work chat. If it feels awkward to send yourself a positive note, know that there’s actually science to back it up: positive affirmations are powerful reminders of what you value, they help shape the way you perceive yourself in the world, and even boost your performance at work.
One of the easiest ways to create more joy in your work is by performing a Joy Audit, using the four pillars of joy:
- Places - Where do you enjoy working? Do you have a favourite place in your home where you feel you focus best? Is there a specific part of the office where you find yourself getting in flow quite easily? I know I work best when I am directly exposed to natural light, in a comfortable chair and without much noise around me. Making sure I have these elements in place helps me create my best work.
- People - Who are your most joyful colleagues? Who are those people who leave you feeling more energised, more optimistic, and more alive? How often do you interact with them? Can you prioritise spending more time with them?
- Things - What are the things in your life that bring you joy? How can you include more of them in your work routine? Whether that is frothy chocolate cappuccinos, plants on your desk, a family picture next to your laptop, natural lighting, a colourful planner, your favourite tea mug, or healthy snacks, make sure you include at least one joyful thing every day.
- Activities - What activities bring you the most joy? How often do you engage with them? It could be cycling to work, taking 30 min to walk during lunch time, maybe it’s your 3 pm tea break, public speaking, mentoring, coaching new starters, getting involved in social activities, contributing to organisational culture, teaching people a new skill.
Discover what joy is for you and start including elements of Places - People - Things - Activities in your everyday life.
Get into the habit of celebrating not just milestones but progress, commitment and effort.
Congratulate yourself on the things you do, no matter how big or small:
- learning a new tool
- completing a difficult task for the first time
- honouring a boundary that you set
- stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching out to a potential client
- putting yourself forward in a team meeting
- speaking up in a larger group
Create a habit of paying attention to the small wins - book a 10-minute slot in your calendar at the end of each day and use it to write down the wins of the day. Not only will that make you leave work with a fulfilled sense of accomplishment, but it will be a fantastic tool to use when you’re up for performance reviews. You just have a list with all your successes for the year, how cool is that?
Our truest expression of joy, laughter, comes from play. Play is the only activity humans engage in solely that produces joy.
When we play, our awareness of time diminishes and our self-consciousness fades. Play can put us in a powerful flow state which allows us to let go of everyday worries and be absorbed in the joy of the moment.
As we age, we’re told to quit playing around and we learn that seriousness is praised over joy. Most of us maintain an inner child who sneaks out once in a while and has a pillow fight, catches snowflakes on our tongue, and rides a roller coaster. The moments we let the inner child out are few and far between and we desperately need more play in our lives.
- Make room for play in your life - Most successful people I know manage to keep play time in their diaries: a recreational sport, improv comedy, a band they jam with on the weekends, a friendly game night or an hour a week they dabble into watercolours. These people often bring the spirit of playtime into their work: they play in business meetings, they bring a sense of lightness to difficult conversations, and they enhance meetings with a fun attitude.
- Ask yourself “How can I make this more fun?” - Every time you are faced with a challenging or dull task, ask yourself: How can you make this more fun? Team members taking turns bringing their favourite snacks to weekly status meetings, starting one-to-ones with a funny meme, having a daily rota of people posting a daily joke on your internal chat groups, listening to your favourite playlist when you have to do mindless admin, creating a game with yourself to see if you can finish a dull repetitive task faster than you did last time and reward yourself if you did it.
My parting words: The party lives within you! You do not need to wait for someone’s permission to enjoy your work more or wait till you hit a certain milestone to feel more accomplished in your career.
Your work is here for you to enjoy and you are now equipped with at least five different ways to make you fall back in love with your role and thrive in it more than ever before.