Work doesn’t have to be mindless drudgery. Although it is easy to fall into the routine of day-to-day activities and the many repeated actions that come with being a working professional, finding joy in your work is not impossible.
For most, deriving happiness from what they do centers around enjoying their purpose and understanding how they can contribute to the world around them. After all, the feeling of accomplishment you get from a job well done is unmatched.
To find out more, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council to share some of their own practical ways to find joy in their work, and how others could use their methods to achieve the same results. Here’s what they said:
I can proudly say that I love what I do every single day. Some days may be more enjoyable than others, but I never walk away wishing I had spent my day doing anything else. And this is because I am always reminding myself of my “why.” Why did I get into this? Why did I start this journey so many years ago? Understanding the driving force behind what I do is the key to my day-to-day happiness.
When you’re feeling unmotivated by your work, you should learn something new. You can learn new skills simply by taking an online course or spending more time reading industry publications, and constantly learning will help keep things fresh and fun. It can help you advance your career, too.
I’ve felt burned out many times as an entrepreneur, but the best way I know to find joy in the work I do is by reminding myself of the creativity that comes along with it. I keep a journal of everything that I do at work so that when I am feeling drained or bored, I can use it as a reference to spark new ideas.
Happiness is one thing, but purpose is on a completely different level. Happiness won’t sustain you through the more challenging and trying moments, but purpose will. Purpose gives deep meaning and motivation that will keep you going through thick and thin. Plus, purpose is always tied to some sort of positive impact and at the end of the day, and that’s what truly brings the most joy, anyway.
5. Appreciate the little things.
Instead of thinking about the things I want, or focusing on the things I’m not looking forward to doing, I try to step back and appreciate the little things. I think about the delicious breakfast I had this morning, the pleasant conversation with my assistant, the happy client reviews from my last job. These are things we tend to gloss over, but they contain the essence of what makes us happy.
6. Think about the benefits.
Consider the benefits that your work brings to others. Does it help them in some way? Even if it’s only the bigger picture, it still makes a huge difference if you can improve one person’s day or make things easier for them.
It’s important to realize that you won’t feel good all the time and you won’t be at your best all the time. There are many things that are out of our control, and it’s helpful to give some leeway for things to go wrong. Simply accepting change and uncertainty can improve well-being and bring a sense of peace that eventually leads to joy.
8. Find great people.
I love my career, but not every day is necessarily a walk in the park. But what I do love is that every day I come into the office and I get to spend time with my team. I truly believe I have the best team of people working around me, and I love seeing them every single day. We have all become friends, borderline family, and knowing I get to be around them makes every day worth it.
In his book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, Nir Eyal describes how we need to try to find fun even in the monotonous tasks. By looking at work with an eye of curiosity and finding novel ways to complete to-do’s, you can bring fun to the work. This will allow more room for joy and even a deeper investment in the work itself.
10. Be grateful.
Most of the time I feel an extreme amount of gratitude to be in the position I’m in, but there will always be challenges, and sometimes, in the midst of difficulty, I can start having a negative attitude. So, if I hear myself say, “I have to,” I change it to, “I get to.” Because at the end of the day, even the challenges are a blessing.
11. List five big wins.
To cultivate appreciation and gratitude, my team practices writing down “Five Big Wins in the Last 90 Days” for the company and their job. Reflecting on what we’ve accomplished individually and as a team feels really good, and helps us to stay present. I’m also a fan of the quote, “Remember when you wanted what you currently have”—it lives on the fridge in our breakroom.
12. Engage proactively in your assignments.
Many people find it easy to go on autopilot and perform work because others expect it. When you take a leap, however, and adopt assignments you like or can contribute unique value to, then you can take pride in your daily accomplishments. Then there are emotional stakes and concrete successes that you can present to your managers and co-workers. Management will also appreciate productive enthusiasm.
13. Contribute to a wider variety of projects.
As a business owner, it’s easy to stick to a routine where you focus only on areas where you can have the biggest impact. While that’s wise, it can lead to burnout. As a way to find more joy in your work, you can contribute to a wider variety of projects that challenge you to break routine and think outside of the box to solve different problems alongside different teams.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
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