5 Ways to Spark Joy at Work

Happy woman at work.

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Try out these expert tips to find meaning and connection on the job.

In Marie Kondo’s best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, she asks us to place our hands on each thing we own and then ask ourselves, “Does this spark joy?”

From our T-shirts to our teacups, from our books to our pocketbooks—if the item sparks joy, keep it and store it in a place that’s accessible. If it doesn’t spark joy, Marie advises we get rid of it.

Now, imagine if we asked ourselves this same question—does this spark joy?—when it comes to our jobs. For some of us, work and joy in the same sentence may seem like an oxymoron, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask yourself these questions: Where do you gain meaning? What at your work leads you to do your best? Where do you have joy?

As executive coaches and authors of Profit from the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business, we believe your job can spark joy for you. When we asked people we were coaching or have coached what brought them joy at work, here were the top five responses:

1. HELPING OTHERS

Be it solving a customer’s problem, coaching an employee or collaborating with a teammate. “There’s nothing better than helping someone to reach their full potential and then watching them shine!”

What can you do? 

Lend a helping hand. Don't ask, “Can I help?” Instead ask, “How can I help?” Offer your guidance not only for work that needs to be accomplished but also for career advice.

2. GIVING AND RECEIVING RECOGNITION

Whether it’s giving positive feedback to colleagues or receiving it. “The icing on the cake would be that my work is appreciated and valued by others.”

What can you do?

Recognize co-workers for a job well done—it not only brings them joy and boosts their productivity but also makes you feel good.

3. MAKING FRIENDS

Building relationships with people at work: “Colleagues who have become friends” and “people who care about your well-being and your work.”

What can you do?

Connect with people you enjoy. Seek out people who fill you up rather than those who drain your energy.

4. FEELING A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT

Making a difference by “delivering on a commitment that meets or surpasses the customer’s expectation,” and “creating something bigger than myself.”

What can you do?

Recraft your job. Recrafting means any change—large or small—you can make that allows you to use your strengths even more.

5. WORKING WITH A TEAM

“Joy is being on a team that has a common mission and everyone is giving of themselves to accomplish the same goal.”

What can you do?

Look for opportunities to collaborate with others, even if you work remotely or solo.

And remember, if no joy can be found in your current job, it’s time to put on your explorer’s hat and see what else is out there. Life is too short not to find joy at work.


MARGARET H. GREENBERG and SENIA MAYMIN, Ph.D., are sought-after executive coaches, speakers and positive psychology practitioners. Find them at ProfitFromthePositive.com.

From the September 2016 issue of Live Happy magazine.

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