“Finding Joy” in life and in business has become a trend. I am sure that 40 or more years ago, the concept of being happy in all that you do was not a prominent philosophy. Joy and happiness have become a criteria for decision making, career and job searching, and social interaction.
WHAT IS JOY?
Joy is defined in the dictionary as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
A google search for “finding joy” turns up The Bible (1 THESSALONIANS 5:16,“Be joyful always”), several blogs and self-help websites, including Oprah’s website and HuffPost, which has an article about joy that states that, “Joy is what makes life beautiful.” There are books about joy, including The Book of Joy which I have been digesting over the past few months in audiobook format. And podcasts, and e-courses and more, like this blog post on No Sidebar by Hilary Barnett, which tells us, “Joy doesn’t just happen. You have to dig for it.” Joy should even guide us when we clean out and organize our closets, as we are told in the best selling book, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo.
Joy is also an attitude, a religion, a choice. If I can be cynical: “Joy” has also become a business. If I can be bold: Joy is a privilege.
WHEN JOY SHOULD NOT COME FIRST
I do not intend to get political or to over-generalize societal norms. What I will note is that we have now been told to expect – to demand – joy in all things, so much so that it has become an entitlement. Not all things in life are fun and we should not expect everything we do to make us happy. Some things are out of our control, and some joyless things have to be done in order for us to be happy later.
Marie Kondo says that if a piece of clothing or household item does not “spark joy,” then we should get rid of it. If every decision we make is based on whether or not we will be happy, we might never get anything done. Some things are not in and of themselves joyful experiences. If we had unlimited resources, we could probably avoid doing 90% of the things in our life that do not bring us joy by hiring others to do them for us, but there will always be unpleasant things like colonoscopies and pap smears that cannot be outsourced!
Joy is primarily defined as a feeling, and we cannot always control our feelings. We can decide to have a positive outlook and try to find joy in all things. We might, for example, make a great effort to approach a difficult or unpleasant situation with an open mind, such as attempting to convince ourselves that paying our taxes is really a joyful experience because we are contributing to society and have so much to be grateful for. Good luck with that when the tax bill is way more than you expected and you are stressed about paying your rent or your employees. Joy cannot be forced.
JOY IN BUSINESS
I am lucky enough to enjoy the career I have chosen right now. That does not mean I find joy in every task or that I am always happy. I have had jobs that did not spark any joy because I needed a paycheck and could not be guided by what made me happy.
Many of us who enjoy what we do will admit that often there are aspects of our job that we do not enjoy. In some cases, we may be able to delegate or outsource those tasks to maximize the time we spend on things we enjoy. I recently participated in a SEO Mastermind class with Rebecca Gill. One of the first exercises she had us do was go over a checklist of SEO-related tasks and to rate our skill level and joy level for each. The point was that we should find someone else to do the things we do not enjoy. We all agreed, however, that we still needed to learn and understand those tasks – and that in that process we might discover that we enjoy some more than we thought we would, and if not, that at least we would have the knowledge: a) to know how to talk to clients about these things and; b) to ensure that the person we designate to do them is qualified and does a good job.
MAKE A PLAN
I recently made a list of all the tasks I do to run my business in order to help me determine which tasks could be outsourced, scheduled to do less often, or dropped. It was very insightful. You can create your own list and do the same thing. You can divide the list into categories:
- Emailing/Responding to Emails
- Reading industry news/blogs
- Business tasks such as managing licenses, trademarks, contracts, etc.
- Participating on Social Media
- Attending meetings
- Attending conferences
- Speaking at meetings & conferences (preparing presentations)
- Maintaining contact & following up with prospects
Tasks Related Specifically to What You Do
(e.g., performing surgery, selling widgets, repairing broken pipes, hammering nails into wood, etc.)
- Cooking meals
- Grocery shopping
- Walking the dog
- Washing & folding laundry
- Emptying the cat box
- Vacuuming house
- Cleaning bathrooms
Rank these items from 1-5, with 5 being the things you like to do most. Then rank them based on how often they are performed. Try to find a way to outsource or eliminate your 1’s and 2’s, or to establish some processes to make them more automated. Put those things you least like to do first on your daily/weekly/monthly plan to get them out of the way if you can.
Taking control of your time and making a plan will help create more time and energy for the things that bring you joy.