It’s time to create space for the things that bring you joy.
And here’s why I know this to be true…
After the birth of my daughter, I quickly returned to work. I spent the entire first year of her life working, traveling and building my business. Caught up in my own busyness and striving to achieve some idealized notion of success, I painfully realized on her first birthday that I had few real, joyful memories from that year.
It was in that moment that I made the decision to live differently – as a parent and an entrepreneur. I wanted to savor the small joys of each day, to be as present and engaged in this moment and to no longer let busyness drive my life.
Why does this matter?
When you pursue your joy, you’re living the fullest expression of self-care, what you need to take care of not only your time, attention, and energy – but also your happiness. Think about how much more productive, impactful, and powerful you are when you’re operating from that place?
Decline or shorten a meeting.
Moments of joy often require that we are fully present to our life and not merely reacting to the deluge of calls, emails and to dos that come our way. To be more present in the here and now you need some space on your calendar. Open up your calendar and look at your meetings for this week. Select one and answer the questions below:
· Will this meeting assist you in achieving your goals?
· How does the purpose of the meeting align with your organization’s strategic priorities?
· What contribution can you make in the meeting?
· Will anyone even notice if you are not present?
· Will this meeting be energizing, or will it suck the life right out of you?
· Will this meeting be a rehash of the last five meetings you attended?
· Is attending this meeting the highest and best use of your time right now?
If you answer no to one of these questions, decline the meeting. Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else.
Clear the mental clutter.
Mental clutter – that incessant voice in your head reminding you of things to do, emails to respond to and meetings to schedule – is stealing some of your joy. It is hard to be joyful when you are constantly being pulled away from the present moment. Clear the mental clutter by doing a brain dump.
Think about everything you need to do, personally and professionally. Imagine turning your brain upside down and emptying out its contents onto paper, a whiteboard, or into the computer program of your choice. The goal is to get all the to-dos and ideas out of your head and into the physical world. Once your to-dos are in the physical world your mind is free to think about things, not of things – exactly what it was intended for. As your mind begins to quiet you will find yourself able to be a little more present and to notice the simple pleasures in your life – those simple pleasures that make you smile and bring you joy. Clear the mental clutter and reclaim your joy.
Create a stop doing list.
As your responsibilities continue to expand at work and in life, you keep adding tasks and projects to your to do list. However, as that list grows, you’ll notice something – you’re never taking anything off of the list, and THAT is the antithesis of joy.
Take a hard, critical look at your projects and tasks and ask yourself if each project is still relevant. Are the tasks directly tied to your goals or your organization’s goals? There are probably a few tasks and projects lurking on your list that need to be moved to the stop doing list. No one is going to miss them. Remove the things are no longer relevant, aligned to your goals and are creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. Create space for the things that bring you joy.
Get into a work flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described flow as a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. And he asserted that a hallmark of flow is a feeling of joy while performing a task. To get into flow, batch or group like tasks. For example, group all of your phone calls together, email correspondence, data analysis, or writing. When you perform the same type of task it is easier for you to concentrate and fully immerse yourself in what you are doing.
Stop shoulding all over yourself.
The shoulds are those voices in your head—you know the ones—saying “You should be doing this,” “You should like that,” “You should spend time on this,” “You should stop doing that,” and so on—endlessly. The problem with the shoulds is that they can easily become a runaway train, robbing you of joy and completely undermining your ability to get clear and focused on what you need. To combat the shoulds, use the P.O.W.E. R. No.
Here’s how to use it:
Priorities: When that voice in your head tells you that should complete this task, lead another project, attend another meeting, or make cupcakes from scratch, evaluate the priority of that message. How does this ‘should’ align to your priorities, your organization’s strategic priorities and/or your families’ priorities?
Opportunities: Explore the opportunities. What opportunities does this ‘should’ create for you? Is there something that does actually need additional attention in your life? This ‘should’ could be shining a light on something that you need to address.
Who: Who or what triggered this ‘should’? Was it an old script from childhood? Was it an ad in a magazine? Was it your colleague?
Expectations: Whose expectations are these really? Your manager? Your mother? Your spouse? Your child? Society’s?
Real: Get real. What is this ‘should’ really about? Are there real priorities that are driving this ‘should’? Or are you taking on societal expectations that are not in alignment with your priorities?
The P.O.W.E.R. No enables you to think carefully and critically about all of the shoulds so that you can consciously and thoughtfully respond. Just say no and stop shoulding all over yourself.
Your life with a lot more joy awaits you.
It’s real. It’s possible.
Carson Tate, author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Productivity Style, www.carsontate.com.