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How to Spark Some Joy at Work

A workday inevitably brings challenges, especially in these times. Try these tips to reignite your passion and purpose.

Finding joy at work
Credit: Getty Images

The great Dolly Parton is quoted as saying, “When I’m inspired, I get excited because I can’t wait to see what I’ll come up with next.” 

So answer me this: when was the last time you were inspired at work?

Our relationship with work is fraught these days. “The Great Resignation” has an estimated 44 percent of Americans in the “job seekers” category. The combination of remote and in-person work has changed the way we relate to each other in the workplace. And the cumulative exhaustion of more than two years of pandemic can’t help but spill over into our workdays.

Turning back to Dolly Parton’s encouraging words, I notice the joy she expresses—not about what she’s doing, but about the fact that she’s the one doing it. It’s not that she can’t wait for the next assignment to cross her desk. Instead, she’s excited “to see what I’ll come up with next.”

Bringing an attitude of joy and even play into the workplace can set you on a course to greater happiness and even productivity, according to the author and workplace happiness expert John Williams.

In a recent interview with the UK-based Metro.co.uk, Williams pointed to the value of a thoughtful but playful approach to finding joy at work. He said, “Life is fleeting; why waste it on work that has no meaning for you?” 

Williams recommends devoting some time and energy to what he terms “a play project” for just 30 days. “It’s short enough for you to experiment and not procrastinate,” he said. Without an endless amount of time to think and strategize and plan, he added, “you immediately start learning about what works and more crucially what people want from you.”

Williams’ advice is particularly helpful to people who might be eyeing a career change or side gig. But it is also a mentality that can infuse your current work life with more joy and purpose. 

What in your typical day can you start to approach with a playful spirit? Anything from break room snacks to an inspiring new way to start meetings to writing yourself a letter from your future, successful self can remind you that the most valuable thing about your work life is you.

What will you come up with next? Even Dolly Parton doesn’t know that. But if you show up to work tomorrow with excitement in your heart, you’ll find out!

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