The past month we’ve done our 4-week Joy at Work challenge on Instagram. Our goal was to provide simple activities done every day to tidy up our work lives and discover purpose along the way. The world around us is figuratively and literally ablaze, and our industry sometimes feels like a dumpster fire that won’t go out.
These past four weeks we focused on areas of work where we have control. My friend and DJ extraordinaire, Ray Jarrell, posted on IG a few months ago a line that summarized perfectly the real challenge we all face right now. It’s a quote from Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
None of us can control the way the world moves. Believe me, I’ve tried. No matter how good our ideas are, how many hours we work, how much we care, or who we know, the planet spins on. I don’t see this as a defeatist’s attitude. It’s simply practical.
In the aftermath of the pandemic’s first round of crushing cancellations and postponements, I talked a lot on our IG morning show, “More Cowbell,” about loss and grief. For you Kübler-Ross fans out there, you’ll recognize the stages as:
Others may follow a different model with more or less stages, but it’s all about the same effect on us. Many people stuff the emotions and never fully deal with the impact these feelings have on us. Others stall along the way and find themselves stuck for years. The healthy way is through.
We’ve all lost these past six months. Loved ones, financial security, personal freedom, and even hope. It’s been tough, harder for some than for others. No matter the road you’ve travelled through the pandemic, you’ve still got to get through if you want your business to succeed.
Move forward more light-hearted
Hope comes in many forms. If it’s a feeling for a desired outcome, that’s great. But it’s not the way there. Hope shouldn’t be your business strategy. Simply wanting or expecting something to happen doesn’t make it so. If you want to reach your goals it’s best to have a plan, especially during times of crisis.
The four-week challenge we just wrapped was the prep work for the real work ahead of us all.
Week 1 – Declutter and clean out physical space
Week 2 – Organize our computers and email
Week 3 – Get control of our phones and spark joy 50x/day
Week 4 – Manage your time and your network
A few days were a beast. Most were fairly approachable. All were helpful to move through the past, take the best of what we wanted from it, and instill in us the habit of, as Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Joy at Work, says, “keeping with confidence” and “giving away with gratitude.”
Wax on, wax off
This past month on “More Cowbell,” I compared the work we did to Daniel-son in the Karate Kid original. Mr. Miyagi makes him wax the cars, paint the fence, and sand the deck. Daniel doesn’t see the point, until Miyagi shows him how he’s built up reflexes and motions that will serve him during the actual training.
I appreciate the hard work in the KonMarie™ Method for this reason. Success in work isn’t reached through short cuts. You can’t press an easy button to reach success. Sorry. Anyone who tells you there is one either a) wants you to buy what they’re selling, or b) is lying.
8 Lessons Learned from the 4-Week Work with Purpose Challenge
A photo you love (and can see) on your desktop and phone wallpaper brings joy 100x/day. We spent hours tidying up our digital workspaces, and the last step was to put a photo we loved on the backdrop to look at. Wow. What a difference this makes! I now see the view from the top of Going to the Sun Road and my family in the wilderness literally 100x/day. It reminds me one of the two big reasons I do what I do.
Habits breed focused mindsets. Clean-outs like we just completed suck. They take time and suck the emotional energy from me. I don’t want to do that again, so I’m keeping my workspaces, phone, time and network tidy every day. Why would I let things get out of control again? The funniest habit I picked up is wiping down my desk and workstation every morning between meditation and journaling. It takes 45 seconds and reminds me daily how important habits are for success.
Do less. I try to do too much. It stresses me and my family out. The sad part about it is I am the only one putting the pressure on me. I solve big business problems and create new ideas 40-50 hours every week. It’s hard on my brain. You know what? The biggest emotion I feel at the end of each day and work week is guilt. I always feel like I didn’t do enough – for my clients, my wife and business partner, my team, our industry and my couples. Why? I’m still working on that one…and in the meantime, I’m laser focused on identifying where to spend my time and energy. You’ll see the results in the coming months.
Surround yourself with the right people. Break up that network into three separate components:
Each one serves a purpose, but you have to make sure you’re putting the right people on the right team. I also found a gap in my own BOD – and now I’m head hunting for someone to fill a new seat at the table. THAT made the entire four-week challenge worth it for me.
The struggle is when you learn. Recently, I read several studies showing people who get mean teachers that don’t provide easy answers learn the most long-term and achieve the most success over their lives. Getting an easy A is not as helpful as a B that taps your brain. The Joy at Work challenge was hard at times, because it forced me to do things that weren’t in my wheelhouse already. Tidying, organizing, details, patience, and, yes, even joy, are not things I’m known for. I learned work life will be better if I stop avoiding these elements of success and start knuckling through to find a way that works for me with them in my routine.
Success comes through doing, not achieving. The results you want are the byproduct of the work you put in. This is especially true if you want long-term success, which is a way of being, not doing or having.
Know what you want. The biggest determinant for your work life’s success is knowing exactly what it looks like for you. It’s hard to make a decision on what you want. It’s something my therapist pointed out several years ago when I couldn’t even tell her what kind of tea I wanted to drink during our sessions. “You pick,” I would tell her. If I couldn’t choose a tea, how could I decide what I wanted with more important things in life. When I don’t know where I’m going, I find myself wandering around pissed off I haven’t gotten where I want to go. Anyone else feel like this? If you do, stop for a moment. In fact, stop moving until you know where you want to go.
Edit ruthlessly. Stop saying yes to everything you possibly can. That means your time, your friends, your clients, and even your own wants. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I got rid of 500+ books and boxes of electronics I don’t use anymore. But you know what else I got rid of? Old dreams. Other people’s dreams. I know more than ever what it is I want from work life.
And I’m doing it. With you. For you. Because of you. I know there’s an easier way for you to sell more business to clients you love. Stay tuned for more ways to learn what that looks like.
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