With all the words we’ve used to describe the new world of work lately, “joy” isn’t exactly one of them. After all, it means great delight, happiness, elation – words that don’t seem to reflect the modern workplace.

Amid extreme financial pressures, job security worries, increased competition, and ongoing changes in our offices and worksites, you might ask “where the heck is the joy around here?”

But I propose that there is great joy to be found in the working world – if only we know where to look. Here are my four favorite places to discover your joy at work, this new year and beyond.

1. The Joy of Earning.

Let’s just say it – getting paid is a joyous thing! While it’s wonderful to say “I’d do this even if they didn’t pay me,” earning money allows us to take better care of our families and ourselves. Why do we shy away from talking about what we earn in the workplace? Take a minute, look at your paycheck (or view your direct deposit online) and tell yourself, “Congrats – you earned it.” There’s no shame in having pride and joy around what you make – no matter how much it is, or how much more you’d like it to be!

2. The Joy of Solving Problems.

In its simplest form, a job is a set of problems to be solved. Even jobs that seem simple on the surface (“answer the phone,” “deliver the package”) come with their own set of increasingly complex problems (“what if someone’s upset?” “what if the system goes down?”.) All require your judgement and good sense. Start letting yourself feel the true joy in making a customer happy, completing the task under budget, or improving a teammate’s day. Each problem disguises delight to be had – your job is to uncover the joy! 

3. The Joy of Building Relationships.

No matter what we do, if our job involves people, we are building relationships. And while relationships can be challenging, I believe there is always joy to be found, whether in a best friend at work, a customer who appreciates our efforts, or a colleague who admires our contributions. Even those of us who work independently can find joy in relationships with others, from the guy at Panera who makes the coffee to the woman at Comcast who makes sure the broadband keeps working. Appreciate and thank them all.

4. The Joy of Challenging Ourselves.

“Please,” you scoff, “no more challenges – I’ve had enough over the past couple of years!”” Fair enough – our workplaces have been filled with confusion, tension, and challenge in the most negative sense. But when there’s challenge, there’s also extreme opportunity for creativity and growth as we create new rules to replace the ruins of the old ones. Let yourself appreciate the joy of being challenged. It’s only when you’re challenged that you grow, and growing is the best way to discover even more joy in the working world!

As the founder of Red Cape Revolution: Bring Your Superpowers to Work (www.redcaperevolution.com), leadership & workplace coach and speaker Darcy Eikenberg helps committed, energetic professionals discover new ways to improve their experience at work, in ways that work for their organizations and for themselves.  When you join the Red Cape Revolution, you can access valuable tools such as our “How to Thrive in the New World of Work” ebook and other Tips & Scripts for real-life workplace challenges. Contact Darcy at darcy@redcaperevolution.com or 404.313.0278.
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