Make 2022 the Year You Reclaim Your Joy at Work

A joyful moment celebrating some of the team who joined Aha! in the last six months | Photo by Aha!

January 11, 2022

Make 2022 the Year You Reclaim Your Joy at Work

by Brian de Haaff

"Every day feels like a Monday now." I know that is how many people feel after a difficult few years. That feeling is compounded if you are stuck in a toxic work culture or questioning your career. It is a crummy way to live. We all deserve to feel the deep satisfaction that comes from working with colleagues we respect and who want to achieve great things together.

If work has become more drudgery than delight, you are not alone — plenty of people are laboring to reconnect with a greater sense of joy and purpose.

The pandemic has forced us to radically reassess how we live and what makes us happy. Many of us have had to embrace change to varying degrees, whether that entailed shifting schedules to accommodate remote work or moving to a new city. Or maybe you are one of the millions of people fueling the "Great Resignation" — quitting jobs and leaving companies that no longer serve you.

Underpinning these massive shifts is a restlessness and unease about what tomorrow will bring. We all want to attain greater happiness in our daily lives now and in the future. And work is where we spend the majority of our waking hours. So it makes sense to focus on cultivating deeper fulfillment at work.

I am not talking about finding small moments of joy to brighten your work day. Instead I am describing a deeper and more resonant yearning — a desire to excel, grow, and make a meaningful impact.

There is no single path to achieve this type of fulfillment. I know this because professional happiness is a concept I often ponder. Achievement and joy are baked into the DNA of Aha! — we believe that creating more customer and team delight is why a company should exist. Sustainable happiness is what we aim for as we work hard to build lovable product development software.

Everyone deserves to enjoy work, but that does not mean you are able or willing to resign and search for a better opportunity. And leaving your job may not bring you the happiness you seek or propel you forward. Sometimes the right solution is finding ways to improve your current situation. To do this you must be willing to shift your mindset and commit to changing your own thoughts and behaviors.

With this in mind, here are some ideas for reclaiming your destiny at work:

Reframe goals

Goal-first thinking is imperative. But pursuing the wrong goals (whether personal or product-related) can be just as deleterious as having none. So bring your cross-functional product team together to evaluate and prioritize your product goals. Ditch anything that you collectively decide is outdated, misaligned with customer needs, or no longer fits with the broader company vision and mission. Evaluate your personal goals and core values just as shrewdly.

Question purpose

How much does your work matter to you? What is your ultimate vision for what you want to achieve? Accept that right now work might be a means to an end — you are learning new skills and gaining experience that will prepare you for your next challenge. Identify something about your job that you do enjoy, and volunteer to take on more of those tasks.

Complain louder

Silence in the face of unhappiness is like using a sieve to collect water — it does not help you reach lasting happiness. Speak up when you are struggling and do not be afraid to show candor and vulnerability. Ask your manager or teammates for the extra support you need to make the situation better, and be open to hearing their suggestions too.

Stop work

Being busy does not necessarily lead to meaningful results. Making a real impact means being ruthless about linking each project you are working on to your larger strategy and goals. Identify any busy work you are doing and figure out how to automate, delegate, or eliminate it. And evaluate your schedule to remove unnecessary meetings — you can invest this extra time into learning new skills or building relationships with teammates.

Ignore self

Remember that no role is all good or all bad — you will not always enjoy every facet of your job. The key is to figure out how to channel your intrinsic motivation to accomplish the tasks and projects that you find less satisfying or exciting. This might mean connecting these parts of your work to your greater purpose or focusing on how your efforts are supporting the team.

Get distracted

Stop ignoring messages and requests from your colleagues and tune in to distractions instead. At Aha! we codified this mindset into The Responsive Method (TRM) — a framework for success that emphasizes acting with urgency and kindness. When you listen carefully to others in the moment, you are in the best position to help them when their need is greatest. You have the power to lead by example and contribute to creating a more positive team culture.

Reclaiming your joy requires an internal transformation — you must be willing to think deeply about what makes you happy and doggedly pursue opportunities for growth.

Not everyone will have the leeway to implement some of the advice I shared above. Having the autonomy to shift your workload or skip certain meetings is a privilege. But no matter what your role is, you are responsible for thinking deeply about your values and what you want to accomplish. And if you decide that you do need to make a job change, you can begin searching for a better company and position — where you can achieve your long-term goals with like-minded folks and be happy doing it.

What else do you recommend people do to rediscover joy at work?

Our team is happy, productive, and hiring — join us!

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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