Finding Joy at Work
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Finding Joy at Work

You don’t need to love everything about your work. As long as you enjoy at least 20 percent of your tasks, and can really become absorbed in them, you will be much less likely to burn out.

Marcus Buckingham, a researcher and the author of Love and Work, calls these enjoyable tasks and events the “red threads” of your day. They are the bright spot in the tapestry of your life. 

So how can you find the red threads and also ensure that your day has enough of them to keep you engaged? 

1.    Pay attention to which tasks or projects you instinctively volunteer for. 
2.    Identify which tasks seem to make time fly.
3.    Determine which tasks feel natural to you and jive with your innate interests and abilities.

Buckingham suggests taking an inventory of your week by keeping a list handy with a loved and a loathed column on it. At the end of the week, you’ll have a better idea of what engages you and what doesn’t. 

What should you do with this information? 

Ask yourself each morning where you will find the red threads and how you will use them. Once you find them—those tasks that keep you engaged—try to make them a larger part of your day. 

Find a way to turn your interests into a useful contribution to the workplace, and maneuver your role in that direction. Don’t sit back and wait for a manager to come and give you the perfect job—take initiative. 

Talk to your coworkers and redistribute tasks according to strengths and interests, when possible. Often, what one person finds boring, another finds interesting or rewarding. 

If you can’t find the red threads at work, perhaps it’s time to move on to a new job or workplace. If that isn’t an option right now, seek the red threads in other aspects of your life. For some, that may be a side hustle that eventually turns into a new job. 

So try to identify and find those red threads in your day. Your mental and physical health—and your career—depend on it.

“Follow what you love and keep pushing it. . . . That will lead to the kind of expertise and depth that doesn’t make you narrow; it makes you able to innovate more.” 
—Marcus Buckingham 

The Importance of Engagement and Resilience

Engagement – Your proactive frame of mind to deliver your best.

Resilience – How well you respond to challenges and obstacles.

Prior to the pandemic, only 18 percent of workers felt highly engaged, and 17 percent felt highly resilient. Since the pandemic, those numbers have fallen by two percent each. 

And even before the pandemic, healthcare workers were some of the least engaged and least resilient workers across the globe. Seventy-three percent of doctors said they wouldn’t recommend the profession to their kids, and twice as many nurses experienced PTSI symptoms as veterans. 

3 Reasons Why People Find Work to Be a Drag 

1.    Lack of trust – Only 14 percent trust their workplace leaders.
2.    Lack of teamwork – Teamwork has dropped considerably in the past number of years.
3.    Emphasis on conformity – People are expected to meet certain metrics and perform tasks in certain ways, rather than allowing for individuation or different ideas.

Many of these issues need to be addressed by workplace leaders. But as Buckingham says, it’s important to look for ways to improve your work on your own too, rather than simply relying on management. 

If you have the chance to do something you love every day, you are more than 10 times more likely to be highly engaged and 17 times more likely to be resilient at work. 

Source: Harvard Business Review Ideacast (episodes 849, 851, 853, 855)

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