Joy in the Work

Joy in the Work

Last week, Julian sent a letter about the importance of focusing on the work rather than the reward and in particular, learning to enjoy the work. That prompted me to write today’s note as a follow up and share a few thoughts I have on how I find joy in the work.

Get right to it.

Nothing beats immediacy when it comes to finding joy in the work. Getting to work when the inspiration strikes is the most sure way to extract the joy from a task I’ve gotten busy with. I’ll give you one better. Don’t wait for inspiration. Forward motion creates momentum. Joy in the work springs from doing.


Do different things. Novelty will put you in exploration mode. Look for the things that pull your attention. Embrace and take your time with them. Adopt a learner’s mindset when in exploration mode to minimize distractions and identify insights that will push you forward. Joy lies in discovering new ways of looking at the world.

Cut yourself some slack.

Be mindful of the fact that joy in the work is not a certainty. Be okay with that. Sometimes you’ll just have to push through the mundane. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re stuck or feeling like you’ve reached a dead end. Take time off. Step back and cut yourself some slack. The expectations we set for ourselves are usually the harshest and we are our worst judges. Check often whether the story we tell ourselves is the right one. Joy comes from reorienting our energy towards towards something additive rather than subtractive.

Those three principles help me to recenter at times I’m faced with joyless work. Starting from here, I can always go deeper and evaluate the situation on a tactical level per each specific task. These work regardless of the reward. They can be applied when doing the dishes or building a business.

Get right to it,

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