Even during this time of the Great Resignation, many people still feel stuck at work. They go through the motions, unmotivated and uninspired and sometimes even miserable.
Why is that? Do they have lousy bosses? Are they not living out their passions? And if that's the case, why don't they do something about it?
According to authors David Novak and Jason Goldsmith, employees need to create their own conditions to grow and thrive. They can't rely on someone else to show them the way. They need to, in essence, take charge of and coach themselves.
To the authors, the journey into "self-coaching" starts with finding your joy. In their new book, Take Charge of You: How Self-Coaching Can Transform Your Life and Career, Novak, the co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands and host of How Leaders Lead podcast, and Goldsmith, a renowned performance coach for world-class athletes, argue that pursuing joy is the organizing principle for one's own growth and development. This goes for leaders, too.
4 questions to get you to a state of joy
If joy is the destination and not some vague pursuit, here are four key questions to ask yourself to get you moving on a more positive, impactful, and joyful career path.
What's getting in the way of your joy?
So many of us avoid doing much soul-searching when it comes to how we feel about work. But if we look at the answers to this question objectively, like a piece of data or source of information about ourselves, we'll be in a much stronger position to assess what we need to fix, adjust, or at least not repeat.
Is it the length of your commute? Or is it that you get home too late each night to help the kids with homework? Maybe you're no longer challenged by your role or inspired by your industry. Think about those days when you felt the most frustrated or unfulfilled. What happened? Make a list and be specific.
What would give you more joy, personally or professionally?
This isn't a question about what makes you happy. Rather, it's about what gives you energy and enthusiasm.
"People who love what they do feel energized by it," says Novak. "People who don't feel the opposite. Joy has an energy to it."
One trick the authors suggest to build joy is to take a "joy blocker" you identified in the first question and turn it on its head. For example, if a contentious relationship with a co-worker is making you miserable, but you love the company you work for, would transferring to a new department bring you more joy?
What's the single biggest thing you can imagine that will bring you joy and make the biggest difference in your life or career?
"What I have learned over the years is that having a single biggest thing can be an immensely powerful motivator and can guide you in how to spend your time and what to practice, so being specific is important," says Goldsmith.
"Too many people go through life aimlessly and fall short of what will give them purpose, meaning, joy, and success," adds Novak.
Do you want to run your own business? Improve your personal health? Whatever it is, make it big, important, daring, and even aspirational. There is a big difference between setting a goal and choosing a compelling destination that drives you forward.
What would success look like?
A big part of self-coaching is visualizing yourself reaching the destination. What does that look like? Can you envision standing in the lobby of your new store welcoming the first customer? What does it feel like? What does it smell like? Even, what does it sound like?
"I worked with a pitcher who could hear when a pitch was thrown well ... it had a particular whoosh sound to it," said Goldsmith. "Using all five senses can really work your imagination muscles."
At the end of the day, whether we're leaders or individual performers, we'll only succeed and achieve our goals if we are motivated and inspired to do so. And sometimes we need to take it upon ourselves -- to look in the mirror and do a little self-coaching -- to bring big-time joy back into our work and lives.