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KonMari Your Career: How to Find Joy in What You Do

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Since “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” premiered at the beginning of 2019, the KonMari method of organizing has taken the world by storm and has been applied again and again to almost every aspect of life—and you can use it when evaluating your career, too.

The KonMari method is a six-part system for organizing with the simple goal of deciding what in your life brings you joy (and what does not). Unsurprisingly, the best ideas are simple, and in a busy world, taking steps to simplify and declutter life is important. This includes your career. Oftentimes, we complicate matters looking toward an ultimate end goal without a clear path forward. Instead, take a step back and look at where you are now and the path you need to follow to get there. While meant for clothing and objects filling the shelves and closets of your house, the KonMari method can help you find joy in your career now and in the long run.

Commit yourself to tidying up.

Planning your career takes time and thought. In a hectic world with deadlines, hour targets and client pressures, contemplating your career path and the steps you need to take to reach your goals can sometimes fall to the back of the queue. If you are really ready to take the next steps in your career, commit to thinking – just thinking – about your goals/ambitions/drivers/direction for 10 minutes a day for a week.

Imagine the ideal.

While you are thinking about what you want, just let go and imagine the future. Where do you really see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? It doesn’t have to be all career dreams – your career is part of your journey, an accessory to life to get you to where you want to go. What do you want? Where do you live? Who is your partner? Do you have kids? Where do you travel? Take time to dream, think big, wish and explore.

Ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”

Now that you have a vision of where you want to go, look at where you are. Ask yourself the question: Does this spark joy? Don’t be too granular here; think of the wider aspects of work – is it a nice environment, are your colleagues friendly, is there opportunity? I am sure drafting a long document, doing repetitive research or being on an 11 p.m. conference call doesn’t spark joy, but it’s part of the job as a whole, so think bigger. What about your job and work environment do you enjoy? What could be better?

Tidy by category.

After you have an overall sense of what about your current job makes you happy and what could be improved, go deeper. Segregate the areas of your life and work and decide where each of your goals and desires fit with your current experiences. Consider these areas and whatever others you can think of:

  • Physical office space – How can you personally improve your space? Is your desk space a reflection of you? Should you add plants, art and/or family pictures?
  • Firm/company as a whole – Is your employer’s reputation as prestigious as you want? Is there a sense of growth as a whole? What is the culture like? Do you feel at home?
  • Colleagues – Are the people on your team nice? Is it a healthily competitive environment or sharp elbowed? Are you happy?
  • Commute – Is your commute improvable? Can you achieve other goals while commuting (e.g., walking + listening to a specific podcast you want)? Can you work remotely?
  • Policies – Are there dress down days? Are the IT policies too strict or can you complete necessary tasks on your computer without consequence? What is your vacation allowance? Can you use it without guilt?
Process

With your list of desires and goals compiled as well as your lists of what does not bring you joy, consider what can you do to change the negatives. Are there little things you can personally do to make your day to day better? Can you enlist help from someone else? Here are some ideas:

  • Improve your processes.
  • Delegate tasks.
  • Change your location.
  • Speak to somebody more senior about the problem.

Somethings cannot be changed; decide if it is really worth the battle.

Discard/Store

Now that you have taken the time to identify what in your career brings you joy and what does not and what you think you can do to bring yourself more joy, it is time to act! Start with the low-hanging fruit; work on putting your smaller issues to bed. Then give yourself a timeline; set milestones for where you want to be in a few months, a year, three years and so on. After 6–9 months, review your progress and adjust. If something hasn’t been proactively dealt with by that point, reflect, see what you can change and decide from there. If after this there is no change or chance for it, be proactive and take the steps to find that joy whether in a new organization, new city or new role.

When we spend 40+ hours working each week, we should really focus on being happy with our career. By evaluating your current situation and following these steps, you can improve your overall work life within your current organization or on the path to a new one. Decide what you can accept and what is worth the fight.

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