Issue #8: Plan Your Joy
It’s a new year, a new decade, but by now it all feels very familiar. We’ve all fallen back into our routines at work and at home and by now the lofty resolutions and the optimistic goals we set ourselves at the start of the year, are beginning to feel further away. The routine of the everyday can quickly start to neutralise the optimism with which you entered the new year. And so quickly, we fall into the repeated patterns of behavior that we promised to change at the start of the new year.
That’s why this clip of Michelle Obama advising us to plan our joy to avoid burnout resonated so strongly with us: “We plan work. We’re not taught to plan our joy,” said the former First Lady. “It takes planning, and it takes practice planning.”
We plan our careers or we plan our days around our children’s schedules, but we hardly take the time to plan for things that focus on us. There’s a deliberateness when we plan our professional development – we complete an examination, up our skills, obtain a certificate all to advance our professional ourselves.
Yet, when it comes to our personal lives, we think that our happiness, our joy, our fulfillment will come to us when the time is right. We want to live happier and more balanced lives but we don’t set aside the time to build better and healthier relationships with ourselves or our loved ones.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Brigit Schulte’s insightful piece “A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself” reminds us that “pure leisure, making time just for oneself, is nothing short of a courageous act of radical and subversive resistance [for women].”
We hear you saying, “But I plan spa days and girls nights,” but joy doesn’t come at the hands of a massage therapist, or as the old hymn sings, in the morning after a sorrowful night—it can be five minutes each day. We often feel that we need to earn our time for ourselves, and we delay giving ourselves the time we need to make room for that joy. Self-care is more than moments of indulgence, it’s about finding out what sustains you when days are dark.
By the time you get this newsletter, heart-shaped chocolates will be going for half-price and the price of roses will return to normal after skyrocketing. Valentine’s Day can be a little cheesy, but it comes with an important lesson: prioritising your partner and planning time with them, just them. Dual-career couples can lose track of each other, so planning your relationship over these potentially awkward but necessary conversation topics can help keep the spark alive beyond Valentine’s Day.
Self-care has become an industry and like any industry, it’s become focused on profit. When you think about self-care in commercial terms, it becomes out of reach, especially when you think about our national economic crisis, which is certainly having an impact on all our personal financial status. So here’s a reminder of the many free and accessible things you can do to take care of yourself and find your joy.
It’s time to think about self-care beyond the self. Prioritising yourself is important, but it is the healthy relationships we forge that sustain us, and our communities. Upon reflection on the catastrophic impact of the Australian bushfires, writer Brigid Delaney was reminded of the importance of community, even in self-actualisation, writing that “collective self-care is saying ‘we need to look after each other.’” and recognising that there is healing power through collective wellness.
Finding joy at work sounds like an oxymoron, but it is possibly the best way to utilise your talents in the workplace. Identifying an aspect of your job that brings you joy will not only make the nine-to-five more bearable, it’s also the key to productivity. “We can’t always control what assignments we accept at work. But regardless of our position, the choice we make about how we approach our work is up to us,” says management consultant Alison Rimm.