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Multiple Streams of Joy: How to Rest & Recharge in Times of Chaos

Updated: Sep 8, 2022


We've recast dysfunction as heroic sacrifice. We've collectively created a narrative around the nature of work that not only justifies such dysfunctional practices, but also regards those who engage in them as selfless heroes, sacrificing sleep, relationships, and even their health in order to help the organization achieve its goals. We brag about how little sleep we're getting, how busy and over-scheduled we are, how poorly we take care of ourselves--all of which plays into and reinforces this narrative of heroic sacrifice. So what can we do about it? (Ed Batista, Dysfunction Isn't Heroism)

Becoming a purposeful, effective leader begins with leading yourself. When your tank is running empty, it's impossible to give and serve at your best. We often see the outlandish lifestyles of successful leaders paraded as templates for us to live up to in our daily lives. We tend to celebrate less sleep, being more plugged into the technological pull of work, or putting off vacations in favor of always finishing projects. These celebrations aren't always explicit but become more apparent when we realize who we lift as the ideal and who we shuttle to the side.

Now more than ever, we see the importance of leading at our best. This type of leadership requires immense self-reflection to gain clarity. How do I behave when I lead at my best? At my worst? Gathering feedback from others helps broaden our perspective. Joy becomes more accessible when we take stock of the activities we participate in at work, at home, and during the limited free time that we may have.

When we don't take the time, it's easier for burnout to seep into our lives. When we don't recognize our warning signs, we can't lead at our best. When this is the case, our health is more likely to suffer, our results tend to dip, and relationships will presumably grow more stressful. So, how can we lead healthier lives?

Here are three steps you can take to find more joy in your day-to-day life that will help you overcome burnout and cultivate gratitude.


One of the best ways to understand the importance of recharging is recontextualizing what it means to be resilient. As leaders, our inner world creates our outer world. It is incredibly easy to fall prey to the loudest, most consistent noise seeking to take our attention away from our purpose. Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan assert that "The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again."

Resilience isn't necessarily about enduring discomfort or resistance for an extended period but instead making sure you recharge before taking more runs at a particular problem. You aren't giving up on solutions. You're just giving yourself time away to find new ways to create success. Disconnecting, making your well-being a priority, will provide you with the time to find joy outside of work and create the space for heightened problem-solving in the workplace.


Realizing the need for disconnection is the easy part, but actually making space to do it can feel overwhelming. After all, we're all busy, and sometimes it feels like we cannot even fit the things required of us into the workday. Asking the difficult questions: "Where do I schedule time for disconnection?" is vital for effective self-leadership. However, don't stop the process by only asking the question; schedule the time.

Time is our most precious resource. So, where you spend your time matches where you spend your life. When seeking to break habits or create new ones, quitting something cold turkey sometimes comes with unnecessary guilt. Perhaps, most practically, it's important to remember that it's okay to start small. Rather than beating yourself up, schedule what seems doable right now and grow that over time as you begin to see the benefits increase.

Find something that brings you joy. Maybe you'll start with five minutes of meditation in the morning. Perhaps, it's a walk during your lunch break or taking some time to read and write before going to sleep. Find something that is doable. Find something that won't feel like a burden.


Lastly, when searching for ways to recharge and find joy, it's crucial to consider a holistic view of leadership. When we silo off the different buckets of our humanity, we lose sight of the synergy of our emotions, our minds, and more. Bessel van der Kolk writes, "The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves." Pushing through what your body attempts to tell you doesn't benefit anyone. It stretches thin our already limited resources and hinders our ability to lead effectively.

When we ignore frustration, exhaustion, and stress, we will inevitably take those emotions out on our work or coworkers when we don't deal with them. However, it's easier to holistically refill your well when we take time to do something that brings us joy.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash


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