Reclaiming enjoyment starts with noticing where and when enjoyment is missing then making small tweaks and changes to get some quick wins and put foundations in place for the longer term.
In this video I’ll give you some tips on how to start reclaiming enjoyment:
In my article, Characteristics of Overdrive, I talk about the costs as well as benefits of the behaviour I have titled overdrive. What I mean by overdrive is being in the habit of relentlessly pushing yourself to deliver more and better results across most aspects of work and life. I’ve become something of an expert in overdrive.
Until the age of 45 it was the only gear I operated in myself. Since then I’ve been learning a new way to create the results I can feel proud of while treating myself more kindly and enjoying my work more.
Strangely, or not, I also began attracting coaching clients with a tendency towards overdrive. I realised that overdrive is a common habit amongst the leaders and change-makers I work with. Of course, this makes sense. To lead, innovate, create change and make a difference is the territory of courageous resilient souls. It’s hard and often lonely work being out front and it’s often only these driven individuals who rise to the challenge by pushing themselves. It’s a good job some of us operate in overdrive because that way differences are made, things get done, new stuff happens.
So, there are benefits to overdrive, not least for the organisations and communities the over-driver is aligned with. There are also costs. Today I’m going to focus on the cost to the individual in terms of enjoyment and how to reclaim it. Being in overdrive for extended periods results in loss of enjoyment as all efforts are directed towards outputs leaving little spare for play, noodling, frivolity, spontaneity, simply being.
Because being in overdrive is so familiar it can be difficult to see the costs, it just feels like everyday life. Reclaiming enjoyment starts with acknowledging the costs and / or giving oneself permission to desire some different experiences.
Begin by asking yourself these questions:
What does enjoyment mean to me?
How do I feel about the amount of enjoyment in my life?
In what ways is enjoyment important to me?
How important is enjoyment to me on a day to day basis?
What do I enjoy in my day to day experience?
What don’t I enjoy about my day to day experience?
What would having more enjoyment on a day to day basis mean to me?
The next step is about figuring out how you can take a few baby steps towards what you desire more of and less of.
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There are 2 areas to focus on.
First attitude; reclaiming enjoyment starts with making enjoyment an important goal (alongside other important goals like earning £x, securing promotion, achieving success in a major project).
When you identify reclaiming enjoyment as an important goal you begin to take it seriously and apply yourself to achieving it in your planning. Give yourself permission to put your day to day experience as a priority and measure results by how you feel and how much enjoyment you have.
Once you get your head round reclaiming enjoyment being a goal on a par with other goals you will find it easier to prioritise actions that will lead to enjoyment. It will be on your radar. If you’re reading this, you’re probably an over-driver, which means you’re good at getting things done and making things happen.
Once you’ve shifted your attitude to put reclaiming enjoyment as a goal you’ll soon figure out ways to make that happen. As this will be new behaviour it might help to remind yourself that reclaiming enjoyment is your priority, put a post-it on your pc, a reminder on your phone, a screensaver, whatever….
This brings me to the second area - action. Here are three action steps you can take to reclaim enjoyment:
Firstly look for ways to protect time for you in every day. This might mean scheduling in a lunch break, finishing work on time regularly, switching off social media at a given time each day. Small steps in theory but if you’ve been in overdrive for some time they will give you pockets of space to check in with you and slow down and breathe.
Secondly ask yourself this question each morning - what can I think, do or say today that will make me feel good today? Identify one thing and make sure you do it.
Thirdly, at the end of your work day write down 3 things you did well/achieved in the day. Regularly appreciating what you achieve will begin to counteract the unpleasant overdrive habit of always focusing on your shortfall. It feels more enjoyable to acknowledge your successes than give yourself a hard time.
These steps towards reclaiming enjoyment are simple but not necessarily easy to take.
It will probably feel counterintuitive.
Your brain may well come up with compelling reasons why not to.
Remind yourself why you are bothering to reclaim enjoyment, why it’s important to you.
Keep taking baby-steps. Enjoy!
Over the years, I've helped hundreds of clients to recover from overdrive and reclaim their enjoyment of daily life. To learn more about my proven strategies for reclaiming your enjoyment, click here.