I’ll bet someone’s told you recently that mindset is really important to achieving success as a leader, in your career, at work. Frankly, I’ve told you that too, haven’t I?

It’s true. It’s so important. But the thing is, it’s not always so easy to change our mindset just like that.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have something visible that helps us to achieve that shift. For example, I like Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about “power posing” and I recommend it all the time and how, as she says, fake it until we become it.

Then there’s also changing your environment, changing your surroundings. That’s what I want to focus on today because your physical surroundings can really help us make a shift in our mindset for good or for less good.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

The way I came across this recently is in a book I just finished reading. It’s a quick read and it has nothing to do with leadership, career success or work. It’s called ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo. It sold over three million copies – it’s an international best seller – and it’s about how to tidy your home to have a happier life.

Marie Condo has this great concept – first she says you’ve got to tidy based on categories. You don’t tidy one room, then another room, but you tidy by category. So all your clothes all at once, all your books, all your papers, etc.

Then, let’s say you’re doing your clothes, which is as far as I’ve gotten so far. You want to pick up each item of your clothing and feel whether it sparks joy for you or not. If it sparks joy, you keep it. If it doesn’t spark joy, it goes out – either the garbage or you donate it to charity.

I started thinking, what if we could fill our space with what sparks joy when it comes to our work and our careers? Wouldn’t that be great? Whether it’s the people we work with, the projects we work on, the roles that we take on. How can we apply this to our work?

I realize that we can’t pick up our boss and say, “Ooh, he or she doesn’t spark joy.” We can’t just donate them to charity, but there are some things that we can do. Here are a couple for you to consider.

Link to Your Bigger Purpose

First is to link it to your bigger purpose, your why. In Marie Kondo’s book, she talks about how people generally don’t like folding clothes, but once they use her method and understand how to do a proper clothes folding exercise, and how you stack them neatly in your drawers so you can see all of them and they’re in order, then you come to love folding.

I was one of those people. I hated folding, and now I love it! Watch the video so you can see what I mean. I can’t help showing off an example – my gym kit – so you can see how neatly they’re folded and go from dark to light. I just love folding them and I feel so happy to know that they’re so orderly in my drawer.

We could apply the same thing at work and in our careers. I love folding now because it serves a bigger purpose – it makes me feel at peace to know it’s all there just like that. It’s all stuff that sparks joy for me. So at work, if we could tie it to our bigger why, a bigger purpose, that could work too.

Maybe the bigger purpose is that you’re doing this work for your family and to support your family. Or maybe it’s to support a hobby that you have, horseback riding or sailing, things that you have to invest in. Maybe you want to save up to be able to shoot a feature film that you’ve always wanted to do.

Get in touch and link it to your bigger purpose.

Focus on What Brings Joy

The second way that I think we can spark joy and use that concept in our working careers is framing.

I think that we can make it work by finding and focusing on the pieces that bring joy, whether that’s the parts around the people, the job, the role, the project, and not focus on all the bad stuff and get dragged into it around the water cooler.

For example, instead of saying, “Oh, I have to get this report out”, you could reframe it to, “Hey, I get to put together all this great data that makes this really important point. I get to work with these people while I’m doing it.”

A Challenge for You

I’d like to challenge you to find a way to surround yourself with what sparks joy for you as much as possible. And then for the rest, link it to your bigger purpose and find a way to reframe it so that it does spark joy.

What sparks joy for you when it comes to your work and career? Leave a comment and let me know.