By Marie Rosecrans
Like much of the American public, I can’t get enough of Marie Kondo — and that’s evident with one look at any cabinet, closet, and drawer in my house. The expert organizer and Netflix sensation has a built a loyal following through her trendy KonMari method, which consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings and then keeping only those things that “spark joy.” Kondo’s practice has inspired memes of every stripe and generated both praise and vitriol, but her underlying message is a valuable one: treasure what you have.
Kondo is lucky to have created a business of something that utilizes her skills and passion, while also helping the rest of us streamline and simplify our lives. But for other entrepreneurs, founders, and small business owners, how do you handle things when your business doesn’t conjure the same emotion? If your job doesn’t spark joy, and getting rid of it isn’t an option, what can you do? While most people’s work situations are complex, much of Kondo’s advice still holds true.
Start with gratitude
When you’re overwhelmed or in a funk, take some time to reframe the situation; Kondo touts gratitude as a simple way to bring things back into perspective. While some work situations require a full-scale reboot, others are fixable if you look deeply for new ideas and inspiration. So before you make any major moves, take some time to identify the worthwhile aspects of your job or small business. Gratitude is a key to happiness, so understanding what you have can help bring back positive feelings, empathy, and understanding.
Lead with culture
A company’s culture is a powerful competitive advantage — not to mention one that’s completely within our control. Think about it: When we feel happy and productive at work, we go home energized. We build better relationships and collaborate more effectively. These positive feelings have an amplification effect, gloriously spilling over into other areas of our lives. So if your work situation has a negative effect on your wellness, try improving the culture. Here at Salesforce we do a simple Start-Stop-Continue exercise to help teams reflect on their work experiences and have a say in what needs improvement as the business moves forward. Like Kondo’s tidying methods, this is an easy way for business of any size to get a temperature check and involve employees in day-to-day operations.
Find a coach
When you’re feeling stuck, it’s critical to seek advice from others who’ve been-there-done-that before. So if you’re feeling like you’ve hit a wall, find someone with whom you can talk it through. An outside perspective can bring new ideas and opinions you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, especially from other entrepreneurs and leaders who’ve been in similar situations with their own small businesses. Look for someone who’ll question your thinking and push you to consider additional viewpoints. And before you begin, make sure you’re truly open to counsel.
Volunteer your time
Like gratitude, philanthropy is a simple mood booster that can bring about a new way of thinking. Volunteering offers a chance to get away from the spreadsheets, deadlines, and pressure to refresh your mind. Volunteering also gives you new perspectives, helps you think differently, and helps you better connect with the communities in which you do business. A simple change of environment can stimulate ideas to help you tackle issues in new ways. And there are no shortage of other benefits — new skills, experiences, and interpersonal connections galore. So find an organization or cause that’s meaningful to you and your employees and spend some time volunteering. It may be hard to find time away from running a startup or small business, but the upside is invaluable.
How do you find meaning in your work?
Kondo’s ideas have encouraged people to really take a look at the “stuff” that they hang onto and think about the kind of lives they want to live. And while KonMari works beautifully in your pantry or master closet, its application to everyday life is no less powerful. Think about the excess baggage in your world you could get rid of for not sparking joy — ill personalities, nostalgic holdovers, bad influences. When it’s your job or career that’s causing the anxiety, though, you owe it to yourself to explore all options. After all, if your business isn’t sparking joy for you, you can bet it’s affecting your customers and employees, too.
As senior vice president of SMB marketing at Salesforce, Marie Rosecrans focuses on empowering small and medium businesses with the tools and resources they need to grow. Before joining Salesforce in 2008, she held positions in customer support, professional services, product marketing, and program management at Oracle, Peoplesoft, Evolve, and Primavera. Marie lives in the San Francisco Bay area and enjoys hiking and traveling with her husband and two teens.