We all know the quiet satisfaction that comes from ticking a task off your list. You’re one goal down, ready to tackle the next, and generally winning at life. You’re a productivity superhero!
But if you’re not careful, that same list can end up chipping away at your identity. You’re so intent on achieving goals, you forget why you’re achieving them. You fail to look up around you. And that deeper sense of purpose that is so vital to workplace satisfaction goes right out the window.
Here at Spike, we’re all about bringing joy back to daily life, and the fun of the process. Here’s why you should loosen your grip on your to-do list and join us in enjoying the journey:
Goals Delay Happiness, the Journey Does Not
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve,” writes entrepreneur James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. “Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”
The problem with focusing on goals, he says, is that they delay your happiness. You think, “I’ll be happy when I (lose weight/run a marathon/get through my to-do list).” By doing so, you constantly put your happiness off to a future point of achievement.
This is an issue because there will always be more to do. When it comes to work goals, there is always something bigger and better just out of reach. Achieving tasks is important, but so is the process of how to get there. If you focus too much on just getting it “done”, you’ll lose sight of the journey – and the meaning behind it.
Goals are also temporary. You achieve them, you feel a moment of happiness, then, BOOM: you move right on to the next thing.
It’s more fulfilling to put your energy into the system behind the goals – also known as the journey. Not only will this make you happier in the moment, it’ll also replace the fleeting joy of achieving your goals with something much more substantial.
The Journey is What Drives You
The Japanese have a concept known as “ikigai”. It means your purpose, your driving force – the one thing that gets you up in the morning.
“Ikigai is the source of joy in your life,” explains neuroscientist Ken Mogi, who has written several books on the topic. “Joy is associated with the brain’s reward system […] In this sense, joy is your life’s compass, taking you to where you want to go. You follow your joys.”
Your ikigai can be large or small, personal or work-related. But you need to take a step back and reflect to find it. It’s closely tied to knowing who you are, and being true to yourself.
A study of 43,000 participants by Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan found that those who practised ikigai were more likely to be alive seven years later (even after taking into account lifestyle habits such as smoking and lack of exercise).
Think about that. Having a sense of purpose is so important, it can prolong your life.
Most of us are so lost in day-to-day tasks, we don’t stop to consider what our ikigai is. We don’t have the time or headspace. But thinking about your journey brings the bigger picture back into focus.
At Spike, our ikigai has always been to create a tool that makes day-to-day communication a lot simpler and more enjoyable. “You spend so much time at work, you might as well enjoy it,” says Erez Pilosof, Spike’s Co-founder and CTO. “Email is part of our daily lives but it doesn’t have to exist as this big, stressful task we build it up to be. It can actually be fun – that’s our mission with Spike. Let’s talk to each other online in a way that’s easy and spontaneous. Just as we do in real life.”
Having ikigai means you stay closely in touch with your passion. Big or small, it’s not the things that we do but the meaning contained within them that counts.
Focusing on the Journey Reduces Stress
Chronic stress is a real issue in a modern age. A 2018 Gallup study found that 57% of American workers experience burnout in some form.
If you’re an independent contractor or a small business owner, this impact can go both ways. Yes, you’re your own boss – but you also have to hustle more, and shoulder the stress of wage uncertainty and making your own living.
Of course it’s stressful, and this stress is amplified by one thousand little tasks and push notifications all demanding your attention at once. One thing that can help is to reassess the way that you use time.
Productivity author John Zeratsky says we often lose our time to “infinity pools”: infinite sources of information and entertainment, such as video streaming or pull-to-refresh apps. We should take conscious action to close off these infinity pools, he argues.
In his book Make Time, co-authored with Jake Knapp, Zeratsky also makes the case for daily highlights. A highlight is the one thing that you protect and prioritize in your day – the activity that you would look back and remember that day by.
Often, this can be something that brings joy, such as having lunch with friends or getting into the flow of an activity you truly love. This stops time passing in a whirl of to-dos, and brings the focus back to your journey.
Reintroducing an element of fun and intention to your day – rather than simply knocking out to-dos – means you’ll be more mindful about what you do and why.
Long-haul Success is Built on the Journey
It’s not just about happiness, though. It also includes your ability to refocus from daily tasks on your journey.
Anyone can blitz their to-do list and achieve progress short-term. Success is relatively easy in those first few months of running a business, when you’re fresh and full of vim.
But the challenge is keeping that drive going over five, ten or twenty years of a startup journey. For this, the mere grind just isn’t enough. Sooner or later, you’ll run out of stream – no matter how hard you try.
Instead, you need a clear sense of joy to propel you.
“Joy plays a huge part in what makes high performers successful,” writes business coach Brendon Burchard in his book, High Performance Habits. “[…] If you decide to set one intention that will raise your energy and change your life more than any other, make it to bring your joy into your life.”
The Joy of the Journey is All Around
So we now understand that joy is the crucial factor that separates your journey from your tasks.
Joy brings your happiness into the now. It creates meaning and purpose around what you do. It slows down time, reduces stress and sets the stage for lasting success.
You cannot get joy and meaning from blasting through tasks on your to-do list. In fact, these tasks, by their very nature, are likely to create stress and a nagging sense that you’re not achieving what you should.
Lasting joy can only come from investing in the journey of what you do. Think about what matters to you. What lights you up? What gives your day meaning?
By focusing on the journey, you’ll find a natural momentum and a positive energy that will carry through to all areas of your life.
Spike can help with this process in two ways. It makes your life easier by turning your existing email into chat, removing the need for other messengers – no stressful alerts, or having to log in and out of platforms to find the information you need.
Clutter is also cleared from your inbox. We’ve removed headers, signatures and repeating threads, and split your messages based on priority. This means you have more time to focus on your journey and the things that really count.
But it’s also worth remembering that a journey can exist on many levels. It can be finding joy from the big things, like teaching yourself to create and edit a powerful video – or attending a seminar that changes the entire course of your business.
And it can also come from the small things. Spike has been created as a joyful app. It’ll save you loads of time, yes, but it’s also fun to use. You can create doodles, fire off gifs while communicating with your clients in a slick conversational format – even if they don’t have Spike themselves.
Email is a central part of everyone’s lives: it’s here to stay. So what better way to spark joy in a little way, each and every day?
How do you find your ikigai? Tweet us @SpikeNowHQ and let us know how you find your joy and purpose.