In the corporate symphony where women often play the unsung maestros, joy can sometimes feel like a distant melody. We are masters at orchestrating success, leading teams, and hitting targets, yet when it comes to the simple act of experiencing joy, we might occasionally feel out of tune.

Christmas is a season of joy. The music that fills the air is full of joy. Joy is expected to infuse the parties and family gatherings of the season. I love the way joy seeps out everywhere doing this season. And yet, joy is something to embrace all year long, even in our careers.

The path to joy is not always paved with promotions or accolades; rather, it winds through the quieter moments – the morning sun spilling over a report, the camaraderie in a shared laugh after a meeting that ran too long, the satisfaction of a challenge met with grace. Barriers both external and internal can mute the notes of joy that are meant to be our natural soundtrack.

Barrier 1: The Glass Ceiling of Joy

There’s a glass ceiling of joy we seldom talk about. It’s the subconscious belief that we must perpetually strive without pause — joy is a luxury afforded only after success is secured. But what if we shattered that? What if we allowed ourselves the radical act of experiencing joy amidst our climb and building?

Start small. Allow a moment of joy for every task completed. Let it be as simple as a stretch, a deep breath, or a sip of favorite tea. Joy doesn’t have to wait for a milestone; it can be woven into the fabric of our daily routine.

Barrier 2: The Myth of the Joyless Journey to Success

Society often paints a portrait of the successful woman as perennially serious, eternally overburdened. Yet, this caricature is as incomplete as it is unfair. We do not have to wear stoicism as a badge of honor. Joy is not the antithesis of success; it is a companion to success.

Redefine success. Make joy a metric of your achievements. Measure days not just by what’s been accomplished, but by the moments of joy experienced and created. Start a joy journal, jotting down daily occurrences that brought you a sense of happiness or fulfillment.

Barrier 3: The Self-imposed Shackles of Perfectionism

We often fall prey to the siren song of perfectionism. It tells us that there is no room for error, and somehow, we start believing that there is no room for joy either, in the relentless pursuit of flawlessness.

Practice self-compassion. Celebrate the imperfect journey. When you complete a project or task, resist the urge to critique. Instead, highlight what went well. Allow joy to come from the effort, not just the outcome.

Barrier 4: The Echo Chamber of Comparison

The conference rooms and digital forums we frequent can unwittingly become echo chambers of comparison. When we measure our bloopers against someone else’s highlight reel, joy naturally feels out of reach.

Cultivate gratitude and contentment for where you are now. When comparison creeps in, redirect your thoughts to your unique strengths and journey. Remind yourself that the only benchmark you need to surpass is the one you set for yourself yesterday.

Barrier 5: The Illusion of “I’ll Be Happy When…”

How often do we tell ourselves, “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion, land that client, or finish that project?” We postpone joy, treating it as a destination rather than the journey itself.

Embrace the “now” of joy. Find joy in the process, in the learning and growing that happens along the way. Let go of the idea joy is something to be earned later and invite it into your present.

Remember joy is not just a feeling, it’s a choice and a practice. It’s not about grand gestures or dramatic changes to our routine. It’s about the small, intentional acts that sprinkle our days with laughter, warmth, and contentment.

So, let’s make a pact, you and I. Let’s pledge to not only break through the glass ceilings of our industries but also the glass ceilings we’ve placed over our capacity for joy. Let’s commit to being ambassadors of bliss, in the boardroom, in our teams, and most importantly, within ourselves.

In the beautiful chaos of our lives, may we find the strength to choose joy, to lean into it, to let it buoy us through the storms and the calm alike. Here’s to not just finding joy, but unabashedly, unapologetically, living it.

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