Making Room for Joy

Making room for joy enables you to better achieve your leadership goals – you will be more resilient, more enthusiastic and better able to lead as your authentic self.

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Time 30-45 Minutes
Difficulty Easy
Participants Individual
Materials Pen, paper, calendar

By reflecting on what brings you joy and what drains you, you can create opportunities for more joy in your life.

Joy, by definition, is ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’. By making room for joy in your everyday life and reducing things that drain you, you can minimise their impact on you.

The life of leaders who work with our society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people is often one lived in a state of survival. As you can imagine, the concept of joy is very far away from their mind.

Bringing more joy into your life, even if it is small moments of joy everyday, makes us feel more motivated, less overwhelmed, more creative and more able to respond to challenges. Don’t believe us? Most people don’t until they give it a go.



Take a piece of paper and create two columns, the first titled Joy and the second titled Drain.

In the Joy column list things that bring you joy. Joy is ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’. Joyful things can energise you, and they can also calm you – some people find it useful to consider a mixture of different kinds of activities which you can then choose from depending on your need.

In the Drain column write a list of things that drain you and your energy. Spend 15 minutes reflecting on this.

The things that bring you joy or drain you are specific to you, no one else. Write it down no matter how small, insignificant or silly they seem. You like watching cat videos on youtube? Great, put it down.


Now take a look at your list of things that bring you joy and drain you. Honestly reflect on your:

  • Day
  • Week
  • Month

How much of your day is made up of things that bring you joy and how much is filled with things that drain you? Spend 15 minutes reflecting on this.


Take a look at your calendar or diary over the next 2-3 weeks and find places where you can build in more joy. Make time for a little bit of joy everyday. You can be specific about what joyful thing you can do in that time, or you can leave it open to decide what you feel like doing in the moment. Either way, make some time for your joy.


Now, look at the next 2-3 weeks and see how many things that drain you are in there. Think about whether you can;

  • Remove them
  • Reduce them
  • Recognise they are there and build more joy around them to help limit their impact

Finally, take a moment to make a note in your calendar or diary in 2-3 weeks to take 15 minutes to reflect on the impact of building more joy into your life has had on you, your leadership and those around you. Don’t skip this step! We need time in order to see changes and to build new habits.

Facilitator notes

If you are in a period of burn out, or have recently been, you may struggle to think about things that bring you joy. That’s ok, think about when you were a child or a time you can remember having joy in your life. What did you choose to do? What did you spend your time doing and how much joy did it bring? Make a list of those things.


This exercise was developed by the Clore Social team. Read Louise Drake, Clore Social Leadership’s Director of Programmes and Leadership Innovation, blogpost on “The importance of joy and why your leadership depends on it” here:


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This practice can help you overcome self-paralysis and take action by separating what you can control from what you cannot.

SWOB Analysis
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SWOB Analysis

Create your own development picture by mapping your Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Barriers.

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