Using Marie Kondo’s Method to Redesign Your Career

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About four years ago, I stumbled across a book at Chapters-Indigo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I thought it seemed a little far-fetched to claim that tidying could have life-changing magic, but it did sound great to lighten my load and have a simple home for all of my belongings. Little did I know how much of an impact the book would have on my entire life all these years later. And it seems like it has for many others! 

So imagine my excitement when I opened Netflix on my computer and discovered Marie’s new tv show a couple months ago!! As you can probably guess, I had the entire show finished in about a week. Who else has fallen in love with Marie’s show?! 

The reason Marie’s concepts and instruction have changed numerous areas in my life is that the main concept is very versatile. The most important concept (that I’ve picked up) is this: You deserve to live a life surrounded by only things, people and activities that spark immense joy. We tend to accumulate and live cluttered lives based on what we think we “should” be holding onto. By letting go of everything that doesn’t spark joy, you’re left with what you cherish most. And this is how all of us deserve to live our lives. This is why I believe the KonMari method goes well beyond material objects. And she shares in her book that her past clients went on to quit jobs, ask for a divorce, and let go of friendships that weren’t adding value to their lives as a result of learning how to organize their homes.

Photo by @stilclassics

Photo by @stilclassics

This is why the KonMari method can be applied so beautifully to how we design our careers. It’s not just a method about folding, it’s about identifying priorities and putting intentional effort into things that bring us joy. I’ll break this down based on Marie’s approaches. 

You deserve to be surrounded by what you love. 

What are the different components of your career (job, professional development, networking, etc) that you put time into? More importantly, do all of them spark joy? Or are you taking part in some things because other people have suggested you should or you think it’s the only way to be successful in your field? If you dread conferences, can you choose not to partake in them? Could you find another form of professional development that energizes you instead? With the gig economy, people are getting creative, and that’s incredibly exciting! Could you grow your side hustle and quit your day job? Maybe you could take a 6-month ‘sabbatical’ (regardless of your field) after saving up, and spend that time reading, traveling and learning in another part of the world. People think that a gap in their resume is the worst thing they could do, but if you explain that you intentionally took time off to reflect and grow, this could be something that sets you apart from everyone else. In fact, many employers seek out individuals who took a gap year in their youth because they recognize the character, intention, and self-reflection these individuals have. One of the most famous examples of an impactful gap year is JK Rowling’s year she spent in Portugal, writing “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The bottom line is that (likely) if you’re able to read this blog, then you have complete free will in your career. Use that free will to build something that speaks to you and brings you joy at every stage of your career. 

“Waking things up”

Although I knew this was part of Marie’s method, I couldn’t help but giggle the first time I watched her tapping books to wake them up on her show. She’s adorable in all her wisdom. Marie reminds us that everything has energy, and she taps on material objects to wake them up. This helps initiate the organizational process, and it seems to help the homeowners reconnect with their forgotten belongings. The sacred process Marie has by introducing herself to the home of her clients and helping them wake objects up is the perfect example of how to start an intentional process of creating priorities in a realm where we’ve been living on autopilot. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and years fly by in our career. One day you wake up and you’re a different person than who you were when you made choices about your role and tasks. Your career should change as you do, and it takes intention and making time to reflect on changes you’d like to make. 

Don’t let guilt keep you attached 

One of the most memorable parts of Marie’s book for me was about letting go of gifts. Marie says that everything serves a purpose, even if it’s just for a short amount of time. If you have a gift you were given years ago and you don’t like it, you might be holding onto it because you’d feel guilty to donate it or throw it away. Marie says that the gift served its purpose at the moment the giver shared it with you. They showed that they care about you. They didn’t intend on gifting you guilt five years later. This can be applied to your career as well. Don’t let guilt keep you attached to parts of your career. If you were offered a role or position that doesn’t suit you, don’t accept simply because you feel rude turning them down. Similarly, don’t feel bad for leaving a role that you no longer connect with out of obligation. It might take some time for the company or organization to find a suitable replacement, but likely they’ll be replacing you with someone who does feel excited about that role. It’ll be a better shift for everyone involved. Don’t let someone else’s idea about who you should be and what they assume you enjoy dictate the decisions you make. Only you know what sparks joy, you’re the joy master ;) 

A festival of large-scale change

Marie Kondo recommends setting aside large chunks of time for having a big organizational festival! She explains that cleaning and organizing all at once creates momentum and gets you excited in a way that cleaning out one drawer a month just won’t do. This excitement will create longer-lasting change because you’ll see the results right away. Now I don’t think that you can set aside one weekend and expect to completely transform your entire career. But I do think that if you spend a large chunk of time reflecting on all different aspects of your career, and creating a vision of where you want to be, you’ll be excited to start making changes right away. And enlist help in the process! Talk with a friend, a spouse, or a family member to discuss what you envision and bounce ideas off of them. If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, work with me one on one so we can identify your barriers, strengths, goals and get you designing your dream career. Work with all of your resources to take stock of where you are, and make shifts in your career to spark more joy! And festivals are celebrations, so don’t get bogged down in what you haven’t accomplished yet. Celebrate how far you’ve come and use that passionate momentum to move forward. 

“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” 

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Choose what to keep in your career and allow what sparks joy to drive the changes you make as you go. Nothing stands still, and your career demands you take stock of what excites and energizes you. Only you can make these choices, and you deserve to pare down until you’re left with a career you love.