Interview: Jess Stuart talks about I Love Mondays
Jess Stuart is an author, coach and international speaker who empowers people to be their best. Jess helps high achievers build resilience, align to your authenticity, realise your potential and do work you love. A former Senior Human Resources professional with over a decade in recruitment, employee engagement and leadership development. Described as inspiring, articulate and relatable by audiences. Jess has a passion for sharing her knowledge and motivating others with her words. Jess talks to NZ Booklovers.
Why did you write I Love Mondays?
Out of the worlds one billion full time workers only 15% are engaged in our work. That means a massive 85% of us are unhappy in our jobs. As I entered the workforce society modelled a version of career success that revolves around status, titles and salary not passion, purpose and happiness. I had to go on my own journey to discover this. Coincidentally this took me through a career in Human Resources where I learned a lot about business, recruitment and how people perform at work, including the reasons we stay or leave.
It’s so important to love our work, we spend so much of our time there. If we love our work we perform better but it also flows into our life. We are happier and healthier, more resilient and our relationships are better when we enjoy what we do.
What is your book about?
This book explores how to find joy in your work and if that’s not your current job, how to find a new one. Master the art of work-life balance and get the job you’ve dreamed of. Discover the joy of finding meaning and purpose in the work that you do, working for a company that aligns with your values, where you get to use your strengths and grow. My decade in HR gives me this knowledge but was also the turning point for my own experience and finding work I loved.
Who is it for?
Those who want to find joy in their work and if that’s not their current role understand what kind of role they’d be better suited to and the practical process towards getting that job. Those who suffer from the Monday blues, want to find more purpose and meaning in their work or are contemplating a career change and not sure where to start.
What research was involved?
I drew on a lot of my time in Human Resources to explain how and why we do the work we do and the difference between loving our work and not along with a decade of coaching I was able to draw on models I've used to help others find joy in their work and the same recipe I used myself when reassessing my career options and opting for a complete career change to find a job I loved. I also had the pleasure of interviewing many others in various roles and industries to find out what made them love Mondays and pull together the reoccuring themes.
What will people get from I Love Mondays?
The book takes people through a roadmap for career success and step by step strategies they can apply
Step 1 – my best and worst day at work (what do I enjoy and what don’t I enjoy)
Step 2 – who am I and what job suits me (purpose, strengths and values)
Step 3 -what’s the formula for happiness at work
Step 4 - making a move, including CV & interview prep (and the things that stop us)
Step 5 - sustaining high performance and wellness at work (including managing workload
There’s also 20 case studies from those who love the work they do and none are travel bloggers in Bali or running yoga retreats at the beach. These are real people in real jobs; Accountants, software developers, project managers, healthcare workers, business owners and more.
Why do so many people feel unhappy at work?
We’re not taught this stuff at school and society models a version of career success that revolves around status, titles and salary not passion, purpose and happiness.
There’s often an intrinsic motivation at play that can be far more important (and rewarding) than the extrinsic we’ve given prevalence to. It could be the reason so many of us are unhappy at work and don’t feel like a ‘dream job’ really exists.
What makes us love our job or not?
Our enjoyment at work is made up of what we do, who we do it with and the environment that surrounds us (how we do it), including the systems, process, hours etc.
The job itself might be the problem: it doesn’t align to our skills, we’ve outgrown it and we’re bored, or it’s too hard and we’re stressed. Then again, it might not be. It could be the toxic people or terrible work culture. Even a good job is a struggle at the wrong company – are the people or the values of the company out of kilter with your own? Maybe your boss is a bully, or you’re an introvert working in a team of extroverts.
It could also be the conditions we have to work in or the hours we work. Is it the complicated commute to get to the office that’s the problem? How many of us loved our jobs more during Covid-19 lockdown, when we could do them from home in our PJs, without the daily commute, fluorescent lights and broken air conditioning? There’s more to it than simply the work we’re employed to do.
If we don’t like our jobs why don’t we just leave?
It’s not that easy. So many factors play into this big decision. The most obvious being money. I need this money to survive, especially if I’ve got responsibilities, bills, rent, kids. I can’t not have an income. I’ve got debts to pay. What if I don’t get another job? There are not enough jobs in the market to risk it right now. These are some of the common reasons we stay put.
They’ll also be lots of other factors that stop us. Our own fear of the unknown, not being confident we can make the change. Not wanting to lose what we’ve got and the security of the familiar. The career we’ve put so much effort into already. What will other people think? I like my colleagues and I’d feel bad for leaving them in this mess.
There’s also a sense of pressure we can often feel that stops us. This can come from inside ourselves or externally, from friends, family, colleagues or society. I’ve put too much into this career to give up now, what will people think, everyone else is doing it, my parents are proud, my friends think I’m successful, I earn good money, my colleagues respect me, who am I if I’m not my job title?
What was your process for writing this book?
It’s my fourth published book so I keep getting better each time, the process seems to be quicker now too! I’ve learned a lot and this time took myself off for a whole week in a cottage in the country to focus on solid writing which gave me a great start. In the past I’ve just snatched an hour before work to get words on a page with previous books, everyone is different and I’m constantly learning and improving this process.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?
Talking to all the people who loved their work and compiling the case studies was a highlight. Seeing the reoccurring theme and understanding their journeys to getting there, including the challenges they had to overcome I felt quite inspired.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
The Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays”.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
It was the summer break so lots of time at the beach, swims and chocolate!
What is the favourite book you have read recently, and why?
It's not recent but it's one of my favourites I keep coming back to and point my introvert clients to - Quiet by Susan Cain. In a word where so many of us are trying to change ourselves or be more like someone else this book helps introverts access their power rather than feeling they should be more extroverted.
This book will become an online course and coaching programme so we can use some practical training to take the words off the page and bring them to life to help more people find joy in their work and love Mondays.
Where can I get a copy?
Paperback and kindle available, see the website for details www.jessstuart.co.nz/love-mondays