“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
But let’s be real, work a lot of times still feels like work even when we have the career of our dreams.
For a lot of us, work is our way making a living and supportiing ourselves and our family. Even when we finally feel like we’re doing what we love, we lose our passion for it at some point.
So what does it mean to have fun at work?
It means to incorporating “play” in ways that’ll keep us engaged and motivated. Research shows that play can impact our level of performance!
It’s about changing our mindset… a mindset that leads to more positive action, even during challenging times.
For those who are having trouble incorporating more aspects of play into your career, this post will be a great starting point!
How Do We Define Play?
Research in recent years has shown the importance of how play can impact our work.
Stuart Brown, M.D., author of the book “Play,” and the founder of National Institute of Play, says that “when employees have the opportunity to play, they actually increase their productivity, engagement and morale.”
Sure, it is more difficult for adults to reach a play state than for children — I think that this is partially due to the way we define play. According to Dr. Stuart Brown, “Play is a state of mind that one has when absorbed in an activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of sense of time. And play is self-motivated so you want to do it again and again.”
One can also say that our play state is essentially our flow state, which is a mental state in which a person is completely focused on a certain task. It is that feeling you get when you are “in the zone.”
How Can We Incorporate More Play Into Our Work?
Now that we have explored what “play” can look like for adults, when was the last time you felt as if you were “in the zone”? The last time when you felt like time was passing by without you even noticing.
At the Uplift conference hosted by BetterUp, Freestyle+ did a session on the science of flow state and sustaining peak performance.
They did an exercise with the audience where we paired up with one another to share with each other:
- What we do for work
- What we like to do outside of work (e.g. our hobbies)
- Connect the two (our work and our hobby)
It was eye-opening to me how many people had trouble with number 3! For many people in the room, the exercise was the first time they thought about how their hobbies are related to their work.
If you’re having trouble connecting the dots, try thinking of aspects of your hobby that you enjoy most. From there, think about how that shows up at your work.
To take this one step further, think about:
- How do these aspects of your hobby align with what’s important to you as a person?
- How can you incorporate more of these aspects into your work?
Take a few minutes to give this a try now! What have you uncovered?
Defining Work and Play
While doing what you love doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel like you have to work again, there are certainly ways to make it more fun. And in a way that engages and helps you take more positive action, even during tough times.
What is one thing you do at work that brings you to your flow state?