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The Important Value of Play In Our Serious World…

By Steve Beseke, senior vice president and resiliency practice leader at think2perform – http://think2perform.com.

As I continue to deal with a few more challenges with my physical disability, I think about work/life balance and the best lifestyle to keep me healthy. Not just for tomorrow but 10, 20 or even 40 years from now.

When was the last time you had a heart to heart chat with yourself? The last time you asked: “ How does the value of play make me even better at what I professionally do?”

Our lives and careers are very serious business. We go about our days with stout determination that success will definitely stay with us. That is, if we only work that extra hour, finish that project way ahead of schedule, or continually focus on completing task after task until they are completed - no matter what.
No matter what, you say...isn't there something else in life to shoot for? The short answer is “yes,” and the long answer is also the same.

I saw a recent luxury car commercial where someone was measuring success by only taking two weeks off a year, so he could continue his million$$$ lifestyle – and, of course, be able to buy that new top-end car every two years.

National studies show having "fun" i life is extremely important to our health and is sometimes a missing ingredient for many of us. One study suggests that "not finding significant time away from the office to play," could dramatically hurt our successful career and life path.

The message I suggest you think about and one I haven't always followed is: If you don't step away from the office for awhile, turn off the computer after the 50th job application filled out, forget to kiss your spouse, or don’t have to spend with your wonderful kids and pets, you could become burned out and have out-of-control stress.

Sounds obvious, right?

None of us want that - no matter how focused we are on our careers or with other passions in our lives. To stay resilient, happy and fulfilled, we need to enjoy life and find those "sweet spots" that make us happy. We need to continue to use our life skills to love life and get through those rough patches.
I say this because I need to hear it. Sometimes, I’ve spent 60 to 80 hours a week at least thinking about work in some way or another. Are you thinking about work as you sip a tall cool one on a beautiful Saturday night with your significant other? Or, you are at your son's baseball game physically but mentally thinking about work in some way.

A very inspired colleague of mine, Doug Lennick @DougLennick, has convinced me that work and play are really about WDYWFY – What do you want for yourself?

The profoundly simple steps in life he highlights are:

1. Have a goal (that passes the acid test)
2. Have a plan (complete with key activities)
3. Implement the plan
4. Control Direction (keep score and redirect)
5. Throw off discouragement (utilizing your own emotional competence and resilience)

Sounds like some test you’d only do at work. But it is not. Have you done this or something similar when it comes to planning your personal fun/play? How has it helped you? I'd love to get your comments. Send them to me at sbeseke@think2perform.com.

From my viewpoint, the way we live life is at least partially because of our 21st century world of living through the 24/7 cycle I mentioned earlier. We think we need to keep grinding and achieving something every single moment of our lives. Like me sometimes, are you nearly always a click away from checking e-mail, or trying to finish that last-minute report, or finding something to do about anything?

When was the last time you shut down your technologies? Where you sat back and said this is a healthy time away from work for myself to play – however you define the word.

I think the all-day lifestyle we lead helps us always stay too focused on the serious business of life and career - as we forget to take a deep breath or two and play. We don't always do this intentionally...there's just a lot of serious stuff on our plate and fun can wait.

We need to break out of this never-ending cycle.

Another national survey showed that stress levels of those employed or looking for work are off the charts these days. Again, we are in serious times, but when was the last time you went to the lake and skipped rocks across the water's surface? Had a quiet brew with a friend at a coffee shop with your phone and computer turned off? Set aside time for yourself and maybe finish that jigsaw puzzle that's been on that card table downstairs for what seems like years?

Or, even more importantly, setting aside time with your significant other to do something fun and spontaneous for just the two of you. Maybe going to an antique shop? Staying for a night at a special bed and breakfast? Or, holding each other's hands watching the sun set?

A healthy resilience and lifestyle is not just being in "your serious mode" all the time.

Fun can be a very unique experience. I suggest spending the next 15 minutes listing some of the fun you could be having if you weren't so involved with your career or business. Then - tonight - share it with your significant person and ask he/she to jot down a few bits of fun. Share and find additional ways – and time - to stay happy and fulfilled. Come on, do it for your sake.

For me, my fun is spending time finding antiques with my lovely wife - having my iPhone off. Or, going out for a quiet dinner at a place we've never been to before without thinking about that next client meeting.. Or, cuddling with our two doxies, or "weiner" dogs, and loving them without mentally composing my next e-mail message. Or, traveling to some exotic place and walking on a secluded beach where there is no Internet. Can you imagine that?

I'm not such an old-fashioned guy, but I think we need to simplify and have a bit of fun for our health's sake. Right now, I'm going to turn off my computer and phone, and sit back and relax. This will relieve my immediate stress that makes my back and tight muscles tense up, and allow my disability to become more of a challenge.

I suggest you need to find your own fun and "sweet spots." And, guess what? By allowing yourself time for such WDYWFY type of things, you'll be more energized and successful with the more serious and mundane parts of your world.

It is amazing how your world can change if you incorporate fun/play back into your life.

Please be looking for new video vignettes and e-books on resilient strategies for you on my web site very soon. Check out my life skills’ site – http://resiliencyfirst.com.

Thanks, again, for your support and take care.