Imagine the last time you had a big goal. You set out, energetic and fully committed.
The initial enthusiasm faded and reality set in. You hear the thought “this is going to be harder than I thought”.
…You know what happens next.
Your energy begins to dwindle. You tell yourself that you need to work harder, get more serious, and buckle down.
No pain, no gain, right?
Here’s the thing--the problem isn’t the goal.
The problem is the thoughts your mind has about the goal.
When we adopt a “hard work” mindset, the mind equates the task with being overly demanding.
There’s an implied struggle and sacrifice with this kind of work, making it feel unsustainable.
Mental fatigue sets in.
We question whether we have what it takes to succeed.
But what if used an entirely different approach to goal-seeking? An approach that’s energy-inspiring instead of energy-draining.
Inspired action originates from courage and abundance, inspired by feelings of playfulness, curiosity, and fun.
When we decide to approach a goal from inspiration and possibility, we get to side-step any second-guessing, confusion, and self-judgment over missteps along the way.
Staying out of confusion is the secret to staying on track toward what we want.
I think back to 2001, when I decided to run my first marathon. Soon after I began training, I noticed that my perfectionist tendencies were self-sabotaging my efforts.
I agonized over how well I would do, afraid of disappointing myself. Meanwhile, I was missing out on the joy and fun of trying something both new and challenging, without any acknowledgment of the small achievements I was hitting along the way.
At that point, my inner knowing decided that she was going to run the show.
My energy dramatically shifted to something much more productive and fun. I was doing the same (if not more) work, but I was being fueled by a different kind of energy.
My expectations became very simple: I was to show up, laces tied, and ready to run for a certain amount of time. I focused less on pace and miles, and more on how I wanted to feel while running.
From inspired action, the work felt almost effortless.
It had evolved into purposeful play.
Purposeful play invites in productivity, creativity and result creation. By focusing less on what you have to do and more on what you want to do and how you wish to feel, work becomes less goal-driven and more enjoyable.
We can tune in to our heart and find more creative and effective ways to do our best work.
It might seem that play could diminish ambition, but when we work from inspired, playful action, the opposite is true. Creativity, courage, and curiosity spark powerful invention and increased productivity.
We become better versions of ourselves while experiencing less stress and burnout. We accomplish amazing things.
Whether it’s mundane daily jobs or our most meaningful work, we get to decide how to fuel ourselves. Different energy produces different results.
This is the secret to sustained effort toward our most meaningful pursuits—while enjoying the process.
When we can approach life with a lighthearted playfulness, our minds expand toward imagination and possibility.
So if you're feeling stuck, remember to play today.
With you on this most playful journey.
PS- Where have you benefited from playfulness in your work? Share it here. I’m all ears.