Some of my most memorable moments in life both big and small were when I was playing. Usually with someone else for the ride. Could I say that about being an entrepreneur? The promise of opening my own business came with the idea of freedom. Freedom to play more. To go on more adventures and enjoy the flexibility of doing work on my own terms. I wanted to be Sir Richard Branson. That guy is always smiling and having a great time. Then reality set in…
Somewhere along the way, I stopped playing and kept working 18 hours a day to run my business, it didn’t really help move things forward. I got burned out, stressed out and bummed out. My clients suffered and so did I. So what’s a business owner to do? Start playing.
You could call it a life/work balance, but even more than just taking time to do something nice for yourself it’s important to just do something playful. Schedule it if you have to in the beginning, but it works even better if you don’t. Unlike many things we can do to help ourselves as entrepreneurs and business owners, play only requires that you tap into your inner child.
That little part of yourself that used to play outside every day and ride bicycles or sit on ground with a stick of chalk drawing all kinds of giant creations. There have been plenty of studies done about the benefits of play.
My own coaches remind me to play and encourage me to make a regular part of my day. When I do that, things go easier. Challenges are met head-on and inspired solutions come in without the headaches. It’s easy to skip playtime in lieu of some long to-do list, but don’t do it. Get in your play and your work will be so much better when you get back to it.
So if it’s been a while since you’ve played, here are some tips to get started:
Rediscover something you did as a child – Did you like to draw pictures? Get yourself a sketchpad. Did you play the clarinet when you really always wanted to learn the violin? (That’s a story for another post.) Beginner violins on Amazon are very inexpensive and YouTube has a ton of instructional video made by dedicated musicians. Were you one of those people who LOVED dancing in gym class? Just turn up Spotify and dance around the office with your dog.
Keep it in front of you – Whatever you decide to do, keep it in front of you. My violin case sits next to my desk. It’s a reminder to play. Sometimes I’ll keep a YouTube Video open in a tab to remember that I wanted to learn something on the violin like a new song or how to tune it without breaking the strings.
Don’t worry about planning it out – I’ve been writing about priorities for a bit now and some of that comes with planning. Play works best when you just do it as part of your day. Make it a habit not a chore. If your other tasks are mapped out in your calendar there’s no danger of spending too much time in play because those pre-set reminders will be pulling you back in right on cue.
Whatever you decide to do for play, make it a regular habit to stop, get out of your chair and play “Kick the Can”. You’ll be a better entrepreneur and maybe keep that sense of adventure just a little longer…