We’ve been conditioned since childhood to value working over playing.
Remember when we were in school and had classes all day? Somewhere in between we’d get a short lunch break and then have to head to another round of classes. Adult life is eerily similar: arrive at work, attend a round of meetings, get a short lunch break halfway through the day, then head off to some more meetings before leaving.
This is fine if you like to be told what to do and work well within a defined structure. But many of us don’t. Instead, we work better when there aren’t rigid rules to abide by. When the answer to “Can I try doing it this way?” is always “Absolutely.”
But this is almost never the case in a system that’s designed for peak efficiency, because peak efficiency is usually defined by an organization as what brings in maximum profit. Do you see the problem with this? Maximum profit ignores how you, the employee, feels about yourself along the way. You could slowly be driving yourself insane and no one would notice.
Which brings me to the point of this post. There’s a concept most adults have all but forgotten: play.
Work is output. It’s an activity that you do to earn money. Play, on the other hand, is recreational — something that’s done for enjoyment.
Isn’t it interesting that working and playing are perceived as polar opposites? Hard work is romanticized. “She worked hard to earn her keep!” Playing tends to carry a negative connotation. “Quit playing around, Charlie, and get to work!” Hell, even Googling the word “play” yields a definition that states it’s an activity that’s “not for serious or practical purpose.”
Who says the two have to be mutually exclusive? If you ask me, part of avoiding burnout and feeling motivated to do great work is the ability to be open to experiment. The greatest risk of all is not taking one. If your work doesn’t give you that privilege, what are you working towards?