“All innovation comes from seeing things in a new way, and people are more likely to see that when they are playful.” 

Daniel Goleman

This past weekend I was spending time with one my closest friends and we got to talking about playfulness.

She works a lot.  And as a consultant and business strategist that works out of her home, she could work round the clock if she allowed it; and truth be told, there are times that she does. 

She is also really good at what she does. But no matter how good she knows she is, the intensity of performing at that level consistently has felt challenging for her recently.  The more work she manages and the more clients that hire her, the more she seems to feel disconnected from who she is, despite her success. 

As she shared how she has been feeling and as we began defining what a successful life and career looks and feels like for her, we both became acutely aware that there has been a lack of fun and playfulness in her life; and it could be holding her back from an even greater path to success.

I could relate completely, because I have found the same to be true; that when I am having fun and enjoying a more vibrant personal life, I become increasingly productive, efficient and accomplished in my work life.  

And we’re not alone. More and more is being written about the link between playfulness and productivity.  According to Jessica Stillman in her Inc. Magazine article, “If you’re after a productivity boost, should you be thinking less about how to push your team and more about how to make them happy”.

So what happens when we forget to create joy and play in our lives?

When we lose touch with our playfulness, it can affect us in the following ways:

  • you will feel a heaviness, a weight on your shoulders
  • no matter how much you get done, the “to do” list will feel overwhelming
  • little challenges seem bigger than they should
  • you are not even sure what fun looks like anymore
  • despite the many hours you spend being “productive”, you don’t feel like you are actually doing anything at all

And what you probably don’t realize is that playfulness directly correlates to increased productivity and performance, in both life and career; not to mention how critical it is for the success of your relationship or marriage as well.  

When you welcome fun and play into your life, you are also welcoming in creativity, curiosity, expansion and innovation…ultimately leading to joy and life fulfillment.

When you find your playful, you open the door to unlimited possibility and the opportunity to unleash your greatest potential.

Here are four ways to tap back into your playfulness again:

Make playfulness is a mindset

Playfulness is not necessarily an activity you do; it is instead the state of mind.  Rather than putting pressure on yourself to create a “playful” list of things to do, consider adopting a mindset that gives you permission to view things through a new and more playful lens.

Discover what fun means to you

So many women I talk to have forgotten what fun means to them. As we get older, navigate the many ages and stages of our lives and balance the insane number of responsibilities that come with the many roles we hold, it becomes easy to lose track of what having fun once meant.  Take some time to reflect on what once may have made you laugh and giggle.  And when you do, write it down, and then find a way to bring it back into your life.  You will be surprised at how many ways there are to do this.

Be curious

Curiosity is my favorite word.  Often underrated, curiosity opens our minds in a new and playful way.   Make asking questions a habit. Lots and lots of questions.  Ask questions of yourself, of your children, of your friends, partner, colleagues and clients.  Allow curiosity to lead the way…ask as many questions as you have.  And make sure to ask them before you get critical and frustrated, ask them so that you can learn, grow and expand; the playfulness will come naturally.

Find your creative side

We all have one…our creative side. I have never considered myself “creative” or “artistic”, in fact I created the story long ago that I am a “spreadsheet girl” rather than a creator and innovator.  But that isn’t really the truth.  When I am put in a situation that requires me to be creative and when I give myself time and permission, I actually enjoy it, and begin to let my hair down and play.   Unfortunately, I don’t always allow myself the pleasure of creating.  So join me in letting your inner artist and innovator come out and play, I promise, she is a huge talent!

Despite how it sometimes might feel, it is not about how much you work or how many hours you put in, but rather about the way in which you choose to show up.  Choose playful, and propel yourself to success.

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