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September 19, 2017

How Having More Fun can actually make us More Successful.

We should have moments of fun every single day.

I’m a father and I love my kids dearly.

However, I also know the sweet morsels of freedom my wife and I enjoy when the little monsters are out of the house for an hour or two.

Heck, just keeping the house clean for more than 12 minutes at a time would be a blessed occurrence. If that’s your idea of a good time, too, then you might also be a parent.

Kids are certainly not the only personal challenge many of us face, though. Some of us might feel the other side of the desert we’re crossing is when we get married, or divorced, or graduate from college, or when we can finally quit physical therapy, or when we work up the courage to ask someone out on a date.

This illustrates the “worth it someday, hopefully” (W.I.S.H.) mindset I’ve personally experienced and have helped many work through in private coaching sessions.

We see this mindset in a variety of phrases that float through our minds daily:

“Someday, all this effort will pay off.”

“Someday, I’ll feel better.”

“Someday, I’ll be happy.”

Someday…bloody someday. But in the meantime? Thirst. Frustration. Work. Stress. Lack of sleep. Anxiety. Being bombarded by a hundred demands simultaneously. Constantly putting out fires. Feeling the continuous pressure to stay ahead of the curve. After all, we never know who’s going to come along and kick us out.

Sounds fun, right? Who wants to sign up for that ride? Well, apparently, most of us. It’s the way the system was set up, wasn’t it? Dig in, endure, and push past the pain—that’s the way we get the best results, right?

But what if we stopped believing this to be true?

What if the culture of W.I.S.H. is, in fact, the pathway to less success? What if, in reality, enjoying life now—today—increased the likelihood of achieving success someday in the future? What if, by putting fun first, everything we do would be more productive? I’ve seen this firsthand in my own life, and in the lives of my clients.

Our work—no matter what it is—can and should pay off now. This month. This week. Today. It’s time for us to make the desert bloom—from the first step until our triumphant arrival at the other side.

The culture of W.I.S.H. teaches us that hard work, at any cost, is the pathway to success. By making our efforts “worth it someday, hopefully,” our society is becoming dragged down, burned out, and bummed out. Some of us have reached a constant state of pathos. This may be one reason for the proliferation in recent years of books about happiness.

Thankfully, there is a surprisingly simple yet effective antidote to the culture of W.I.S.H. This is the culture of W.I.N., or “worth it now.”

I know, it’s starting to feel like an acronym soup game, but stick with me. This simple construct provides the antidote to “someday, hopefully.” When we transition to the culture of W.I.N., we are creating not just a career, but a life that is “worth it”—so to speak—right now. Today. Not just at the end.

There are down-cycles in life which can feel like a drought. As rough, dry, and painful as a journey across a desert can be, imagine stumbling upon a beautiful oasis. Dehydrated, exhausted, sunburned, and pushed to the edge of sanity, we are met by a sudden yet welcome vision of a sparkling blue pool, palm trees shading a soft cabana, and refreshments by the truckload. Best of all, it is not a mirage. It is real. Such an experience would refresh the soul, would it not?

Yet, how do many of us feel when we have innocent fun? Guilty!

The culture of W.I.S.H. tells us we don’t deserve such moments. It whips us out of our temporary paradise and back to crawling beneath the blistering sun. “Deserve” is an undermining word because it implies good behavior earns a reward.

The culture of W.I.S.H. uses this construct to keep us under its grimy thumb. We don’t deserve a break yet because we didn’t complete that project. We don’t deserve to have a little fun because everyone else is working. We don’t deserve it because of the psychological baggage of our past.

The culture of W.I.S.H. is lying to us. Pop quiz: If we’re wandering through the desert, is water something we deserve…or is it something we need?

The culture of W.I.N. recognizes that these moments of refreshment are an essential part of the journey. Just as we require water to make it across the desert, so too do we require meaningful, refreshing, and fun breaks in our days.

How essential are they? A study by the Harvard Business Review and the Energy Project found that when a supervisor encouraged team members to take regular breaks, employees were 81 percent more likely to stay with the company and had a 78 percent increase in their sense of healthiness and well-being.

Additionally, those who took breaks at least every 90 minutes reported a 40 percent increase in creative thinking and a 28 percent improvement in focus. Who doesn’t need that?

The culture of W.I.N. is about taking control of our workday. We must claim the benefits of having little moments of fun, not because we deserve them, but because we know our performance will improve because of them.

We can start by setting up a daily oasis for ourselves. This is how we can get a small W.I.N. every day in the form of a meaningful break. We can create a short list of things we could do and then schedule times every single day on our calendars to take a break and have fun. Think short and meaningful: 15-30 minutes tops.

Personally, I take a daily oasis every day at 4:30 p.m. What do I do? I play video games for 30 minutes. Shocking, right? That’s just one example. Perhaps yours is going for a bike ride or watching a favorite show.

Next, we can set up a daily oasis with one family member. It should be a short check-in for 30 minutes or less. The key is to schedule it. Add it to our calendars. Then stick to that appointment with each other.

Try these two experiments for one month to see the results. This is about what works for each of us, so be flexible. But stick to the plan and test your personal W.I.N. every single day for a month and see what results we experience in our lives.

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*Based on an excerpt from The Power of Having Fun.

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Author: Dave Crenshaw
Image: @walkthetalkshow on Instagram
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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