Is the solution to gamify your tasks and projects?
To start a new business?
To invite people a creative lunch every week?
Or to learn time management so you can get the boring things done faster and experience a clearer mind?
Well, it could be any or all of the above – but that’s not where to start, according to Jason Goldberg, #1 international bestselling author of Prison Break
and creator of the training program Playful Prosperity.
“We could all google ideas of what to do. But that won’t change anything. If strategies and tactics were enough we would all have billion-dollar businesses, six-pack abs and perfect relationships,” he says.
“Before making changes to the conditions around us, we need to focus on the energy we are bringing to the table in the work we are already doing. It’s not about what’s on your plate; it’s about who you are as you do those things. The ‘doing’ part will come naturally when the ‘being’ part is in place.”
Our resistance to having fun
Many of us try to convince ourselves that stress, overwhelm, anxiety and frustration come with the territory if we want to be ambitious and successful.
“Bringing in a lighter spirit into everything we do – feeling relaxed, calm, playful and lighthearted instead of bogged down by seriousness and heaviness – won’t make you a slacker like some people believe. I sometimes hear people say they won’t be motivated to take action if they aren’t overwhelmed or stressed, or that ‘fun’ is some kind of luxury. But these are just notions that have been around for so long we believe they are true,” Jason explains.
He teaches people to re-evaluate that truth as they make the switch over to more fun and lightheartedness.
“There’s a difference between being serious in your work and being sincere. Approaching things with more playfulness and calmness doesn’t mean you are giving up your integrity or doing the job half-heartedly. Quite the opposite. Performance becomes easier.”
Where to start: Turning on the fun-switch
If you’ve had enough of stress or boredom at work and crave more fun, you must first realize that it can only occur now.
Not next week, month or year when conditions are right. But now. In this moment, as it spreads further into this day, this week, this month and this year.
“The days and weeks are made up of those moments. Instead of waiting or planning for a better future, it’s amazing how much your reality can change if you embrace this moment. When people ask me how I lost 133 pounds, I say ‘I didn’t; I lost one pound 133 times’”. Sometimes we are too future-focused, but the only thing that exists is this moment.”
The easiest way to practice
Yes, you need practice.
“I can watch someone swing a baseball bat all day, but until I personally swing a baseball bat I don’t know what it’s truly like,” says Jason.
There are a couple of tricks that will help you grab that mental baseball bat and start swinging. The first is to program your mind in the morning, as soon as you wake up tomorrow and then each morning after that, with the new rules of play:
“Instead of checking your e-mail or social media first thing, which is setting your day up to be in responsive mode, set yourself up to win. Ask yourself the question: ‘How do I intend to use my life today?’. The word ‘intend’ will remind you that you have a choice and can take actions in that direction, and the word ‘use’ is an active word, not saying you will be ‘used’ but that you are the one making the call to intentionally use your life.”
Jason personally asks himself this question every morning. Every day.
“I can meditate on the question for two minutes, or spend five minutes journaling on it. Sometimes I pick three words I want to bring into that day so that I’m more intentional with how I use my life that particular day. The words could be ‘calm’, ‘creative’ and ‘courageous’.”
This will change the way you approach your day.
And it gets easier as you get used to it.
The second trick is to build a feedback mechanism to hammer new neuro-pathways into your brain. Set an alarm to go off a few times a day to remind you to check in with yourself and calibrate your state of mind at that moment.
“Make a note of your state of mind each time. It will make you more aware. Each time the alarm goes off, ask yourself: ‘How can I be 5 percent more calm, creative or courageous at this moment?’.”
What to expect
The big shift will happen after a while, when you have practiced for some time. Then you’ll run into situations at work where you would normally think ‘Oh, I feel stressed and frustrated so I must push myself to work really hard now to get this done’. Suddenly you realize you don’t need to be pulled down by that pressure.
“Typically we see it as normal to feel that heaviness. We don’t even think about it, much less question it. As your awareness increases, you’ll be able to slow down and say, ‘How am I relating to this right now? Is it really what’s on my plate that is causing me to feel this way, or is it how I’m relating to it?’.”
It’s not just a cheap trick
This practice is not just something you do to feel better. It’s something that will make you noticeably more productive, creative and empowered to make better decisions.
“If the associations and companies who are paying me big money to come and speak didn’t see their people becoming more productive, I wouldn’t be invited back. If you stick to this practice you will experience these changes.”
This new approach to what’s in front of you doesn’t mean you won’t be tired at the end of the day, Jason adds.
“At the end of a very productive day I’m still very tired, but enthusiastically so. Coming from a spirit of play makes you feel more purposeful. And you feel less resentful, less judging of other people and yourself, and you develop closer relationships with yourself, your team, your friends and your family.”