Are you having FUN in your life?
This was the question my coach James posed to our mastermind group at a recent retreat.
I immediately felt defensive.
FUN? Of course I’m not having fun! But it’s for a good reason. I’m a responsible adult who’s getting things DONE! I’m helping 3 kids with virtual learning and running a business and making sure everyone has clean underwear. My life is too important to have fun!
I knew this inner dialogue was BS. But worse… it was sad. It’s sad that I don’t have much fun. That I go through my days feeling like they’re one long to-do list. That I accomplish a lot, but I’m not enjoying it.
“FUN is fuel. If you’re not having fun, you’re lacking fuel for your business. Fun is critical to your success.”
I’d never seen the connection between fun and success. They seemed like opposite ends of the seesaw, when one went up, the other went down.
At the end of our retreat, I spoke to James one-on-one.
“This feels ridiculous to ask, but… how do I make myself see fun as important?”
The problem was not that I didn’t know how to have fun. It was that I didn’t value fun.
James asked, “When’s the last time you really had fun?”
“When Josh does his Donald Trump impression and talks to the cat.” (I’m blessed with a hilarious husband who does a spot-on Trump impression. And yes, I’m actively trying to convince him to do stand-up.)
“How did you feel afterward?” he asked.
“Just, you know… lighter.”
“Now,” he said, “Imagine… how would it feel to work on your business in that frame of mind?”
“Better,” I admitted. It was true. When I bring a nose-to-the-grindstone mentality to my business – which, even though I love my business, is how I often do it – it feels heavy, neverending.
Could silliness improve my business? Who knew? But it was worth a try.
That night I made a list titled FUN IS FUEL.
I filled the page with a list of things I find fun, including:
- Reading – alone or with my kids
- Going for walks with Josh
- Bowling (but only one game, after that it’s decidedly not fun)
So I had my list. I knew what was fun. Yet the barrier was still there: convincing myself WHY I should bother with fun in the first place.
The next day when I got home from my retreat, Josh and the kids were visiting his parents. I had the house to myself. The first thing I did was tidy up the kitchen, clean sticky spots off the dining room floor, and scrub the downstairs bathroom.
Then I reconciled with myself…
Rose, you’re supposed to be having FUN and you’re just tasking! This is what you do. You’re feeling accomplished about those gleaming bathroom fixtures right now, but are you having FUN?
No, I was not.
I consulted the list.
My eyes landed on one item: Nature hike.
It was a beautiful October day. There was a metropark just a few miles from my house. But…
There’s another bathroom to clean! And a slide presentation due for a big talk on Tuesday. And you haven’t done your September books and it’s mid-October! And laundry. And paperwork. And… and… and…
If I was going to have fun, the biggest battle would be with the taskmaster in my head who’d been running the show for 30+ years.
She was strong and 100% used to getting her way.
I put on my tennis shoes and a sweatshirt. (She raised her eyebrows.)
I packed a small backpack with a water bottle and my phone. (She frowned and cocked her head to the side.)
I drove to the metropark and sat in the parking lot. (She rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh.)
Are you really going to do this? The slides! The other bathroom! The errands you could be checking off while your husband and kids aren’t home!!! You’re wasting a perfectly good opportunity to get things done!
God, she had a lot of arguments. And all I had was one flimsy sheet of paper titled FUN IS FUEL.
But I remembered James’s words. Fun would help me be more successful. I owed it to myself to give it a shot.
I started hiking, figuring that as I went along, I’d start to enjoy it. I’d start to feel that this activity really was the most important use of my time when I could be doing a million other things.
The day was pretty. Families took photographs near the pond. People walked dogs. Leaves fell. The crunch under my feet sounded nice.
I tried to notice it all, like the Zen masters who live in the present moment. I was trying really hard. In a grit-your-teeth-and-have-fun kind of way.
The taskmaster stood there, arms folded, smiling smugly.
At least you’re getting steps in, she said.
SHUT UP. This is not about steps. This is about FUN! I snapped back.
One mile in. The trail turned and looped back.
I saw a couple walking toward me. Probably in their 70s. They held hands and walked slowly along the path, careful not to fall. They smiled at each other and talked quietly as they walked. Careful step by careful step.
We passed and said a pleasant hello.
I walked a few more steps.
And then it hit me…
At the end of your life, you’ll wish you’d taken more walks in the woods.
This was not the taskmaster. It was a different voice. A knowledge. A truth.
I suddenly saw the trees, the sky, the falling leaves.
You’ll wish you’d done more of this.
Tears started to fall.
This is why this hike is more important than any slide presentation or sparkling faucet. Because my time here is limited. And when I get to the end of my life, I’ll cherish each moment I spent in lovely ways.
I finished my hike, tears streaming down my cheeks.
I walked out of those woods a slightly different version of the woman who walked in.
The taskmaster was silent for the rest of the day. In the face of this truth, she had nothing more to say.
I want to tell you something:
We are not here just to complete tasks and work jobs and run families. We’re here to enjoy life. Fun and work are not mutually exclusive. They feed each other.
Maybe you’re like me, and for a long time, you’ve reasoned away the fun in your life. You’ve thought that you had more important things to do than enjoy yourself. You’ve seen fun as detracting from the serious tasks you needed to accomplish.
Well, I have to tell you… that’s a lie.
Because the truth is…
Fun fuels our lives. It’s a critical, life-giving component of our businesses, our families, our commitments. It sustains us.
So I urge you…
Have some fun. Go for a walk in the woods. Dance. Laugh. I promise, at the end of your life, you’ll be happy you did.
To a life with more fun,
PS Would having less clutter create more space for fun in your life? If so, grab my FREE Simplicity Starter guide and let’s get going!