The Forgotten Factor In Job Searching – Fun

swingingWe have forgotten how to play.


We spend so much time trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up and rushing to be a grown up that we lost that one great element about being a kid: the ability to play.


I have bills to pay, I have responsibilities, I have kids to rear, spouses to support, organizations to report to, friends to lunch with – I don’t have time.  Bull.


I do play – I play golf, softball, basketball, baseball, horseshoes, bowl etc, I do play.  Not the same.  That is competing.  Even if it is for fun, you are still competing.


I’m a highly competitive person even a game of horse with my son was a competition.  It didn’t matter that he is 6’1” and I am 5’ it was a competition and we both knew it.


The hilarity of me being competitive against a 20 year old, athletic, tall kid made it fun and that is when the playing began.  But it wasn’t the sport.  Because sports are competitive.


Job searching is competitive.  Learn to play not just compete.


Michael Jordan had a great quote, “Practice like you have never won, play like you have never loss.”  I think you should incorporate that into your job searching.  Be confident when walking into that interview like it is your job.  But don’t make it all about the competition.


When you forget to play you lose the love of what you are doing.  The competition becomes a job.  A serious of void actions you have to perform out of expectation rather than passion or desire.


That doesn’t sound fun.


And let’s face it, most of our decisions, whether we want to admit it or not, are based on if they are fun, pleasing or have any positive affects for us.  We like fun.  We are all about fun.  But we forgot how to play for fun.


I was coaching a client the other day on interviewing, they had a panel interview coming up and nerves were getting frazzled.  I suggested to bring in the element of fun, of playing.


We immediately size up people so have fun with it – play a game.  See who is open, who is not, who is really in charge, who thinks they are, who wants to be there, who doesn’t, who likes their job and who really hates theirs.  All in your head of course.


Then see if you can engage the negative people and bond with the positives.  Make it a little side game.  It brings the element of play in and helps relax you.


When we are playing we are alive.  We feel good emotionally, mentally and physically.  That is another way you can tell if you are competing or playing.   We express ourselves and are more open to others and the world.


I am so glad it is Spring in Indiana because I can take my daily play break.  I go out back with the dogs and play.  I don’t think about what I need to do, should do or might be doing and stop thinking about anything other than making sure one of the big puppies doesn’t jump on me – or step in dog poop.


I play.  I might throw sticks for the dogs to fetch or play chase with them.  Yes, a couple of the dogs like to think I am chasing them and they take off around the yard like a rocket.  I get lost in that moment and that moment alone which means I laugh – a lot, loud, often and unapologetically.  I roll around in the grass and give belly rubs and lots of praise.


This may take five minutes or 20, it just depends on the mood of the pups that day and how easily they wear out – ok, or me.  But in those few minutes I play and I become alive again.


Going back to my day I am revitalized, I am refreshed and I am relaxed.  My thinking is clearer, my mood is light and I am happy.  Because I played.


If I am out of the office all day in meetings or workshops I incorporate play in a whole new way.  On breaks I might find a quiet place like a park or outdoor area and take off my shoes and walk around in the grass.  Sometimes I have stopped at a park and got on the swings.  I loved that as a kid!  The point is   I find some way to disconnect and just be on my own in my own little world.


I may play a game of happy surprise.  That is giving random compliments to people and see how many are completely shocked that a stranger said something nice beyond “have a nice day.”  I tally it up and if I am the winner (which I always am since it is just me) then I might treat myself to ice cream or dark chocolate.


The point is we all have stress, tension, hectic schedules and lots of reasons to push aside time to play.  But those are not really reasons, they are excuses.  You have no reason not to play.


Sound strange, juvenile or just plan crazy? Good.  Normally things that work the best sound the craziest at first.  But just try it.  Go play today – give yourself five minutes of you time where you do nothing but something playful.  Don’t think about work, kids, spouses, bills, etc and enjoy the purity and simplicity of those few moments of play.


Do this a few times in a week (like Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and see how your attitude changes.  Notice the difference in how you talk to yourself, treat yourself and view your tasks.  Also, notice how others respond to you because there will be a change in you and whether they say it or not they will notice which will be demonstrated in how they change in their response to you.


Allow yourself to reconnect to the best part of you – the fun side!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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