One of my most important goals at Rowan Coaching is to reinforce this founding principle: that the distinction between “work” and “play” is artificial and detrimental to creative growth.

This is an idea that millenials are familiar with — in theory, if not in practice. We’ve all heard about the Googles, Zappos, Virgins, and other companies that actively promote a broader concept of wellness as something that is not only helpful, but necessary for employees to do their best work.

Many of us strive to live our lives in a way that brings a sense of play to our everyday jobs. The problem is that not many of us are lucky enough to work in these unique business environments. So the extent to which we succeed is too often determined by the jobs we actually get, the financial pressures we’re under, and the expectations of those around and above us.

The thing is (at least in our humble opinion), this isn’t optional. Unless you’re fine with living a life that only includes play, joy, and creativity in your few daily hours of “free time”, that is. We want something bigger. Something braver. We want a life we’re excited to wake up to every day. One that allows us to work, play, make mistakes, brainstorm, create, connect, and thrive.

Don’t you?

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Yes? Ok, great. But where do you start? It’s sort of overwhelming to look at your current job and just think, “So today I’m going to play more…ummm…during meetings? No, that won’t work. After expense reports? Hmmm…”

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Instead of asking you to overhaul your whole life on the fly, we have a different approach. We start by helping you change your perspective through simple activities designed to challenge your thinking and disrupt your routine in a small, daily way.

The idea is that if you do just one of these fun, easy-to-accomplish activities per day, you will discover new ways to get creative, inspired, focused, and better without conflicting with your current work environment. Unless, of course, that’s just the kick in the pants you need to get out of a constrictive, joyless, or uninspiring job.

This is one of our favorite activities to jumpstart your thinking about the relationship between work and play in your everyday life.

List Your Good

Write a list of things that you’re good at. This is not a list of your “skills” exactly — don’t just copy and paste that extraneous section at the end of your resume. Instead, this is a list of activities in which you can lose yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • In what areas do friends always reach out to you for advice?
    For example, my friend Emily (@thegalabouttown) is a cocktail queen — so I always ask her where to find the hottest spots for craft cocktails, speakeasies, and burlesque.
  • What activities bring you satisfaction or happiness?
    Personally, I derive great satisfaction from writing/drawing a really beautiful letter to send to someone, knowing it will be a small, unexpected moment of joy for the recipient. So I would include creative writing, doodling, hostessing, communication, and “improving someone’s day” on my list of skills.
  • What makes you feel smart, creative, and engaged?
    My friend Dana, a professional opera singer and teacher, recently started a life coaching business after realizing that she was much more engaged helping aspiring musicians turn their extensive educations into full-time careers.
  • What secret ninja skills do you employ in your home life?
    One of our favorite recent success stories comes from Melissa, a stay-at-home mom who realized that her friends were always asking her to bake nifty creations for their kids’ birthdays. She turned her secret ninja baking skills into a flexible, home-based business — and her cake pops were an instant hit!
  • What do your colleagues/your boss rely on you (and only you) for?
    Are you the only person who can schedule a Skype+Phone+In-Person meeting with 16 people in 1 day? Do you know how to build and deliver presentations that capture everyone’s interest and attention? Add those skills to your list!

In other words, make sure your list includes the things you are good at in both your professional AND your personal lives.

List away! I’ll get you started with a few ideas:

Now, let’s take a look at your list. How many of the skills that you’ve listed — the things that bring you satisfaction, make you feel smart & creative, and come naturally to you — are you using in your day-to-day life?

If you’ve managed to create a life that allows you to use many of your “Good List” skills, BRAVO! However, if your real life and your list don’t have much overlap, it may be time to reevaluate. This could be the right moment to carve out more opportunties for creativity in your professional life. It could also be a Call to Action: it’s time to find a new job. You have to decide.

As you’re thinking about your next step, just remember that work/life balance is about much more than making time for both things. It’s about blending them in a way that allows you to participate fully in your WHOLE life. This is where joy starts. So go ahead — create your passionate life. I’ll be there every step of the way!