Can Your Life Work Actually be Your Play?

I often think about my late stepfather Joe and how for years he prodded and encouraged me to pursue my community building work under my own umbrella.

While I’m not sure exactly why, I resisted the idea of being self-employed for a long time. And yet, life seems to come at us with plans of its own.

So here I am owner of my own company and an emerging tech start up. What is most amazing is that after all these years I finally seem to have landed where I’m supposed to be, doing what clearly is my life’s work.

When I tried to explain to a friend this sense that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, she asked me a seemingly simple question.

How exactly does one find their life’s work?

While I’m not sure I have a definitive answer, I think there were a number of factors at play in my being able to find mine.

I think in part it comes from getting to a place where one can be calm and at peace with oneself.

Too often it seems when I was unhappy with my work I tried to force or conjure up the ideal future. Unfortunately, the idea of imagining what you want doesn’t seem to work when it’s rooted in anxiety. Instead, tranquility seems to be essential as the path and the solutions only seem to manifest themselves when I’ve unclenched and stood still.

It seems I’ve also had to relearn the importance of play. Ironic, since my roots are planted in the profession of recreation. But, the truth is that despite being proud of the fact that I have a strong work ethic, I’ve learned most, and had the greatest success, when I’ve had fun doing the things I love.

I was reminded of that last week as I was delivering a workshop about community leadership. A young woman who was participating was asked to introduce me. As she read from my bio, her nerves seemed to get the better of her. Rather than noting I had won an award as a YWCA “Woman of Distinction”, she referred to me as a “Woman of Dysfunction”.

The resulting laughter from everyone, including the young woman who had the grace to laugh at her own faux pas, set the tone for a fun, interactive, training session that appeared to result in deep learning for everyone.

At the risk of sounding trite, it also seems that when you’ve found your life’s work, somehow you just seem to know. It just feels right—in your heart, your mind, and your soul. It isn’t anything you have to analyze, but rather something that feels so comfortable you can’t imagine doing anything else. 

When you land, it’s easy to stay focused and committed because you just can’t imagine doing anything else.

Even more important, it just doesn’t seem like work. The line between work and play seems to get a bit blurred.

Additionally, because it’s right and the work is aligned with your core values, the doors seem to open and you willingly work hard every day to move your vision forward—even when the work is challenging and you have to make sacrifices.

And, even though you’re working hard, somehow you’re also motivated to live more fully, finding greater balance, more attention to fitness, friendships, and play.

It’s also surprising to find that when you’re doing your life’s work, people often notice and comment on how happy and healthy you look.

Each day is an adventure, you fall into bed depleted but content, and ready to do it all again the next day.

Maybe that’s when you’ll know you’ve found your life’s work—when you aren’t sure what to call what you’re doing. Is it work or is it play?

Posted on 11-11-12


Writers today don’t seem to care about writing their own original content. You seem to have a lot of talent and your own original ideas. All the way this post is really excellent.

•Posted by JKT48  on  09/16/14  at  09:31 PM

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