When was the last time you had fun at work? I do not mean going to the ballgame with your office buddies or having a good laugh at your boss’s misfortune at the holiday party. I am also not talking about a company’s attempts to institute a “culture of fun,” complete with happy hour and foosball.
Those activities may prove to be entertaining, but they are not fulfilling.
I am referring to a kind of fun that offers more permanence than a temporary respite from work.
Do you know that feeling you get when you can finally shut out all the noise and focus all your energy toward solving a hard problem? Or you start on a project, and suddenly two hours have gone by without even realizing it? You get lost in the work, and it feels good. It may not happen often, and when it does, you want to savor it.
That’s what successful people do. They have more real fun.
Think about the moments when you are fully engaged and in the zone. They give you a real sense of accomplishment — and they make you want to repeat the experience. They motivate you to do it again.
This is the kind of fun I am talking about because intrinsic motivation is based on enjoyment or the perception of future enjoyment.
When you are intrinsically motivated, you are engaged in work that matters to you. You will continue to work hard if you like how the results of your efforts make you feel. The same is true even when there is a gap between your work and the enjoyable outcomes. This is why people will toil and sacrifice for a benefit that they perceive will be theirs in the future.
At Aha! we have a team of people who understand that working hard is fun and is often its own reward. I look forward to the time every month when we share our corporate results because it is exhilarating to watch our shared success unfold before our eyes. The joy is multiplied by the team, and it is great being a witness to that.
Have you ever considered that success is tied to fun? It is a bit strange, but I believe it to be true. When you find a way to have more fun by accomplishing what matters most to you — you get more done. And then you repeat those steps over and over.
If you are curious and interested in giving this a try, here is how to start having more fun right now:
Squint at the future
Yes, the future is a great unknown, but often you have just enough information on hand that you can catch a glimpse of what is ahead. Squint at where you are going, and the general direction you need to take. And think deeply about how you will feel when you get there. The future is waiting for you, even if it seems a bit blurry at the moment.
Achieve every day
Everyone knows that they should set goals for themselves. But make a point to accomplish at least one meaningful task every day — for your own sake. Doing good work will make you feel good about yourself — and not even the nastiest boss can take that away from you.
To continue having fun and achieving lasting joy, you must keep learning. But this learning does not have to be painful. When you choose to continually invest in knowledge, you start a chain reaction: You learn more about yourself and the challenges you face, which builds your confidence. These confident actions, then, yield results that prove to be enjoyable and successful.
Tell your story
Share your plans with those you care most about, and explain why they are important to you. Describe your pending joy and what you need to do to live it. Sharing your story makes you accountable to you and to those you tell. You might find they will help you get there — because they want to be the wingman to your gain.
We all want to find sustainable happiness, and we all want to enjoy what we do. So, the more we give our goals and actions life and pursue them with vigor, the more likely we will achieve them and get into the fun loop which is a wonderful place to be.
That is because fun is a journey and a destination. It is where successful people visit and are always trying to reside.
Once you feel deep enjoyment you will keep working to get back to it. Successful people know that when it is authentic, it must be cherished.
How do you equate fun with success?