WHAT DO STEVE JOBS, BOB DYLAN, AND PLATO ALL HAVE IN COMMON? APART FROM BEING SOME OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN HISTORY, ALL OF THEM THOUGHT OF WORK AS A GAME.
Within a matter of months, I quit two amazing jobs.
The first was director of special projects for Tim Ferriss, the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. Secondly, I was the co-founder of a profitable tech startup.
Both gigs had highly desirable qualities: I got to work on exciting projects, collaborate with talented people, and I was making good money. For a 25-year-old, I was living the dream.
But then I quit.
Whenever I had to explain why I’d left, I felt spoiled and embarrassed. I had no desire to do the work–I wasn’t interested in what I was doing anymore–and I’d burned myself out.
And yet, I still felt obligated to live up to people’s expectations. Everyone asked me what I was going to do next. And I’d panic inside because it felt like I was losing. There was this voice in my head that kept telling me how far I’d come, and now I was blowing it. I’d let everyone down. I needed to become a successful CEO or a millionaire in order for the world to accept that I was okay again.
This pressure I felt to make it was such a burden–until I realized that no level of success was ever going to be enough. I would always be chasing the world outside of me. What was the point of working so hard if it wasn’t for my own happiness? The solution became very clear: stop doing work that doesn’t matter to you.
You might roll your eyes at this. “I can’t quit my job! I have a family and bills to pay!” I understand. I didn’t quit everything I didn’t want to work on right away. I just started making a conscious effort to work on projects I actually cared about.
Rather than viewing work as a stressful obligation, or a means of getting rich, my work was a game I chose to play.
I wanted my work to be a game I would willingly play. I thought back on the activities I repeatedly played throughout my life because they were fun and I was good at them:
- Creating my own art
- Making people laugh
- Developing skills
- Building with my hands
I started setting aside 20 minutes each day to play one of my games. I’d come up with a fun project that allowed me to do work I cared about …….. continue reading