Follow the fun
Too often we have a narrative that work should feel like work. That fun is something that happens outside of our job. But operating from this belief creates a reality where work is indeed not fun. What you think you create. The simplest way to describe the process of creating an energizing career you love is to follow the fun.
In this episode I discuss:
- How I define fun - it’s not at odds with impact or salary
- How to figure out WHAT feels fun
- How the current career landscape allows for so much more fun that ever before
- The difference between jobs that feel fun and jobs that we tell ourselves are ‘right’
- When to make a strategic move in your career
Are you ready to create an energizing career you love?
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Welcome to the career studio podcast, where we boil down the noise and focus on the core concepts, essential for building an energizing career you love. One that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life. Anyone can do it. It's just a matter of knowing what to focus on.
Hi. One of the biggest limiting beliefs I see in people I work with is that work shouldn't be fun. That it's normal to not really enjoy your work and to dread Mondays, and that work should just be work. And obviously, or maybe not so obviously, but when we operate from this belief, what we create is a career that feels like work.
Our thoughts create our results, right? If we believe that work should feel like work, then we feel resigned, and when we feel resigned, we just take a job, even though it doesn't feel good, which creates the result of us having a career that feels like work. It's this self-fulfilling prophecy. So I wanted to talk today about this belief and dispel it .Because what I see time and time again within myself and my clients is that career fulfillment comes from solving for fun.
By going towards excitement. By going towards what is interesting and warm and energizing. It comes from believing that creating an energizing career you love is possible. It comes from believing that work doesn't have to feel like work. Okay, so here's my experience.
The night before I started my job at a big creative ad agency in London. I could barely sleep. I was really so excited. I'd been dreaming about working in advertising since I was, I don't know, 10 because I'd been collecting these Absolute Vodka print ads. I had hundreds of them. And I had always had a dream, it seemed very sexy and very cool to me to work in advertising. And I spent five years at that agency having a lot of fun. It was a really good fit for me for a long time. And yeah, it was everything I wanted it to be for many years.
Equally, the week before I became a full-time entrepreneur, right, and started this business doing it full-time, I told everyone I met. And I was so excited to focus on my business full-time and to finally get to do a lot of the projects I'd had to put on the back burner because I was working a full-time job. And yeah, I was genuinely excited. I was excited. I was having fun. And I still do, you know, two years later into this full-time job I've created for myself. I genuinely look forward to the conversations I have with my clients. Well, sometimes I bitch about creating content. I genuinely find it interesting, often fun, often relatively easy.
I enjoy the challenge of working on my skills as a coach. I enjoy the challenge of learning new concepts that I can take to my clients. I have fun doing this job. But besides these two experiences in my career, I've had five other roles at five other companies. And of course those all taught me something about myself or the industry or my priorities, but none of them were fun.
Before starting all of them, I didn't feel excitement in my body. I wasn't like not sleeping with excitement. I wasn't telling everyone I met that I was about to start these roles. My anticipation running up to all of those gigs, they, it came from a much more rational place about how it would look on my resume, the type of experience I would get, how it was helping me do something else.
And so that meant that the jobs themselves, they often felt tedious or draining. I would procrastinate a lot more. I would feel way less energy at the end of the day. I was much more prone to bitching and gossip. I would get the Sunday scaries. And look, there's, there's nothing wrong with making a strategic move in your career, but ultimately we wanna solve for fun and a strategic move we wanna make intentionally knowing it's a strategic move that's gonna help us get closer to fun.
And let me just qualify here that fun doesn't mean easy. And fun doesn't mean less important to the world. Fun doesn't mean less impactful. It doesn't have to mean sacrificing priorities like salary. It doesn't have to mean less prestigious, right?
Imagine what if you believed you could have fun and have impact, and make the money you wanna make. That's what I'm doing. Because, fun actually gives you energy. It gives you energy to solve the inevitable challenges that you're gonna face professionally, right? If you enjoy the work, if you think it's interesting, if it lights you up, if it gives you energy, which I'm all kind of putting under this word fun, it's gonna make solving those challenges much more pleasurable.
Fun is what keeps you motivated to learn and to grow and to perfect your craft. And fun also allows you to turn off, right? It allows you to feel present in your personal life because you're doing something that is who you are, right? You're not feeling resentful towards work. You're not feeling drained from work.
If you're having fun at work because you just get to be yourself and you're thinking about things that genuinely interest you and you're having fun, you're gonna be able to be a lot more present in your personal life. You're gonna be able to have a lot more energy to give to the things outside of work.
Okay. And so this is basically the whole rationale behind the whole philosophy of my business, that it takes less energy to be yourself. Because you really wanna think about how much you procrastinate on the stuff that you don't enjoy doing, right? How much you dread it, how you have to like, psych yourself up to do it, right?
There's so much more energy required from you to complete things that you find inherently uninteresting. We don't have infinite reserves of energy. We have a finite store, so we wanna be very intentional about how we use that energy. And if you're wasting a lot of energy getting interested, In something or doing something that's not well suited to you, then you're gonna have less energy to deliver on that task than someone who's inherently interested in it.
So this means your standard is gonna be lower than things that you find interesting and fun. It's almost like we're doing a disservice to our communities, our society, our planet, by not doing the things that we find compelling and fun, you know, fun. Again, it doesn't mean frivolous, but also, you know, if you wanna do something frivolous, great. Doesn't matter.
You know that like everyone is unique and will have their own definition of fun, and that's what makes it an interesting planet to live on. My point is simply that you're gonna have way more energy to do the stuff that lights you up than the stuff that doesn't. And when you have more energy, it means you're going to create more value than you would with less energy.
And I think what's important to consider is that the rules for creating and building your career are so much different than they were even 10, 15 years ago. You know, most of my clients are millennials, elder millennials, and you know, we grew up in a society and with parents where it was kind of one and done, right?
You chose your career path and you executed against that path for the duration of your professional life, and, and there was a limited amount of options in terms of what you could pick to do professionally. There were categories and you had to pick what category do I fit into? But because of the explosion of the internet, everything has changed, right?
Obviously, this sounds trite saying it, but like it's worth spelling it out in detail. So let's think about it, right? Because of the internet, there's so many new categories of companies, new categories of roles that support even more blends of your strengths and your interests and your priorities. This is because, you know the internet, you can reach niche audiences to support so many kinds of businesses, right?
You can have a multimillion dollar business teaching poetry online. If you don't believe me, you should check out this guy David White, who has a very successful poetry business, and I, I bring him up because poetry is historically a career where you make no money as a poet. This guy is making many millions of dollars teaching poetry and building community around poetry online.
Okay. Or think about, you know, wildly successful social channels around niche topics like beekeeping or, you know, sailing around the globe and documenting your family's experience doing that are makeup tutorials. This is my point. There's just so many more options about what you can do and even the types of roles that are available for you to do.
And then furthermore, because of the pandemic, remote work is now available in a much broader way. So this opens you up to companies not in your city or even country. So, with these components, you know, for the first time in really human history, it's genuinely possible to create a tailor-made career. One that satisfies your idea of what's interesting, meaningful, and rewarding and fun, obviously, right?
One that supports your personal priorities. And look, obviously nothing is a hundred percent. There's always going to be some sacrifices. I am not talking about perfection. I'm just reminding us that the possibility of what you can do professionally is so much greater than it was a decade ago. And with that, we really have the opportunity to do stuff that we genuinely enjoy and meets our lifestyle priorities, right?
Remember, this isn't we're, I'm not talking about fun as a sacrifice to income. I think often this is what people believe, right? If I wanna make money, I can't have fun. That, you know, work to make money has to be drudgery, has to not feel that interesting. Okay, so conceptually, this is the point. So how do you actually do it?
Like what does it actually mean to follow the fun? Because it's more than just what I'm talking about in terms of the concept. There's actually a lot of somatic. I mean body, by somatic I mean body physical experience that's required for us to tap into and pay attention to, to follow the fun. It's subtle actually, and it's a, a big part of the work I do with my clients.
A lot of my clients have lost connection to their gut. They've lost connection to their body and their feelings, which means they don't know what a yes feels like in their body and what a no feels like in their body. And what's really important is that we know what feels energizing. To follow the fun we have to notice what ideas that we have, what opportunities feel warm, feel exciting, feel interesting. And which don't.
We have to be able to distinguish between the things that pull us and feel energizing and warm and exciting and fun, and the things that don't. That kind of feel cold and heavy and crunchy and difficult and yeah, heavy. That's how I experience it, is often a heaviness. We wanna go towards the things where we feel our pull.
We wanna go towards the things that keep knocking on our brain, that keep coming back to us. It's a very physical sensation to follow, and it's important to understand the, the physical signal in the body because the brain, while an amazing tool, obviously, it's amazing at rationalizing, right? It can talk you into and out of anything and it's, it's gonna be really good at rationalizing why something that doesn't feel warm and energizing is right, right?
It's your brain's gonna tell you, well, it's gonna give me this experience, it's gonna look good on my cv. You know, this is what successful people do. This is what the right career path is supposed to look like. So when you're kind of talking yourself into it in that way, it means you're making your decision mostly from your head instead of paying attention to your body.
Because you will not be able to deny what feels energizing when you know what it feels like. It will be obvious. And you know, the little challenge is, is that sometimes we have to explore a lot of things until we feel the excitement and the energy. We don't actually know what's gonna hit the feeling, but when we feel it, we know.
This is often, you know, what I help my clients with is kind of holding their hand and a holding them through the, the discomfort and the ambiguity of exploring a lot of things that feel tentatively interesting, but they haven't gotten that sensation of this feel makes me come alive. Right? This really is energizing.
So to go back for a second to my point around your brain talking you into things, right? Saying, this is gonna look good on my resume, right? This is, I'm gonna get good experience. There's nothing wrong with that, right? There's nothing wrong with making a strategic move. And sometimes those are important, right?
Strategic moves, I think I said this at the beginning. They're very important if they're gonna help you get to a more aligned place, if they're a stepping stone towards something that feels fun. So, for example, for me, when I was transitioning into coaching out of tech, I took a role at a company called the Fast Forward Group, which is a really incredible training and coaching company that works with Fortune 500 companies. So if you work at a big company and you want some training for your team, I really recommend them.
And I had an opportunity, I didn't know, how do I wanna explain this? I didn't know that. I knew I wanted to be a coach. I knew coaching felt good, but I didn't know in what capacity I wanted to be a coach. And Fast Forward was an environment where I got to explore that, and I took a role there that was a step down. It was about 50% pay from what I was making. The role was kind of much more junior, as I said, and also very operations heavy, which I can do, but I don't find super energizing. But it was the industry I wanted to be in, and it was gonna afford me to explore that industry.
Plus it was run by two very accomplished and well regarded women that I could learn from. So, You know, it was a strategic move. I wasn't like, oh my God, I'm so excited about this role. It's perfect. It's a full body. Yes, I knew it wouldn't be my forever home, but I was, I was excited about it, but it was a much more rational decision.
So this is an example of a strategic move that got me closer to the really aligned place that I am now. And so this is my caveat. When strategic moves make sense, when kind of rational moves that don't have that full body light up are still really good because they're in service of you getting closer or learning more about the thing that you think, the thing that feels good.
But besides the fast forward example, all the other jobs I've taken. Because I needed a job or because I thought it would look good, or I just rushed to find something. Honestly, there were jobs I didn't really enjoy. You know, they had jobs that felt only okay, where I got bored or I was desperately unhappy, and that I knew fairly soon, right? Within weeks or months of joining that, like I wouldn't stay long, and what all of those jobs had in common is I was not excited before I started them. I was not super excited to start. I wasn't like, this will be so fun. So this is why I really want us to celebrate fun. I want us to put it up on a pedestal.
Let's use it as a barometer towards an aligned, energized path. So ask yourself now in your career, are you having fun? And if the answer is no, ask yourself. What else am I curious about? What ideas keep nudging at my brain. These are the things that you should explore, create space in your life to explore these in an intentional way until you feel again, something energizing.
Just keep following the energy inside you that feels excited. Follow the fun. This is how you create an energizing career that you love. Have a great week.
Hey, if you're ready to create an energizing career you love, one that is simply an extension of who you are and how you want to live your life. Then I wanna invite you to schedule a consultation. We'll get to the bottom of what's going on for you. And exactly where you need to focus to bring your career and life into alignment. It's free. Just head on over to thecareer.studio/schedule to find a time that works for you, or if you're enjoying and getting value from these episodes, I'd love you to leave a short review on whatever podcast app you use.
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