Work or Play

You know this is true: the fastest way to hate / get sick of / change your perception of a song: use it as your ringtone / hear it being used in an ad.

Let me now pose another platitude I’m sure you’ve heard before:

Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Or… you’ll end up getting sick of doing what used to bring you joy.

I have written before how “Do What You Love” is a virus which possibly has infected more people this century than any pandemic.

If you turned something you enjoy into something you do professionally, the activity will cease to be the same “play” as you will have different dynamics with it. The context and intent will be different.

I was quite worried when one of my direct reports shared that he was anxious he’ll render his programming skills rusty, given the limited amount of hands on development needed by the role. He’s a strong engineer and the role is a customer-facing engineering role that requires not only a solid technical foundation but also to put on business and sales mindset. I sensed a time bomb and felt responsible to find a solution where he feels he can draw more satisfaction from his work. Fortunately he later updated me that it occurred to him he could actually hack away in his spare time and it’s actually a sweet compromise where he’s getting paid to learn other transferrable skills.

This is only a good outcome because he was already an established engineer and is not hard-bound to want to focus on engineering roles in the future. I would have recommended otherwise if those weren’t true.

So I suppose it’s back to having that self awareness and maturity to decide how you would manage and define “work” and “play”.

Imagine and compare:

  • travelling for work vs travelling for staycation vs travelling for family events
  • reading to take and publish notes vs convergent reading (to seek answer) vs divergent reading (exploring, browsing for books, flipping through)

It’s going to take extra effort to not lose / preserve the joy and purity of the play and switch between these modes.

Know when you’re doing it to fulfill a responsibility and when you’re doing it to recharge.

Also published on Medium.

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