Why the virtuous path doesn’t work for me – or, using play to accomplish your goals

Posted on January 7, 2010


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I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints . . . The sinners are much more fun.  – Billy Joel

I’m a 40-something wife, mother of 3 and occasional Very Serious Professional, and I’m still rebelling against the ‘should do’s.  I don’t want to be told I should do something, even if I’m the one telling myself I should do it.  I don’t want to be Good, Virtuous, and Responsible.  That’s for old people.  Or boring people.

Not very grown up, I admit.  Not sure where this attitude problem comes from.  All I know is that as soon as I start thinking, “I should . . . ” my little rebellious brain starts thinking of excuses for why I don’t have to, seeking out loopholes that absolve me from the suddenly onerous ‘should’.  As a result, goals that are cast as ‘should’s don’t get done.  This means that, if I want to achieve outrageous goals, I have to trick my little inner rebel into thinking my goals are actually Play.

Is this a woman thing?  Is it because I have to be Responsible in so many aspects of my life that Responsibility seems like such a drag?  Or am I just particularly juvenile?

In any case, I’ve decided to approach my goals in a less virtuous and ‘success-oriented’ manner and, instead, frame them (at least in my mind) in a way that will entice my inner Peter Pan.  This means I will cast  my goals as play, winning a game, pretending.  Thus:

  • I should take my writing Seriously becomes => I will play the role of the Great American Writer, complete with costume (beret!), props (great pens! cool journals!), attitude (confident, mysterious, sexy), and output (crazy, fun, silly, amazing pieces)
  • I should get a Job becomes => I am going to have a blast connecting with fascinating people who love what they do and brainstorming ideas to connect with other people who do what I love to do.  The  more, the merrier.
  • I should lose weight becomes => I will get outside in the sun and run and play with my crazy dog.  I will only eat food that delights my tongue.  I will savor cooking, preparing and eating beautiful meals.  And – I’m gonna dance and learn to hula hoop!  [thanks to Kelly Diels at Cleavage for the link!]

How about you?  Do you ever have trouble accomplishing your goals?  Does re-casting your Serious Goals as Play help?  Would love to know your experience.

Update: Here is proof that it works (it’s on the internet, so it must be true): How do you get people to use the stairs, rather than the escalator?  Make the stairs more fun!

Thanks to Thefuntheory.com (and the folks at Volkswagon) for the video – and for a fun site.  Check it out!

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