Work that feels like play

Mr Cake

The Guardian ran a great story recently about a man who handed in his resignation by cake!

It was a passion cake (had to be) and this is the message he piped on top:

“Today is my 31st birthday, and having recently become a father I now realise how precious life is and how important it is to spend my time doing something that makes me, and other people, happy. For that reason I hereby give notice of my resignation, in order that I may devote my time and energy to my family and to my cake business which has grown steadily over the past two years.”

I love it. What a great way to hand your notice in! (He’s called Mr Cake if you fancy learning more.)

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Cake – work should make you happy.

Why toil for 8+ hours a day doing something you don’t like (or worse, actively hate)? It seems like such a waste of a life.

Admittedly, some people neither love nor hate work. They’re neutral about it. They get up, go to work, come home, and get on with life. Not for them the soul-searching, agonising hunt for their ‘calling’.

I envy them. But I can’t be like them. It’s just not in my DNA.

If this sounds familiar, take heart; there are lots of us out there.

Derek Sivers treats work like play. He is an entrepreneur who sold his business CD Baby and could have taken early retirement. Instead he opted to start several new companies. Why? “I realized why I need to start a new company. Not for the money. Not because I’m “bored”. But because a company is a laboratory to try your ideas. (The word “laboratory” is defined as a room for research, experimentation or analysis. I think of it as a sandbox or playpen.)” Read his Why you need your own company post here.

OK, Derek is somewhat unusual in that he sold his company for millions. What about the rest of us ordinary mortals?

‘Bally Bin’ commented on my blog recently (“If the ‘work’ I’m doing feels like play, then I know I’ve nailed it!“) and wrote a great post on this topic Men at Work“Unfortunately, there are many folks around who will tell you it’s an unrealistic goal to make all work ‘playtime’. There are enough of them, that you may one day start to doubt what it is you think you know – don’t be tempted!” 

By ignoring the naysayers, Bally Bin does a myriad of fun things for a living including “chauffeuring the elderly, building websites for small businesses, computer tutoring, and writing website content and articles”.

Of course, there’s always the question of MONEY…

All my life I have been searching for a way to earn money that feels like play (except when I was a kid obviously; then I was just happy to play with my tortoise, Albert, and guinea pig, Podge).

Now, at the age of 43, I’ve finally found it. Yipeee!

But how the heck do I make a full-time living from writing a blog, illustrating postcards, and writing children’s books (especially when the chances of getting published are about one in twenty squillion)?

The answer is, I don’t. At least, not straight away.

‘Do what you love and the money will follow’ is probably true, but the money might take a while to materialise, in which case, unless you’re being supported by someone, you need to do something else to earn a living in the meantime (preferably something which doesn’t drain you – so you have energy left over to do your thing).

So my mission this year is to find enjoyable paid work (as a copywriter/Digital Communications Officer) whilst I construct my future playground (children’s books, illustrations, and this blog).

The ultimate goal is to be paid to play full time.

Sounds pie-in-the-sky? I think it’s the sensible option, long term. Here’s why:

“I never went into business to make money – but I have found that, if I have fun, the money will come.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer

“It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.”
Paul Graham (author and venture capitalist)

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
Seth Godin (entrepreneur and bestselling author)

Looked at this way, work that feels like play isn’t just a nice thing to aspire to, it makes total financial sense!

5 thoughts on “Work that feels like play”

  1. A number of people I know say although they love their hobbies and love being creative they don’t however want to give up work and earn money through their hobbies. It would be turning something they love into work. I think one of the points raised in the Post is that people can have a negative attitude towards paid work however I believe negative attitude can be turned onto other areas of life if perceived as like ‘work’ – I think Bally Bin has the right idea.


    1. That’s a good point. I think work should be inherently enjoyable and fun but you’re right, not everyone wants to turn their hobbies into employment. I know someone who used to love doing up bikes but when he tried to turn it into a business it lost all its fun, so he does it as a hobby now and runs a business doing something else. Thanks for this, it’s an important point – I’ll follow this up in another post.


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