One rainy night, a couple of years ago, I stayed up late playing Pokemon. If you must know, I was grinding and gaining experience points, motivated by a streak of catches and an increasing multiplier. I knew better than that, because the video game was interrupting valuable sleep and sleep hygiene. Still, I felt like I was having too much fun. I didn’t want to stop.
So I didn’t. I played, and then finally, I got tired, and I slept. The final thought before I closed my eyes and my head hit the pillow was, “Wow, if only I felt that way about sales.”
On New Year’s Eve, in 2021, Austen Allred tweeted a similar idea. It was a screenshot from a business leader, that observed, “Most people (99.9% of everybody) never bother to consciously program what things the brain associates with pleasure and what with pain.”
One of the challenges of today is knowing how to work to make things fun for yourself. This is actually really difficult. Remember the last time someone tried making something fun?
Fun can’t be pursued directly. Much like creativity, or happiness, it can’t be forced, only allowed to happen. That doesn’t mean we have no idea how to make things fun. It can be cultivated and designed for. This much-cited interview with Josh Buckley provides some crucial starting points for that.
Fun draws people in, though, and it’s an advantage. There’s now a possibility that work can be fun—which is why many people are willing to take on more risk and a less total compensation to avoid non-fun work. Leaders and teams who can offer the best of both worlds will be the ones that survive in the future.
A final note: challenge and fun are interlinked. It is possible, indeed, for me to design my routine sales work to be fun. Shopify’s strategy is to make commerce and entrepreneurship fun. Commerce should be an activity that people want to do, rather than something they want to make more convenient or spend less time doing (which is Amazon’s strategy).
It’s similar to lining up for stuff. It’s a headache for most of us, but for some people who care about streetwear, it’s the whole point of going.
The saying goes, “The best routine is the one that works for you.” Find out what’s fun for you. For me, writing every day at my blog is fun, but tweeting was really a chore until I started just pasting it in from my blog. Then, that started feeling more natural. I also enjoy writing on paper, I don’t love using software, but I started doing both.
(If you’d wake up to do it early on a Saturday morning, or stay up late to do it on Saturday night, it’s fun.)
Once the fun cycle starts, and gets reinforced, then habits start developing. Discipline and force can help, as can incentives, but it’s wise to also harness the powerful intrinsic motivator of fun.
See part 1, part 2, and part 3. See also this is probably dumb.