Have you ever chosen a word for the new year? This exercise aims to identify one word that represents your focus for the next 12 months and intentionally guides your thinking and behavior. Additionally, it informs your choices, ensuring that you create a year with that quality or characteristic.
This year, my word is “play.”
Children play naturally. Adults often need to relearn that skill, and I know I need to do so.
However, approaching life as if it’s your playpen has many benefits. It can improve your health, finances, career, and relationships, not to mention your level of happiness.
But if it’s hard for me to play, others might also find it challenging. So, I’d like to share what I’ve learned, what’s working for me, and how I plan to use this focus word in the new year. I hope you will find the information helpful, so you can have a more playful and fun-filled year, too.
Focus on Play
You might wonder why I chose the word “play” for this year. Indeed, usually, I pick a word like committed, authentic, productive, or self-integral. Let me explain.
Recently, I had a session with a spiritual guide. I wanted to know how to make my business, marriage, health, and writing career more successful.
She said, “Nina, focus on play—especially in your business. But start by playing daily in your regular life.”
She also gave me homework: Each morning, I must decide in what ways I can play that day. Then, before sleep, I account for how I played.
At 62, I’m still trying to figure out what play looks or feels like. And my daily choices and accounting are a bit limited.
But I’ve had a significant insight: almost anything can feel like play if I have a playful mindset.
Relearning How to Play
I would not call myself “playful.” In fact, my mother told me I was an unhappy and serious little girl. That doesn’t surprise me since my father died when I was only seven. That single event hugely impacted me and my life.
However, I did play back then—even after my father’s death. I recall turning the little boat house on our property into a make-believe home. I spent hours there with my dolls. I played Barbies and spent time with friends playing all sorts of imaginary games. And, of course, I read, colored, rode my bike, and enjoyed other toys, too.
I also spent many hours per week playing with horses—riding, grooming, and feeding them carrots. (Eventually, that became serious when I began competing at a high level.) And I built barns, sewed blankets, and made tiny brushes for my large set of toy horses as well.
Yet, I have to admit I turned into a serious adult. Yes, I can joke and be silly, but that’s not my modus operandi. And I sometimes turned play into work, like when I decided to have a horse-related business. Additionally, in recent years writing has felt more like work and less like play.
Therefore, as you can imagine, my new assignment has been a bit difficult thus far. I am in the process of relearning how to play.
Develop a Playful Mindset
First and foremost, I have had to change my mindset about play. I had to see play as more than something I find fun. When I perceive play as doing something novel, exciting, or creative, more opportunities open up to be playful.
For example, I now see coaching as playful. It’s not necessary to be so serious; I can kid with clients as a way to challenge and help them gain new insights. And laughter is healing.
And I realized that taking action on creative inspiration makes writing play. As long as I continue to see writing as “work,” it feels hard and far from fun. But writing becomes play when I’m inspired to create something—like a blog post or book—and I allow myself to follow my inspiration.
If I can change my mindset from “I have to” write or coach—or clean the house, walk the dog, cook dinner, or whatever—to “I get to” or “It will be fun to,” I approach the task with a positive and playful attitude. Then these tasks become play.
When what I do personally or professionally becomes a toy in my playpen, I experience it differently. And that results in me having more fun.
Rediscover Your Passions and Interests
I also put my passions and interests in my playpen. This gave me a few more toys to play with.
For instance, I’ve been an equestrian since I was seven. (I have only had two periods when I haven’t ridden.) I moved to Placitas, NM, because it is home to wild mustangs. Visiting them is a way for me to play. And I plan to begin riding again this year.
In fact, I have a date to accompany a new friend to her stable this month, and I’m searching for opportunities to ride. I see this as a playful hobby to take back up.
I also love reading, and I’m passionate, as you know, about personal and spiritual growth. I plan to spend much more time on these pursuits in the new year. That might not sound like play to you, but it does to me!
And I’m going to play with new like-minded friends. Play can mean going to a crystal shop, attending a Native American dance event, or creating fun rituals together. In fact, three friends and I have started a group to “create magic” monthly by observing the new and full moon.
And I brought together friends for a New Year’s Eve gathering filled with rituals and drumming. I love rituals…and approached this as play…without the seriousness of needing to make it perfect or right or whatever.
I might even start coloring to return to more childlike play. Or perhaps I’ll buy some puzzles to do with my husband.
Both my spiritual guide and a new coach I hired suggested I daily play a game I call “What If?” This is not “What if…something bad or negative happens?” Instead, it’s “What if…something good, positive, or miraculous happens?”
I’ve been playing the What If? game as a way to push myself to trust my intuition or inner guidance system. For instance, suppose I feel drowsy and the thought of taking a nap pops into my head. I ask myself, “What if I nap instead of answering emails? What wonderful thing might happen?” Or if I feel inclined to stop offering a business service I offer, I ask, “What if I let that part of my business go? What door might open to me as a result?”
No more focusing on potential unwanted outcomes! Instead, I put my attention on potential positive ones. And then, I watch what positive things show up in response to my positive focus. This is much more fun than watching for my worst fears to be realized.
Play with Energy
Last, I have made playing an energetic game. After all, play has a totally different energy than work or even something you “must” or “should do,” right?
Raising your vibratory level is how you create more of what you want—like the things I told the spiritual guide I desired. With this in mind, I’ve gamified my attempts to keep my vibration high.
“How high can I vibrate today?” I ask myself. “What can I do to raise my vibration?”
The more often I play, have fun, get excited, feel passionate, or engage in activities that jazz me, the higher my vibration. And the more likely it becomes that I will create my desires.
Not only is this a game in and of itself, but the line of questioning motivates me to find ways to play. If I’m feeling depressed, for example, I look for a way to play—maybe read a novel, go for a bike ride (for fun, not exercise), or play catch with my puppy.
If I approach creating my desires as part of this game, that becomes fun, too. “What did I create today…last week…this month?” Once I acknowledge those creations, I can tie them back to my energetic level…and how much I’ve played.
Many Ways to Play
Of course, there are many ways to play. I also love walking in nature, watching a great movie, and eating at new restaurants. I adore playing with my puppy, too—and she makes me laugh every day.
You might enjoy skiing, motorcycle riding, painting, or making jewelry. Or you may like to dance to your favorite music or having friends over for a game night or darts. Everyone has their own brand of play. Know what your is so you can play more often.
I’m still exploring what play is for me and relearning the fine art of playfulness. I know it will make a massive difference in my life this year. And I will keep my word for the year—play—at the forefront of my mind, so I remember to play daily.
Do you know how to play? What feels playful to you? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
If you want to increase your ability to create desired results—like a year of play, let’s chat. Get on my calendar here. Or join the Inspired Creator Community for group personal and spiritual growth coaching every month.