Seriously, Play!

Catharine Pitt
Mark Davis

You don't need to be serious to tackle serious issues!

In fact many of us start out with a strong play ethic, where work is fuelled by curiosity and experimentation. But it's often overshadowed by pressures as we progress through our careers. If you can retain play in your daily practice and playfulness in your approach, it can become one of your most valuable and long-serving creative tools. Here's why:

1. Be focused, not fearful.

Play keeps you focused on the process, not on creating a perfect outcome. It encourages you to explore new directions, without worrying about judgement from others.

2. Stop dreaming of Friday. Start loving Monday.

A creative practice without play is not sustainable. Make it a part of how you live and you’ll be more productive, happier, and create better work.

3. Play to learn.

Stay curious. Try new techniques. Be an early-adopter to new developments. Powering your mind with fresh knowledge feeds your growth throughout all stages of your career.

4. Keep going

Most people give up too soon. Don’t be like most people. Build momentum on the big tasks, by staying playful and following through on the small tasks.

5. Choose optimism

Cultivate a positive outlook. It will help lower the volume on negative voices.

“The more you play, the more you get to be playful. Even more sure, the more you get to be playful the more likely it is you’ll respond playfully to just about anything.”

Bernard De Koven, Game Designer

6. Build resilience

There will always be obstacles, but when you view challenges through a playful lens, they don’t feel so overwhelming.

7. Find the funny

Reframing situations to find the humour helps in all sorts of tricky situations.

8. Stay Curious

Don’t stay in your lane. Don’t repeat the same patterns. Seek out different.

9. Celebrate small wins 

Take a moment to reflect when a playful attitude or approach has made an impact on the creative process.

10. WORK TIME IS Play time

Oftentimes ‘Aha!’ moments start with some form of play. It's how you free your subconscious mind, allowing it to process problems, connect thoughts and tune into ideas that excite you. It’s the catalyst for creativity.

"Playfulness unlocks your creativity, helps you learn faster, and makes your brain more receptive to new ideas."

– B.J.Fogg, Tiny Habits

11. Unlearn being the expert

Open your mind. Let go of assumptions and bring a beginner’s mindset to creative challenges. It often opens new pathways never before explored.

12. Seek out constraints

We live with an abundance of possibilities, it can be overwhelming. Restrict your tools. Limit the options. Force a new way
of thinking.

"Constraints are inspiring. They give us something to push against, something to resist."

- David Byrne, musician


Allow your mind to wander. To conjure new possibilities or escape undesired realities.Let your imagination fuel your actions.

14. Build Empathy

Play lets us explore different perspectives and emotions. We develop a deeper understanding of each other and make stronger human connections.

15. If it sucks, GAMIFY it.

To get things done, get playful. It’s the motivation to tackle the aspects of life you might otherwise struggle to make progress on.

16. Teams THAT PLAY, WIN

A playful approach can transform the way you work as a group. It reduces conflict, fosters an open environment and makes communications more authentic.

17. Don’t settle for easy

When you cultivate a sense of playfulness and possibility in your life, you embrace the unknown and stretch yourself to reach more challenging goals.

18. Choose youth mode

Play and playfulness stimulates your mind, triggers dopamine and improves neural connections. It slows the ageing of our brains and keeps our minds in youth mode.

“Being in youth mode isn't about perpetually re-living yourself at a younger age, it's about being youthfully present at any given age.”

‘Youth Mode - A Report On Freedom’ by khole

19. Boost your confidence

Play drives us to try new things, even when we feel vulnerable. It’s about embracing the unknown and trusting our instincts. With each risk we take, we build confidence and prove to ourselves that we can handle any challenge. 

20. Fail Faster

Expect failures, but don’t let them stop you in your tracks. Take the lessons learned to spur you on, to improve, to iterate and to take you to the next level.

21. Don't be a stranger to change

Change is the lifeblood of creativity and at the heart of play. It brings possibility, energy and excitement. Don't fear it, welcome it.

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."

Alan Watts