It’s 7 am and it’s time for me to get out of the pool, I’ve been swimming intensely for an hour, but before I go, I dive, twirl and spin my way down the lane and back, looking like a playful sea otter. I’m remembering that I love to swim.
Rewind to a day during high school when my summer swim coach walked out on the deck one day and told my teammates and I, “Just play, no workout today.” We stood there stunned, not knowing what to do. Eventually, we made up our own workout and did that, much to the chagrin of the coach.
I started competitive swimming at age four and continued for 13 years. My teammates were the same. A day without one swim workout, and often two, was a rarity for us. The games we did play in the pool weren’t really fun, they thinly-masked swimming drills, getting the rings from the bottom of the pool increased breath control, water polo increased explosive speed, etc.
What that day with the coach showed me is that we’d not only lost the ability to have fun in the pool, we’d forgotten why we’d wanted to swim in the first place. After that, I vowed not to forget again. And so I end each swim session with a moment of play, to keep me loving what I do, which in turn helps motivate me to do it well.
I believe work is the same. We need to remember why we got into the work we do in the first place (maybe not a particular job, but a field or subject area) and make a point to remind ourselves often why we love our work.