Make play work for you

Some of my most inspiring coaching sessions have been with avid gamers. Gamers who have been looking to explore coaching as they are stuck on how to prioritise themselves and wanting to get things done. 


However, they demonstrate great passion and determination to start something, commit and progress when it comes to video games. Upon asking more questions it seems that when it comes to these looming tasks, they are trying to get to what we might call, the ‘last level’ of their goals without having built up any ‘level experience’ beforehand. There is no way they would normally expect this of themselves in a video game so why should it be any different for goals in real life?

From here we can work out what steps to take next. With one client, we were able to break down his challenges into levels like in a game. This meant we could then apply his enjoyment of playful storytelling to his mental blocks. Within three weeks he had achieved what he had thought impossible, all whilst having fun. Tapping into his appreciation of play had opened up how he approached his daily tasks and meant they got done. Amazing!

Play is in how we connect with the world around us, it is in how we show up for ourselves and it is in how we learn

We do not have to be gamers for this to work for us. We all engage in play for many reasons, some of the most popular being: socialising, fun, escapism, winning and challenge. Yet somehow, we do not always connect to the benefits of play once we hit adulthood.

As Stuart Brown discusses in his book Play, "In a broad sense, play is what lifts people out of the mundane. I sometimes compare play to oxygen - it’s all around us yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing." So why would we omit it when we need it the most?

Have a think about play and this list of reasons. What is it that you get from play? Can you pick one of these five reasons you relate to the most?


If it is the joy of connecting with other people that you derive from play, find ways you can creatively connect with others doing the same thing. There might be an online group, a colleague, a friend, a neighbour, or a member of another online community that wants to work with you too. How can you create social accountability for yourself in a fun way?


How can you make the everyday mundane more fun? If you are struggling to complete a task, can you find a way to make it playful? Maybe it is not about the work but how you are when you are doing it – maybe you are dressed in something different, putting on an accent or moving to your favourite music.

Three people with laptops at table


I love games for how they bring you straight to the present; if you are playing, you are focused on the game and the game only. Who else could you be for the day that would help you get this done and how can you become that character?

Alternatively, maybe play helps you escape and take a break, in which case, how are you breaking up your day? Is your procrastination serving you properly and could you use your breaks more wisely to enjoy them more?


People who like winning can get a buzz from play because there is feedback on how well they have done. Have a look at your project, is it set up for your winning mentality? Will you know when you have hit a win? When you complete something, what is your reward?


There’s growth in challenge and an overall sense of achievement. Perhaps you are completing a task you always do. How can you set it up in such a way that means you’ve learned something new? Can you try it in a new language, through omitting a certain word or action or maybe you’re leaving the decisions to the roll of a dice? Get creative and see what you can achieve!

However you decide to incorporate play into your day, have a think about how it works for you. Play does not have to be something left to children or a long, drawn-out game of Scrabble.

Play is in how we connect with the world around us, it is in how we show up for ourselves and it is in how we learn. So, what are you waiting for? How are you going to get play to work for you today?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
London, SE16
Written by Nicola Twiston Davies, Work With Your Difference - Create Your Game Plan
London, SE16

Nicola is a transformational life coach focusing on those who feel bogged down in 'direction and purpose' or the expectations of those around them. Nicola works with you in a fun way to establish your expectations of you: giving you clarity and focus on how you want to confidently show up for yourself.

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Personal development

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals