Ep. #107: Prioritizing Play with Kaitlyn Lyons

Kaitlyn Lyons is the owner of Delightful Movement Coaching, and she helps work-accomplished women attend to the non-work areas of their lives. If you’ve needed some extra joy in your life, this is for you! Kaitlyn helps women create more fun, enjoyment, and wellbeing…things that we sometimes lose in our daily lives. Prioritizing play is a powerful way to get back in touch with the things that truly matter.

Powered By Play

As an executive wellbeing coach, Kaitlyn helps work-focused women figure out what lights them up. This leads to greater enjoyment of life! Kaitlyn’s 6 week group coaching program, Powered By Play, is a chance to get re-energized and bring FUN back into your life!

3 years ago, she was sitting in a cubicle as a project manager. Her job was highly visible, and she was working crazy hours to keep up with all of the challenges. Eventually, she burned out. She was waking up filled with dread, and going through the motions.

Instead of being the zesty, joyful person she remembered herself being….she just felt tired. At rock bottom, play seemed like an enemy. Kaitlyn had built a successful career of working hard and depriving herself of play and fun. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?! By chance, she happened to stumble across a TED Talk on play that opened her eyes to the reality that there was real science out there supporting the idea that we NEED fun in our lives.

This resulted in a 180 pivot. Kaitlyn started looking for how to create engagement and joy in her life. Despite holding the intention for fun….she couldn’t make it happen. Fun turned out to be…..a failure!

Prioritizing Play for 30 Days

After more research and more studying, she settled on a 30 day play plan she created herself. For 30 straight days, she committed to PLAYING, and she did! Ultimately, it changed her life.

I shared that, as adults, I think it’s so easy to get sucked into following the rules and doing what we think we have to do to be successful. If you’re not having fun or enjoying yourself, however, I have to wonder what the point is! Kaitlyn noted that one of her early “AHA” moments was that she saw play as a vacation thing. What she found instead is that play and joy and fun are possible every single day. We don’t have to wait until retirement!

Many high achieving people think of play as diversion. Instead, however, it’s a pathway. The people who take a pause for fun are the people who have long term energy for their passion. The more we take care of ourselves and enjoy our lives, the more likely we are to be successful!

Prioritizing play is a way of prioritizing self-care. And self-care is always good for us!

When Kaitlyn mentioned saving play for special occasions, like vacation, I thought of my clients! So often, we save the “good” food, like chocolate cake, for special occasions. We think we have to wait for holidays and birthdays and vacations to enjoy eating things we love….when in reality, we can eat fun foods we enjoy every single day! We don’t need to wait till some later fantasy time.

Before We Get to the Fun Stuff…

First, we have to check in with ourselves and find out what might be getting in the way of living with joy!

Culturally, we’re used to running ourselves into the ground and NOT taking care of ourselves, especially when the form of care is playing. There isn’t much messaging out there that supports our desire (and need) for play, so we might run into some internal blocks when we give it a go.

It’s important that we recognize the need to pause and identify what sort of internal beliefs we might have about play so we can really let ourselves enjoy it.

Another problem: Cinderalla Syndrome. We say we “can’t” play till all of our work is done. Kaitlyn says no! We have permission to pause, to take a play break, and to come back to our to do lists after we’ve taken a break. Because in reality….if you can’t stop till all the work is done and there is nothing left to do….you’re never going to stop. It will never all be done!

(Listen in to the full episode to hear a story about how this played out for my brother and I as kids!)

Don’t Deprive Yourself Of Play

If you’ve been a dieter, you know how easy it can be to get into deprivation mode. That attitude can translate beyond our food journeys and into our lives! Fun and play have to get prioritized if you want to live a full, abundant life!

Kaitlyn notes that giving ourselves NEW beliefs about play can help with this deprivation mindset.

+ Play fuels my best work.

+ The more fun I have, the better work I do.

+ Play doesn’t have to be long. (Take 10 minutes! Some of the most enjoyable things in our lives take 10-15 minutes.)

Sometimes we hold back because we think we need to be productive, and we don’t want to “waste” our time. Play, however, is a brilliant paradox. When we engage in play, we create so many positive things in our lives that fuel our ability to live the lives we desire.

When we play, we lose our sense of ego and self-consciousness. We often get into flow states, and there aren’t specific outcomes attached to it. And when we get into this state….our productivity in the rest of our lives can sky rocket! Why? Well, play allows our active brains to rest, and it also lights up the part of our brains that are creative and resilient.

In childhood, we pretty much rest and play, rest and play. There is no deprivation! Kaitlyn encourages you to think back to your early life; what did that young version of you LOVE? Where did she spend her time? What did she enjoy doing? Those are great ways to reactivate playfulness and fun!

And remember: If you want to stop depriving yourself, you have to get devoted to your own delight.

Fun & Enjoyment as an Adult

Kaitlyn remembers roaming free outside a lot as a kid, and she knows that sort of play really impacted her adult play styles. She loves to get outside and move freely!

Another childhood delight, writing, is something that she connects to playfulness and joy as well. As an adult, Kaitlyn uses these early memories of things that brought her joy and delight to tap back into a sense of wonder and delight when she plays now.

Practically speaking, it can be hard for adults to add play to their day when they’re first getting started. Kaitlin recommends looking at is a sort of ongoing project. The goal isn’t to figure it out in an hour; give yourself time to experiment and try things out.

Make a list of things that sound fun, and keep a “fun journal”. Record the things you do for fun and rate them on a scale of 1-10. Be a scientist of your own play. What’s working? What’s not? There’s no failures, just self-learning.

If you have just 10 minutes, be creative and see how you can fill that time. Kaitlyn shares that she knows how to juggle, and she keeps a set of juggling balls at her desk. She can juggle for 3 minutes, have lots of fun, and tap into a different part of her brain.

Coloring, doodling, dancing, taking creative photos, watching a hilarious video and laughing out loud, walking barefoot in the grass, climbing a tree, rolling down a hill, doing a magic trick, setting a puzzle….

There is no limit to what constitutes PLAY and what you might find delightful. Kaitlyn calls these play snacks, and encourages you to work them into your life in small increments throughout your day!

We’re Seeking Engagement

So often we find ourselves in the kitchen when we’re really seeking the feeling of being present and alive. What if sometimes you aren’t physically hungry, but instead you’re soul is hungry for FUN and play?

What are some ways you can feed your soul when that’s what you need?

Kaitlyn shared she’s been inviting people into “fun” dates recently. They might talk, but the goal is to play and have fun! That might mean playing a virtual game, coloring, or painting together. Inject newness and novelty into your lives and relationships as PLAY.

Breaking molds and shaking things up a bit can bring so much light and positive energy into your day. This is especially key now, as we continue to whether Covid (and smoke issues, here on the west coast)! Finding ways to have fun throughout the pandemic can help you maintain your mental health and stay positive.

Kaitlyn also notes that this is the perfect time to go inward and really connect with yourself and your own desires. Ask yourself what’s fun for you, and be open to creative options that you can do alone, especially if that’s not your norm. Learning how to have fun alone and play by yourself can be really life-giving. Give it a try and see what you can learn about yourself!

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