Work Before Play or Play Before Work?

I feel really stuck in life right now.  I’m doing everything that I think I want to be doing (pursuing my master’s degree, working in my chosen field, developing my spirituality, maintaining my health) yet I often notice that amidst it all I feel stagnant and unfulfilled even.  It doesn’t seem to add up.  I don’t necessarily want to change anything about my life right now, at least the direction of it, but I also know I don’t want to feel this way.  I would appreciate any insight you have on this please.

Roberta, Michigan

Hi Roberta,

I’m going to answer your question with a question: what are you doing for fun?  You see, in the quest to live a fulfilled life, we often put a lot of focus on the stuff that we believe brings us happiness (career/purpose, money, stability, health, family, personal growth, etc.).  None of that is bad, of course, it just tends to carry a heavier energy of “seriousness,” an urgency to “get it done so I can be happy.”  Without a healthy dose of fun and variety in the mix, as well as inviting mindfulness (aka “being” within the “doing”), it’s very easy to find ourselves feeling stuck and even unfulfilled.  In fact, I believe fun is completely underrated in our society, that the mindset many people have that there’s only time for fun after the work is done is a huge disservice to their own happiness and well-being.  Fun and variety are the fuel that allows us to keep going with all the other important things in life!  And if you’re not having fun and enjoying what you’re doing, then what’s the point?  (Okay, so you can tell I’m a bit passionate about this subject.)

Now, I recognize that I don’t know everything about your story, and I’m sure there are probably some other contributing factors to your feeling stuck, stagnant, and unfulfilled, but I’m going to give you a place to start:

~ Ask yourself how much “healthy” fun and variety you currently have in your life (i.e., the kind that fills you up, makes you feel good and doesn’t hurt anybody, least of all you).  Then, if you can’t think of anything or there are only one or two things that you “sometimes” do, ask yourself:

~ “How can I add more healthy fun and variety into my life on a regular basis?”  This may look like taking a class just for fun, joining a club, scheduling in consistent time to hang out with friends, or even including at least an hour of fun into your day EVERY day. Then do it. (I do the last one, by the way, as part of my work day.  And I work more efficiently because of it.)

~ Also, ask yourself how you can be more present in each of those areas you’ve identified in your life (school, work, spirituality, health).  A place to start might be in noticing what you love about each of those areas.  Another idea would be to choose the state of being you wish you were in on any given day and simply be that (a whole other topic).

~ Finally, if all else fails, partner with someone to help you through it, to help you get to the underlying reason behind your “stuckness” and who can help you navigate your way to flow, fulfillment, happiness, joy and freedom.  Hire a coach, work with a therapist, a spiritual counselor, whatever you feel drawn towards but do something.  It’s so much easier (and faster) than trying to do it alone.

(Nova Wightman is a CWG Life Coach, as well as the owner and operator of Go Within Life Coaching,, specializing in helping individuals blend their spirituality with their humanity in a way that makes life more enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling.  She can be reached at )

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