Chase the fun.

Chase the fun.

Last month I spent a weekend talking with a group of smart women about business-y things.

Unsurprisingly, we spent a lot of time talking about our priorities. There’s always more to do than the time to do it in, so how do we decide where to focus our time and energy?

One boss lady shared a bit of advice that helped her prioritize where she spent her time on social media and it was this: chase the fun.

She explained: you can’t possibly engage thoughtfully with facebook, and pinterest, and twitter, AND instagram (not to mention snapchat, periscope, and the various new tools popping up every day). So pick one, and make it the one you enjoy the most. That fun factor is a good sign that you find it interesting enough to do it well.

She was talking about social media, but since that weekend, I’ve been dispensing that same advice on a regular basis, and it’s not in reference to instagram.

When people ask me about a choice they have to make (and hurray for choices!—not everyone is so lucky) I find myself telling them to chase the fun as they decide: the friend who has a brand new baby and two rare hours to herself and is baffled by how to spend it. The reader who wants to start a blog but isn’t sure what topic to focus on. The lawyer who emails me about wanting to quit law and write instead but isn’t sure what those first baby steps look like. My kid who needs to choose a topic for a research project.

Chase the fun doesn’t mean telling your boss to shove it and booking that flight to Jamaica, or leaving your homework unfinished. It doesn’t mean blowing the work off when it gets hard.

It means giving the preferential option to the choice that lights you up inside. It means finding the work that makes more of you. (Maybe it only makes a little bit more of you. Some days instead of chasing the work that makes more of you, your best option is the work that depletes you a little bit less.)

Chasing the fun doesn’t mean it’s not work, or that it’s not hard. It doesn’t mean you’re not scratching and clawing and gritting your teeth sometimes. But if you’re going to work hard, you’d just as soon be working on this, whatever this is.

I just finished reading the new Rob Bell book How to Be Here, and he puts a different spin on the concept. When you’re not sure exactly what to do next, which path to take, he says, Follow your curiosity. Whether you’re planning your whole life or just your afternoon, pay attention to what interests you. What problems do you find compelling? What issues make you stop and take notice? Pay attention to that.

This isn’t your permission slip to spend the day googling news on the Gilmore Girls reunion. It IS an invitation to keep an eye on what fires you up as you move through the world.

To those looking for the next step—for your project, your afternoon, or the rest of your life: chase the fun. Follow your curiosity. And take the next step.

What has chasing the fun looked like for you? When you followed your curiosity, where did it lead you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as any pithy advice YOU take to heart, in comments. 

P.S. You may also like: The work that makes more of you, and a little about my struggles with being the boss lady. And I’m 80% sure the women I have to thank for this good advice are Emily Freeman and Annie Downs (who even has a new-ish podcast called That Sounds Fun!). They are smart, savvy women: go check them out.

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25 comments

  1. This advice excites me! If I chase the fun I’m more likely to try harder and go the extra mile to do things well. I worry so much about doing what I’m supposed to do and the extra responsible things, but where there is room for choice, why not pick the fun option?

  2. Ali says:

    I love this advice! I have done the same with social media (kept only Instagram, because that is the one I enjoy the most), but this is definitely some good advice I can apply to grad school as well. Thanks!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I love the “5 fat folders” concept from Elizabeth George. She encourages (younger) women to limit themselves to 5 areas they really want to build and grow through the years and become an expert in those areas. Once you’ve reached a high level of skill, those areas are sources of constant joy and fulfillment. Where I fall down is in the energy department: it’s easier to pull up a favorite program or surf social media than work on value studies for a new painting or putter in the garden. Nothing can turn the iron in my blood to lead in my bottom quite as fast as a screen!

  4. I have chased the fun without realizing it. I volunteer at my church teaching dance to high school girls. We practice on Sunday evenings, and dance in service about 4 times a year. Those Sunday evening practices are the thing that gets me ready to face Monday. I now work as a teen associate librarian, so my paid work life also revolved around teens and I couldn’t think of a more exciting thing to do. Not everyone loves teens, but I just have so much fun with them!

  5. Dana says:

    Great post! I have always liked the phrase, “Follow your Bliss.”
    To me that means pursue whatever makes you so happy you cannot stop thinking about it and when you engage in it you lose all track of time. It is something you do for the love and for yourself, not for attention or money or any other external reason.
    For me it is writing. I love creating stories, poems, blog posts and just playing around with words and phrases. My new bliss is teaching writing. I have been teaching writing classes to senior adults at a community center since January and I have never been happier. I make a little money which is great, but truthfully I would do it for free. The class sessions just fly by and I am always disappointed that it is time to stop. ( confession: sometimes we keep going!) I am in the planning stages of expanding my classes to other age groups, which is exhilarating. I am chasing the fun!

  6. Karen says:

    Anne,

    I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now (about three years) but have never commented, even though I love your posts. After reading this post, however, I decided I had to! This is an amazing piece of advice to remember when getting lost in the internet! I am a new mama as well as a graduate student- and it totally gives me a little bit of perspective on identifying what’s really important in my life! Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. Katie says:

    “Chasing the fun doesn’t mean it’s not work, or that it’s not hard. It doesn’t mean you’re not scratching and clawing and gritting your teeth sometimes. But if you’re going to work hard, you’d just as soon be working on this, whatever this is.”

    Yes! My husband HATES the saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” He loves his job–he’s challenged, gets to use his strengths yet is always learning, is making a tangible difference in the lives of others–but it’s still WORK. He still has to put in (sometimes long) hours at the office. It can be stressful and heartbreaking and just HARD. He loves it; he’s “chasing the fun,” choosing to work in this field rather than pursue a more lucrative one. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work.

  8. Wendy says:

    This is so reassuring for me to read! I just turned in my two-week notice for my boring office-lady job to pursue a managerial position at Starbucks. I’ve worked there part-time for 6 years, and I never felt like it was a “real” job — just something I do on the side as a transition job. But I really do have FUN working at Starbucks, which is in stark contrast to the boring office-lady job. And being a barista has become comfortable to me; moving up the ladder will be challenging, but I’m ready to give it a try.

  9. Donna says:

    Love this post, Anne! With regards to social media, I’ve been focused a lot on Instagram lately. I’ve never been much of a Facebook person and I’m barely on Twitter.
    Chasing the fun for me m eans exploring my city. Every weekend, I find a new spot in Toronto just by walking around. I’ve found new spots to have brunch, get gelato, or chill with a book by the
    waterfront. It’s amazing.😊

  10. Leisa says:

    I love this advice! I’ve been struggling with where to put my energy. I’m going to be more conscious about it now and “chase the fun.” I’m going to follow the information and subjects that spark my excitement and full interest.

  11. Donna says:

    With regards to what problems I find compelling and the issues that make me stop and take notice, it would be how many people around me have been diagnosed with cancer. As a cancer survivor, I’ve gone through the extreme fatigue, sleepiness nights, constant worry and anxiety, and the countless symptoms. So I’m doing something about it! For the past three years, I’ve helped plan the Canadian Cancer Society’s signature event, Relay For Life. And leading up to this year’s event, I’ve been asked to be a spokesperson at community events sharing my cancer story and why it’s so important to raise funds for Relay (where the funds go) in the hopes of inspiring people to get involved. My first thought was to say ‘no’ (fear of public speaking) but I refuse to let fear stop me from sharing my story and giving hope to others.

  12. Angela says:

    I love that, “Chase the fun.” Some time ago, I promised myself not to do anything that doesn’t align with who I am and God’s purpose for me. I’ve been chasing the fun this whole time, but lately there’s a certain work I do that isn’t fun anymore. I forgot who said it but that change happens when the pain of staying the same has become greater than the pain of changing. I think I’m at that point. We chase some fun for a season and then we move on, while some fun are worth chasing for a lifetime.

  13. Anna says:

    I love this description, and the acknowledged difference- that sometimes it will mean fun, and sometimes it will mean the less draining choice. This is timely advice for me. I’m in the process of transitioning to something new, and I have some flexibility to form my role.

  14. Great post. You have captured the words that I have been trying to come up with to describe my last year. A year ago, I left a well-paying, fast track career in ecommerce in order to “chase my fun” (aka do everything that I had previously been saving to do in my retirement. So now I spend my days installing vegetables gardens for happy clients, reading a book at least once a day, stitching up custom embroidery for brides, and having the time and energy to hang out with the family that I worked so hard to create. Add in a glass of wine and good food and you have my idea of the perfect life. And while my current endeavors don’t rake in the money, it pays the bills. What more could you ask for.

  15. Lindsay says:

    I had heard Tsh Oxenrider mention “chase the fun” on her old podcast and it really impacted how I use social media. Instagram is the “fun” platform for me so I spend my time there.
    I love the idea of applying this to your daily life as well. As an enneagram 2, I have a habit of wanting to help all the time which leads to over commitment and a frazzled schedule. I’ve gotten better at saying no and focusing on causes close to my heart, but I think following the fun will help me even more to streamline priorities. Looking forward to reading Rob Bell’s new book!

  16. Angie says:

    I was a nurse for twenty years before my fourth cervical spine surgery and the constant pain that remained changed the course of my life. Fun didn’t even hit the top ten when I listed what I needed. It still doesn’t, but it sure helps! I enjoyed Creative Writing way back in high school, and once I rediscovered it I felt like a missing piece of my soul had regrown. Writing has led me to an amazingly supportive group of friends, and has given me the confidence to take on challenges and opportunities I’d have laughed at before. I have new goals, and a schedule that I could never have thought challenging just a few years ago. But I’m adjusting to my new normal, and celebrating my small goals!

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