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August 14, 2023
Whether you are thinking about what to do in retirement, or just contemplating how you spend your time generally at work and in leisure, play should be as a vital consideration.
Let’s explore what play is and why it is such an important activity for kids and adults alike.
Stuart Brown is a psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute for Play and he wrote Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.
Brown emphasizes that play is a fundamental aspect of adult life. It is not just for children. Play is s an essential component of a fulfilling and meaningful life for people of all ages. Play contributes to overall well-being, creativity, and the ability to adapt to life’s challenges.
Individuals who incorporate play into their lives tend to be happier, healthier, and more resilient.
It is important to understand that play is not the opposite of work. In fact, the experts agree that play is actually essential to effective work.
Brown argues that play plays a role in encouraging creativity, innovation, and mastery in the work place.
Rather than being work, Brown believes that the opposite of play is depression. He emphasizes the importance of play in human development and well-being. He believes that play is a fundamental aspect of human life and that its absence can lead to negative psychological and emotional consequences, including feelings of depression.
Brown defines play as any voluntary and enjoyable activity that provides a sense of engagement and fulfillment.
Brown outlines several characteristics that define play:
Here are a couple of examples of how I experienced play in the last week:
Leisure Play: Last weekend I happened upon a beached dinghy at a secluded cove. For absolutely no reason, two friends, a stranger, and I spent three happy hours trying to dig it out of the wet sand in the cold Northern California shore break. We didn’t feel the frigid sea, we didn’t notice the sun setting, we just collaborated on how to get the water logged craft onto dry sand.
We failed. We barely budged the boat. However, it was the most collaborative and fun few hours I have spent in a long time. I still feel totally invigorated and inspired from the endeavor.
Work Play: Last week (and almost every day), colleagues and I were exploring how to make it easier for people to connect accounts and keep track of their net worth in the Planner. The back and forth problem solving was exactly like my experience digging out the boat. Instead of experimenting with digging and using levers & the ocean’s momentum to move the dinghy, we were doodling and testing solutions via Zoom.
Play is a personal experience, and what brings playfulness to one person’s life may differ from another’s. The key is to be intentional about seeking out activities that bring you joy, stimulate your imagination, and allow you to experience the many benefits of play in your life.
Brown offers several suggestions and insights on how individuals can incorporate more play into their lives:
While financial planning is typically seen as a serious and structured process aimed at setting goals and making decisions, it is actually a creative endeavor infused with problem solving and imagination. Infusing planning with a sense of play can lead to more innovative and effective outcomes.
Here’s how financial planning and using the NewRetirement Planner can incorporate elements of play:
Visualization and Storytelling: Playful financial planning might involve visualizing your desired future and crafting stories around it. This can make the planning process more engaging and help communicate the vision more effectively. This is particularly true for setting goals and building out your future budget. Budgeting can be seen as a chore, but using the detailed budgeter in the Planner is actually an incredibly useful and playful way to think about who you want to be in the future.
Creative Problem Solving: Play encourages brainstorming, experimentation, and trying out new ideas. Financial planning can benefit from these creative processes, where participants are encouraged to explore unconventional solutions and think outside the box. See what ideas the digital coach has for solving your financial problems.
Scenario Building: Playful strategic planning might involve creating and exploring various scenarios or “what-if” situations. This can lead to a deeper understanding of potential challenges and opportunities, allowing for more informed decision-making. Use Scenario Comparisons in the Planner.
Log into the NewRetirement Planner and play with your plans.
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