One of the many reasons I love my husband is because he’s a kid at heart.  This manifests in many ways, but the thing I think I love best is that he loves to visit toy shops. This means I’m in toy shops fairly frequently (certainly more frequently than I would be on my own), and whenever I’m there, I love exploring new toys, as well as seeing things I loved as a child that sometimes I’ve completely forgotten about.

Recently, we were in a store and I saw Candyland; probably my favorite game when I was small (maybe you loved it, too?). I hadn’t thought about it in, well, a really long time, but I picked up the box, looking at the pictures of the board, and was transported back to the time when I could sit for hours and race my way to the top. It’s a mindless game, but boy, was it fun for me at a time when fun was really the point of my play.

All the way home I thought about it, and about games and business; games and life.  Really, every bit of it boils down to some version of these four steps/questions:

Step 1: What’s the game?
Step 2: Do I want to play it? (Spend an extra minute here to get a good answer from deep inside you; if you don’t want to play it, don’t move forward!)
Step 3: How do I play it?
Step 4: How do I win?

Whether playing Candyland, making it through college, being good at a job, writing a book, succeeding in business, having a happy and long-lasting marriage, raising a kid, training a dog, milking a cow, brushing your teeth, being a good friend, or anything else you can name, this is what we do.

Winning is easier when the play is smart

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re new to something or you’ve done it 10,000 times and have achieved mastery, the steps still apply. We get good at the steps over time and they become less conscious for us on a minute-by-minute basis, but if we need to figure something out, we can return to the steps and ask the questions knowing that the answers will lead us where we need to be.

Here’s an example:

What’s the game? Creating a business as a VA.

Do I want to play it? Heck yeah! :D

How do I play it? I need to learn the rules of the road as it’s being played, and make my own rules for what I want to do in my business (be subversive!). That means finding someone to teach me, and taking all the steps needed to create something good for me.

How do I win? First, I need to decide what “winning” looks like for me in this situation. Maybe it’s supporting myself wholly from the business. Maybe it’s contributing to the family coffers while having plenty of time to take care of my kids. Maybe it’s taking over the world. Whatever it is, as I’m learning to play, I need to keep the win in mind so that everything I do takes me in the direction of my version of that goal.

Then you play.

Some games are simple and straight forward. Others are way more complex. But if you start with a very easy framework, like this one, a few things will inevitably happen:

  • You’ll know exactly what you want
  • You’ll have a plan for getting it
  • If you don’t want what you’re considering, you’ll find it easier to let it go so you can move on to playing something else that’s a better fit for you.

Then the question will simply be whether you played well. And whether you play well will depend on how honest you were with yourself in Step 2.  Ya feel me?