Embrace Enjoyment, and your work will deliver

3 min read

Enjoyment doesn’t fit any clear definition, so get to know it

If I don’t catch myself enjoying it, I drop it. Enjoyment is not everything, it is the only thing. I am not encouraging hedonism, so kindly do not judge me or run away with any ideas. I improved my own life and the ability to enrich others’ lives by subjecting anything I do to my personal ‘enjoyment’ test — I will call it the e-factor, simply for the want of a better simplifier. I do only those things that I enjoy doing now, and everything else is strictly shelved, shunted out of the funnel or delegated. Though over time I have got into trouble on account of the e-factor, the upside is far greater than the downside. Since I stuck to my ‘enjoyment diet’ after I resolved to reject any task that doesn’t pass the self-imposed ‘e-test’, I feel greatly empowered. To the few collaborators who think I’m being hedonistic because they have now learned that I do not undertake any tasks that I don’t enjoy, I say, ‘take me as I am or leave me’. Usually, they leave.

It depends; playing by ear is not for everyone

Let’s be clear about it, just in case. If I don’t enjoy it, I don’t do it, period. This includes stuff that is touted on the internet as compulsory if anyone is to achieve their goals in a given pursuit. For example, if you must learn to play an instrument, the pundits say that you need to leave the enjoyment of music right at the door and school yourself in at least the rudiments of music theory.

But, a theory has not made great golfers, or businessmen or sportsmen. I did not have a hunch that this was the case, but my distaste for theory made me do the research. So, I went ahead and mastered the keyboard, and made myself play by ear. It is as if I had to validate for myself that my distaste for theory was not some sort of plain laziness. I say with some sense of self-satisfied pride here that those who succeeded mostly enjoyed themselves in their chosen pursuit. The research confirms that.

Having said that, somebody else may be besotted with music theory, and each to his own, that being a different story …

… and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. — Steve Jobs.

Having fun is not synonymous with throwing in the towel

A strategy of sheer perseverance can be greatly misunderstood. People who do not persevere will fail. Steve Jobs said it himself in a different context. Perseverance, however, is no walk in the park. You have the right to say I’m contradicting myself. If I drop what I don’t enjoy, how is that perseverance — isn’t there a clear contradiction in terms? The answer is that if you don’t enjoy yourself you will not persevere, and I learned this each time I burnt my fingers not delegating a task that I do not like.

You bet it did prick my conscience when I started delegating every task that I considered drudgery. There is a need for creativity in the writing I do and that has to be followed up by good marketing. But there are other tedious tasks too such as filing of papers, filling forms, etc which I didn’t enjoy but didn’t delegate either, because any warped sense of perseverance creates a false sense of responsibility.

I used to feel as if I’m playing truant if I didn’t do all the tasks including the humdrum ones in which — I thought — I was supposed to persevere. Entire projects collapsed as a result and when that happens, it’s not enjoyable — trust me. Note: I’ve mended my ways.

Play the natural game, or be a freak

A games coach I know, tells his charges ‘play your natural game.’ He became the butt of jokes for what many of the parents of kids assigned to him considered an over-reliance on the natural talent of the kids. I play my natural game now at anything I do. I’ve been more successful but I can tell you there is no envy anymore of Tiger Woods or other prodigious players. No, golf is not my game, but I used to wonder why I’m not a pro like Tiger in my work. But I stopped doing anything that I don’t enjoy, and there is no room for envy. It’s because I’m enjoying myself too much to give a damn about Tiger.

Laziness, you can take care of it …

I started believing some rather frightening things, such as abandoning projects if my heart is not in them. Perseverance thought me that barriers are surmountable as long as you surf them and have fun. I took half a lifetime to learn that, believing as I did that enjoyment is supposed to be exclusively for those born with natural-born talent such as Tiger Woods. The wrong assumption on a lot of counts. Tiger didn’t hide his natural-born talent under a bushel. But his flair made him achieve — and when he achieved exponentially, he enjoyed some of the drudgeries in the training that followed.

Winning takes care of everything’, said Tiger Woods.

Let’s invert this. Hard work doesn’t pay, but hard work pays when it ceases to be hard work. Hint: it’s always the same work, though. But enjoy the things you enjoy, and it’s easy to slay the hard work beast as your frame of reference changes.


I had to write this in here somewhere. I’m not anywhere near the level of success I want to achieve even though I’m happy with my life. I’m not by any long shot what Tiger is to golf, in anything I do. But yet, I’m ascending. I have the feeling I keep moving up because I now have a past to look back at each day with some sense of satisfaction. I’d say enjoying takes care of everything. Winning may follow, perhaps, and I look forward to it.

Rajpal Abeynayake Practicing attorney at law, and contributing writer to South China Morning Post and Nikkei Asian Review. Public Affairs and Public Relations consultant. As an attorney at law, he practices in the Supreme Court and Appeal Court of Sri Lanka and has specialized in public interest litigation. Rajpal was the Editor in Chief of the Sunday Observer and the Daily News published in Colombo Sri Lanka, and the Lakbimanews English language weekly, of which he was the founder editor. He has been previously published in the Singapore Straits Times regularly and was an opinion writer whose column won him the Editors’ Guild Columnist of the Year award. He was a member of the World Association of Newspapers' Facebook expert group. AMIC (Asia Media Information and Communications Centre) has curated a collection of papers he wrote and presented on media-related issues. A short audiobook written by him on China and the so-called digital firewall is available in Audible. Rajpal writes across genres and is passionate about raising important issues facing underprivileged communities, wherever they may be. He believes in empowering people through his writing. More can be read here www.rajpalabeynayake.com

One Reply to “Embrace Enjoyment, and your work will deliver”

  1. That’s great advice. It would really help the current generation to balance life and work. The simplest way to lead a fulfilling life is to get your happiness on a daily basis. This just starts with simple things like everyday activities and continuing them in your regular day-to-day work life.

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