It’s Time to Tear Down the Work Ethic Wall That Separates Work and Enjoyment

It is time to tear down the work ethic wall separating work and enjoyment and replace it with a seamless Development Ethic. The dictionary definition of ‘work’ doesn’t include the word ‘money’: “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”. Anything we do to creatively use and develop our natural attributes – for pay or passion – adds to the development and progress of the individual and society.

Generations ago the work ethic built a wall between work and leisure. People on the working side had no idea what leisure was all about. They thought it meant laziness, slacking off, even a competitor to work. In essence, a waste of productive working time.

Then 21st-century life began to speed up, changes happening daily in every facet of work and life. Stress, pressure, technology, and change began to weigh heavily on work productivity and mental health. Stress and burnout had become the number one human and business cost.

Businesses saw mental problems as a sign of weakness. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Get stronger. Go to a gym, get fit. “A fit worker is more productive”. The problem is only about 7 percent of the population enjoy keeping physically fit.  Probably less, when it comes to the workforce.

Technology made working at any time 24/7, pushing the wall further into the leisure space. Work-life balance is a nice concept but it’s time-based.

What’s the answer? While you can’t deficit-budget time you can deficit-budget the energy needed to sustain the resilience to deal with stress. You can build your own renewable energy plan.

The source is found in any experience so enjoyable that it takes your mind completely away from your stresses – be it for ten minutes, half a day, or a holiday. It can be a physical or mental interest. Any freely chosen creative experience you enjoy so much that you are “in the zone” is, in a word, “energizing”. The more frequent the energizing experiences, the greater your resilience to cope and reduce the risk of burnout. Better still it makes work more productive (and a happier boss too).

In effect work and enjoyment becomes a continuous process of work-life harmony – a harmonious mix of energizing interests and energy-draining responsibilities at work and in life. The outdated work ethic wall becomes replaced with, effectively a Development Ethic – a seamless process of progressive and continuous development, utilizing a continuous flow of energy-in and energy out.

The pain of prolonged excessive stress becomes replaced with a natural, personal energy resource for a life in which you are better able to enjoy being your true self.


Peter Nicholls
Peter Nicholls
When you lose yourself in an interest you enjoy, you find yourself. For 50 years, Peter has been driven by a passion to understand not so much what people enjoy but why they enjoy it. What role does the enjoyment factor play in our lives, our personal growth, and development? After gaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Graduate Diploma in Recreation Planning, Peter spent 30 years working professionally in recreation development, helping people of all ages improve the quality and range of their favourite recreational experiences. He was, in effect, helping people “re-create” their true self through interests they enjoy for the sheer intrinsic pleasure of the experience. His first book “Enjoy Being You” (2001) reflected his work in those years. What might this do, thought Peter, for our lives at work and personal life beyond simply leisure and recreation? After leaving work, Peter re-invented himself as a Life Enjoyment Mentor, helping people enjoy being their true selves. He created a structured approach to help people unpack everything they enjoy in life and repacking those experiences that will become the basis for their future. (Producing many ‘aha’ moments) Having a professional background in what people do when they are not at work, Peter’s writings bring a different, refreshing and revitalizing perspective to what drives our lives, including our work. As well as “Enjoy Being You”, Peter is also the author of “The Hunger to Grow – an Alternative to Retirement” (2016) and “Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are – 52 Lifeskills Messages for Teenagers” (2013). You can find out more about Peter Nicholls at Peter Nicholls | LinkedIn, at, and on Facebook at Peter Nicholls | Facebook.

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  1. Wonderful exploration of the shift in ages, and the potential of building a better future with enjoyment for what we do and where we do it. Our lives aren’t separate, though the old models presented them as such. They left out the inner struggles faced that were rarely, if ever, discussed because of the perceived need to separate work and leisure. Perhaps our lives are becoming more contiguous, flowing with our capacity for managing time better and learning where to put attention, intention and interaction for the best results.

  2. Thanks Byron. You and I are among the fortunate minority that love the work we do to the point we don’t see it as work. Various researches have shown that a staggering 70 per cent of people are not engaged in their job. Not sure what impact Covid has had on that figure. Covid has focused my Life Enjoyment Mentor business around my long time theme of Enjoy Being You….people want to rediscover and re-purpose their true self, their natural abilities and what others value about them.

  3. Thanks for this Peter. It’s interesting to me, because as a commercial pilot for 40+ years I tell people I never worked a day in my life. So it’s a bit hard to relate to the concept, but that’s just a conceit on my part. In contrast, my 91-year-old mother-in-law is still driven to be productive every day. She was raised on a farm during the Depression, and sitting idle equates to ‘being lazy’ to her. Mariah and I try to convince her she’s not being ‘lazy’, she’s being 91 years old! It doesn’t work. Thanks for sharing this.