Last year I did something which seemed so whacky at the time as to be almost happening to someone else. It brought together my fears, anxieties, my need to research and prepare heavily, some shopping for weird stuff, self-doubt, travel and excitement. Yep, I went hiking.

For those who’ve already been playing along at home with my story, it wasn’t just any hike. It was the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia, which is globally famous for meshing hard trails with mindbusting scenery. As the gods saw fit, the only spots my friend Kate and I could get were for the hike which is red flagged as only for absolute experts and madly experienced hikers.

We were neither. We were both suburban matrons who dabble in exercise and like our creature comforts. And yet while we started the Larapinta with trepidation and tears, we ended it with jubilation (and tears.) Such a big personal achievement for both of us which led to us wanting to experience such highs again, yep, even if it meant also taking the lows. All part of the journey.

What the hike cemented for me is the vital importance of play in life but also, hugely, in business. Hiking became my No 1 mode of play (see ya midweek ladies’ tennis) and it led to me writing and speaking a lot about the very serious business of play. The discovery that playing sparks creativity in all areas of life changed the way I approach and do business and became a North star.

As adults, we’re so busy doing adult stuff—building families, finances, fitness—that we forget the really rich bits in life come from being happy. Remember how great it felt to play all day every day as a kid? Finding that freedom is my secret sauce these days as a happy adult. I truly get that life, health and relationships can be fragile and I feel most alive when I’m pushing hard for adventure and stepping outside comfort zones.

Kate and I—along with another of accountability buddies, Sam—did a second hike at the end of last year, the Three Capes Track in Tasmania. Along the way we talked relationships, we talked dreams and disasters and we talked our business plans for 2023. It was so successful that Kate and I are about to head out again for six days of hiking through the Flinders Ranges.

Yes, there will be a ton of steps taken, but not just physical. I plan for this hike to help me power up my business for 2024. To give me the thinking time and open space and peace and perspective that I now know massively sparks ideas, decisions, ambitions and happiness.

What else do I know? Well. That investing in a week of play will:

Increase my productivity

  • Relieve stress
  • Fire up my creativity
  • Improve my relationships and connection to others
  • Boost my energy levels
  • Stimulate my mind and increase creativity
  • Heal emotional wounds

    Kate also happens to run her own business so we’ll both be planning out our 2024 across those Flinders Ranges. We definitely see taking this time away from our businesses is the best investment we can possibly make in those businesses.

By the time I finish the hike I will have:

  • Determined my theme word for 2024
  • Discussed my expected finish to 2023
  • Set my 2024 sales and profit objective
  • Crystallised my service offerings for 2024—what will be new and what will be rested or  decommissioned
  • Identified my 2024 keynote presentation subject

    I’ll be discussing what I need to do more of in 2024 as well as identifying what I want to do less of. And just like I ask my clients during private coaching, I’ll identify an important personal goal I aim to achieve too.

Amid all of that I’ll be out in nature, enjoying time away from my phone and computer, taking a break from my biz and family, watching incredible sunrises and sunsets, laughing my arse off with my bestie, hashing out our problems and discussing opportunities for our next biz planning adventure!

As per the Harvard Business Review and New York Times, play is being taken seriously these days by global businesses who see its benefits as including increased productivity, improved brain functionality and stimulated creativity (I keep coming back to that word!) It’s time to redefine the concept of play in life and business and learn how being more playful and adventurous leads to greater success and happiness.

Taking a break to play can be the best thing you could possibly do for your business to set you up for success in 2024.