What is your personal theme for this year?

What do you want to focus on in 2017?

What will your organisation be aiming to achieve in the next twelve months?

It feels, right now, that the world is awash with seriousness – there’s an overabundance of ‘adult’ stuff piercing our collective consciousness.

The news is serious. Whenever anyone mentions the economy, it’s with a frown on their face. Everyone is understandably worried and anxious about a virtual kaleidoscope of pressing international and local issues.

Even information meant to offer solutions to the challenges of everyday life are offered in a very ‘down-the-line’, ‘sit down and shut up’ way: ‘10 things successful people do every morning.’ ‘Seven small things people use to decide if they like you‘ – the pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is simply overwhelming.

But there are no recipes in life that can guarantee you success. There just isn’t a formula that anyone can follow to achieve the result they were expecting when it comes to navigating the path ahead. In times of great change and stress – the best thing that you can do… is play.

Play is a fundamentally underrated activity in our modern world.

Society is far more concerned with predictable results and performance than they are with enjoying what it really means to have access to all of the marvels that thousands of years of work has brought about. All work and no play has certainly made the world a dull and stressful place. So perhaps now – this year – is the time to balance things out with just a bit more playtime.

Scientists are increasingly discovering that children’s play has surprising developmental power, which can be very effective in reducing levels of poverty and crime in later life.

But why should play stop when children reach a certain age?

In his 2008 TED talk, Tim Brown from IDEO gave a fascinating presentation of how play can radically improve creative thought and business development in organisations. Steven Johnson has also done extensive research to show that many great inventions came about, not as a result of serious brainstorming sessions and the efficient use of spreadsheets, but through authentic curiosity brought about by the activity of play.

So perhaps then 2017 must be declared, The Year of Play.

A year for running on the mountain without a watch or a Strava app recording your performance. A year for reading an old Tintin comic book for absolutely no reason whatsoever. A year for spontaneously having lunchtime drinks with the team just because it’s a nice day outside. A year to sit quietly and watch a beautiful sunset without trying to Instagram the experience for a wider audience.

Just because. For no apparent reason.

Maybe a bit more playtime in 2017 will balance out the inevitable seriousness that the year will bring so that everything will feel just a bit more bearable all round. And who knows what might happen if we just take the time to remember that being alive itself is a wonderful thing.