No matter what season of life you are in–whether you are a college student, an entrepreneur, or a stay-at-home-parent–at some point, we all find ourselves in the position of simply not having “enough” time in the day to tackle all that is expected of us, let alone dive into those deep-seated passions that have lied dormant for weeks, months…years? The incomplete projects blanketed with dust in the garage, the list of books we want to read but never have the time to, or the stagnant passions we haven’t pursued, can all leave us feeling frustrated and disappointed. Shouldn’t we be further along? After all, there is life beyond work. There is more to us then the responsibilities we uphold–there just doesn’t seem to be any time left over to devote to it.
Personally, I had graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in art; yet, I had gone over three years without writing a single sentence or drafting a single sculpture. I became a parent of one (…then two) young boys and that became my entire life. I had lost my identity outside of a wife and mother, and the writer/artist side of me had felt as though it had all but dissolved. There didn’t seem to be anything left over. My days fell into a comfortable rhythm of putting the boys to sleep and then collapsing upon the couch, mentally/emotionally/physically exhausted–completely unmotivated to tackle any of those creative ideas feverishly looming in my mind hours prior. I felt like I just needed to “refuel” for tomorrow’s demands, which seemed to approach quicker than I could prepare for. Night after night, week after week, and month after month, I began to waste the precious, limited time I had to focus on myself and my passions.
We all have our own ways of “checking out” to give our weary minds a reprieve for our life’s demands. That is okay, and honestly needed–but in proper proportion. (We are talking portion control here.) If you were to assess an average, routine day in your own life, beyond the unavoidable tasks you must do, how do you typically use the time “left over.” For me it was checking into social media to reel back the creeping feeling that I was disconnected from others, or becoming mesmerized by the glowing television screen in the middle of the night. Ask yourself, “how do I use what’s left over?”
We think it is harmless to glance at our devices throughout the day, looking for updates. But if we truly were to calculate the amount of time it absorbs–time we already didn’t have to give–we might be able to see what better uses that time could serve. That notification sound disrupts the flow of our minds and our presence in that given moment. Think about it, how many times have you sat down to have a meaningful conversation with a friend or loved one, to have your exact train of thought disrupted by the chime of your phone. “What was I saying?” you catch yourself wondering. Or the need to stop what you are doing to rush to your phone or computer to send a message, one of questionable importance. You stopped the flow of energy and momentum to do it, sometimes that fleeting opportunity gets lost when we return to our activity and find ourselves slightly less motivated or focused.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying screen time is evil and should be done away with entirely. I am simply saying that when we find ourselves binge watching television every single night, or hours of searching the “dark side of the internet” (when you ask yourself, “how did I even get here?” at midnight) we need to stage an intervention…with ourselves. What my husband and I did after putting the boys to bed was evaluate what we felt like pursuing of our own individual projects or passions for the night, then dedicated time to that for about 2 hours. We would unwind to maybe an hour or less of television before bed. A movie night once or twice a week is fun but balanced (not every night needs to be a marathon movie night!) All that is needed is portion control, you will find what works best for you and your schedule.
Also, it is worth noting, not all screen time is counter productive. Utilize the tools you have to pursue your passions, not distract you from them. Watch YouTube videos to teach yourself a new craft, or search forums to troubleshoot your next computer project. Writing is one of my biggest passions and I find fulfillment in writing posts in hopes they encourage others. Wield the tools to your advantage.
We all have our own unique passions and goals we would like to see ourselves achieve, yet we wrestle with trying to fit it all into one day. We can’t physically fit it all into ONE day; however, we can assess and organize our time so that we are better utilizing the time that we have. If you are up for it, I have a challenge for you that will lead you to a more productive and fulfilling week.
I feel a 7-day challenge is a lot more realistic to uphold than say a 30-day challenge (Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we aren’t going to shift your entire lifestyle in one either.)
Step 1: Assess your day, where do you find yourself distracted by unnecessary screen time. Whether it is binge watching TV, scrolling social media for an extended period of time, or watching the latest funny YouTube videos you have seen circulating online.
Step 2: Make a list of the goals and passions that have remained dormant. What interests would you like to dive further into? What books have you always wanted to read? What DIY or home improvement projects have you pinned for what feels like forever, and you keep saying to yourself, “I really should make that.”
Step 3: Take the first step. Whether it is visiting a home improvement or craft store to buy the supplies; visiting a library to finally pick up that best seller or classic novel; or beginning to teach yourself how to become a better photographer, surfer, woodworker, etc. Whatever your passion is, let’s get you the right information and the right tools to set you on the right path.
Step 4: Enjoy those long held ideas becoming a reality. You deserve it!
At the end of the challenge, it is my hope that you find yourselves more compelled to continue to set time aside throughout your days/weeks to feed those deep-seated passions that leave you feeling fulfilled with purpose. Let’s start living a fuller life today!