“Happiness is not a goal; it’s the by-product of a life well lived.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I got to thinking about the things I really enjoy doing, and why I don’t do them more often. For me, these things revolve around relationships, travel, food (includes wine), and writing.
What do you enjoy? Do you find yourself skipping over the fun stuff because there’s just “not enough time”?
Unless you plan or schedule time to do those fun and interesting things, it’s easy to become a proverbial hamster on the wheel. The 24 hour cycle of daily life and minutia: work, cook, clean, meetings, appointments, kids, volunteer, etc. All those tasks that fill up most of your days (and nights) and keep you in motion, but lead to a place called Not-Much-Fun-For-Me-Land.
A few years back I took a hard look at how I’d spent the previous few months. I made two lists:
#1 Time Suckers; all the ways I filled my days, and
#2 Things I Never Want to Do Again.
I learned that I’d wasted a lot of time, and pleasurable things happened much less than I realized.
- Household tasks (cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc.)
- Standing/Waiting in line (for something/somebody)
- Watching television
- Mindless reading
- Mindless computer/internet surfing/playing
- And a few other G-rated time suckers I’m embarrassed to list.
Someday…when the Prince of my dreams…
I’m ordinary, not royalty, so until I marry a Prince and inherit his kingdom, this is my life. Some items are necessary of course. And most of those Time Suckers actually bring me joy. But I knew that with a conscious shift in scheduling, the fat could be cut to make more time for the good stuff.
The Time Sucker list was the easy part. Just by lowering my self-imposed housecleaning standards, a fair amount of time opened up. My new motto: There is an acceptable amount of dog hair I can live with.
Just like any fat cutting diet, you will have withdrawal symptoms. I needed to agree with myself that getting rid of Time Suckers made me leaner, i.e. to do the things that really matter.
I hacked away at the list by consolidating tasks and shutting off the television. Then something big happened. I shifted from seeing my life as a fixed list of time sucking To Dos to the creation of a mini-manifesto:
10 Things I Never Want To Do Again
1. Work for someone on the 9 to 5 clock.
There are plenty of employment opportunities that don’t require a gatekeeper or time clock.
2. Work with people who don’t have a passion for the work we share.
Together we can move mountains, or furniture!
3. Work only for the money.
Money brings financial security but I’ve met plenty of miserable wealthy people.
4. Miss an opportunity to be with my family or friends.
A recital, ballgame or a dear friend just passing through town can never be bought back.
5. Excuse an opportunity to help someone.
There’s always someone worse off. We’re on this planet to help each other.
6. Miss the chance to travel.
The view is only so wide from my front porch.
7. Associate with crazy people.
This includes the mean-spirited, egocentric, selfish, angry, gossiping, vengeful, spiteful, unkind, or paranoid. For the record, I’ve been all of them and don’t ever want to be one again.
8. Wait in line or for an appointment longer than required for the intended purpose.
Or make someone wait for me. Unless I got a flat tire on the way, it’s rude and thoughtless.
9. Be afraid to try something new.
Not on a dare, but because I know it might be fun or provide real growth.
10. Take my mental or physical health for granted.
Be mindful that both need constant care.
Writing this kind of list requires you to be a bit selfish, but, it’s your life, right?
Listing 10 things you never want to do again is fairly easy. Putting your 10 things into practice is hard. Not everyone is going to be a fan of your list. And because you say “never want to do” doesn’t mean you never will. Let’s call this a lifetime achievement goal.
I’m a big believer in starting small by doing ONE THING. Take a first step without becoming overwhelmed with an exhaustive list. Start with one thing you never want to do again in order to give you back some time to do something that truly makes you happy and adds quality to your life.
Write it down. Stick it on the fridge.
I never want to (THIS ONE THING) again in order to (THIS ONE THING) more often.
In the end, we are all looking to live a happy life, right? Make your lists. Please share at least ONE THING to encourage others to do the same.
Eliminate your Time Suckers to gain the time to do one thing that makes you happy.
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