In pursuit of “other interests”

Posted on Posted in FOCUS on the NOW, Learning

Have you ever taken a step back to think about what you really love about living?  What you’re interests are?  After reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home book, where she shares how important it is to have little shrines of your stuff to represent what makes you happy, I started thinking a lot about what my interests are and how they come to life at home and in my daily schedule.

When I left P&G a year ago, this closing line was shared, “Nicki is leaving to pursue other interests.”  It was the line the company always used to communicate when someone was leaving.  As I heard it spoken for me I sort of chuckled at its clichéd-ness and wondered why it is so often used when what is more accurate is: “so-in-so found another job, he prefers to this one, so will be quitting this job.”

When I left P&G I thought I was leaving only to pursue a new job, so the line felt cliché.  Now, looking back a year later, the line rings more valid than I ever expected.

Why?  I had never given myself time, in my adult life, to pursue “other interests.”  Instead I gave myself time to develop skills, earn university degrees, network and try different types of jobs.  The overall theme was, interests must equal work/money or profit-supporting activity.

This past year I developed a lot of great skills that have enabled me to start a new career in life coaching.  I can now build a great WordPress site, send marketing emails via Mail Chimp, network with intention, create sales copy and life coach folks in just about any area of life.

Yet, a funny thing happened as I trained to become a life coach and had more time than I ever dreamed to pursue “interests.”   The adolescent in me, whom was a little stunted by AP classes and part time high-school jobs to save money for college, started screaming—what’s the rush! —stop and smell the dam roses, you earned this.  My husband (who loves that innocent adolescent) supported it’s will and allowed me to smell the flowers more than I dared to indulge myself in.

I had saved for years to have the freedom of time.  I teach my clients to save toward their deepest values in life (time freedom often being #1).  Yet, when I was given the gift of time, often all I felt was guilt in not pursuing work-related activities in my free time.

Adult “non-financial activity based” guilt…the kind of guilt that makes you feel like you should always be doing something financially productive or it’s not worth the effort.  For some reason as adults (often women) we don’t let ourselves enjoy our interests after leaving college until retirement, with perhaps a little time in between college and child rearing, if our jobs allow free time.

I was aware of this guilt before switching gears, but it’s insidious development into psyche ran deeper than I anticipated.  In order to let go of this guilt, I had to remind myself of a few lies, standing in my way of enjoyment.  Lie #1, if it’s not important to other people or society, it’s not worth doing.  Lie #2, if it doesn’t move your net worth forward, it’s not worth doing.

Concerning Lie #1; although there are many traits that make us common as human beings, we are each wired uniquely.  This means that what activities/interactions/feelings I experience are impossible to replicate through another person’s experience.  Net, although the way you operate may be outside of the norm, if it feels right to you, it is the exact right thing for you to be doing at that time.

Concerning Lie #2; making sure your base needs are taken care of is paramount to being a self-reliant adult.  If you have those needs covered and it leaves you with the ability to work part time or not at all, you can do whatever you want with that time.  If your material needs continue to not exceed available money and you want to learn to play the guitar, you should.

After exploring these two lies that were holding me back, I began to enjoy the journey of “pursuing interests” more fully.  I’ve indulged in reading books all afternoon, creating new vegetable dishes, endless coaching with colleagues and friends, writing/delivering speeches (for fun), leisurely traveling/photographing sites and tending to my garden.  I’m about to endeavor into another interest, I’ve left behind for years, playing the guitar.  This one seems even more indulgent…prompting this post;).

Ryan would not let me leave the store without this
Ryan would not let me leave the store without this

I wanted to share my indulgences of free time with you to spark your own creativity around, what interests would you pursue, if given the time?  Even if you can’t take a chunk of time off, what can you do today to give your life texture beyond all the responsibilities of life?

Dare to dream and let go of the lies holding you back from what you love.