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Trying to get a life

May 24, 2010

What’s your hobby? Too busy for one? I know I’m guilty of that last statement.

There have been too many times where I’ve put my interests aside for work, chores or other “real-life” duties. I’ve only recently stopped to think how this work flow is actually affecting me.

You know what? It sucks. I’ve made myself miserable by pushing away my passions for a rainy day that never seems to arrive. Or worse yet, tried to convince myself that my work should be the one and only activity that really fuels my engine.

Fortunately, my life epiphany seems to be part of a larger shift in thinking in society today. More and more companies are valuing the well-rounded individual. Someone who loves his or her job, but something else too.

BBH just posted a blog highlighting projects that its employees maintain in their spare time. Author Heidi Hackemer, a planner for BBH New York, states what BBH and many other companies are starting to realize: someone’s personal pastimes are just as important as a formal education in his or her field of interest. A hobby, no matter how silly or small, shows a person’s drive to learn and an endless pursuit of inspiration.

Google has a similar mentality, and has actually transformed it into work policy. Engineers are given “20-percent-time” to focus on other interests that Google believes allows employees to bring inspiration back to their work. Apparently, Google Suggest was one project sparked by outside interest that was brought home to Google and developed.

What’s my take on this? Thank god. I want to do valuable work that I enjoy, but that’s not all I want. I was always the child with a new career aspiration every week. I can barely commit to lunch, how am I supposed to pick one single interest to pursue for the rest of my life? I haven’t even graduated from college and I’ve already found myself in a rut where I fixate on the resume benefits and time consequences of every move I make. This has turned me into a (more) neurotic, anxious, tightly wound person.

I feel like I am finally starting to acquire the reassurance and self-assurance that it’s okay to not want to dedicate every moment to a project, a favorite class, or something that will look pretty on my resume. I have a limited amount of time in this world, why shouldn’t I (and everyone) focus a little more on the present rather than how every action will affect our future? I want to do good work, and make time for the things I enjoy.

So what am I up to now?

I’m baking again, even if that makes me a domestic homebody.

I’m running at night, even if that means getting a little less sleep.

I’m writing again. My own thoughts, on paper. In color, too.

I’m also learning (slowly) to take advantage of every opportunity I want, and not what I think I should want.

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