Do Something! (You care about)
By Sonya Whaley, Mar 13 2016 08:00AM
Remember going to the Careers Advisor at school? Waiting your turn and then trotting along the corridor to meet with someone who felt lightyears older than you? Where they quizzed you on what you were good at and what you enjoyed, all keen to get you started on the right footing?
Their hearts were in the right place and those Careers Advisors had the right idea: doing what you enjoy is important. Yet so often it falls away.
When I was young and all through Uni, I wanted to be a writer. I even moved to North Devon and wrote bad poetry amongst the sand dunes for a few months.
I finished up at my hotel job each day by 2 o'clock and had the rest of the day to myself. I wrote, read, spent a lot of time walking and climbed a lot of hills.
It sounds better on paper than it actually was. I lived in a cottage on the edge of sublime and stretching Saunton Sands beach but it was so damp and spidery I was scared to turn the lights off at night and could never get warm. My Summer campsite friends had long since left and the locals I worked with at the hotel never really accepted me as a non-Devonian.
I soon realised I needed money to live and friends to be happy and moved on.
Fast forward fifteen years and I was working long days holed up in that charmless corner of London known as Paddington, consumed by a job I had fallen out of love with but swallowed up all my time and energy regardless. Call the Careers Advisor! Something had gone wrong.
If I had to pinpoint it, I'd say it was lack of evaluation. I was working hard but had lost sight of the point and most certainly the passion.
They say the opposite of happiness is not unhappiness, it's boredom. I'd agree with that. Happiness is progression. It's the feeling you're getting somewhere.
Beware of aimlessness
Those who take pleasure in slacking off and who seek out passive entertainment like TV and shopping for enjoyment are missing a trick. I never got to the end of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance but I got the gist. There is joy in applying yourself to something you care about!
Which is why retirement turns out, for some, to be an anticlimax. That combination of endless free time and lack of purpose can cause the unprepared to come undone. Aimlessness is insidious and deceptively treacherous.
Of course, the opposite can be true and often is. A close relative of mine intuitively grasped this as she took up choir singing as a hobby upon retirement and took pleasure in learning a new skill.
Not only was she rewarded with a whole new band of friends, this culminated in an unexpected opportunity to sing and act alongside some top British talent in a cinema-release film. When you set foot on a path, you never know quite where it is going to take you.
Play the long game
The takeaway from all this? Do something! Do something you care about, immerse yourself and be in that moment.
Moreover, play the long game. Apply yourself, chart your progression and applaud your milestones. You will be merrier for it along the way.
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