Note: This blog originally published in December 2011.
I’ve been passionate about writing since I was 13 years old, and I started writing poetry. More than 40 years later, I have many published articles to my credit and trunks full of hand-written journals. Most importantly, I found a way to spend my leisure time that gives me great joy.
In our work-a-day frenzy, many of us forget “joy” or come up with excuses why we don’t have time for activities that make us happy. Take a moment to consider what you can subtract from your life in order to add an activity that you would consider fun. And consider which of the following categories of possible passions speaks to you:
- Reading/continuous learning
- Religious exploration
Why should we spend time on pursuing our passions?
Why when your schedule is already so full should you try to add time for a hobby you could be passionate about? Because the ways we are spending our time now may not be full of things that we love to do. Pursuing our passions also allows us to learn new things. I learned a whole new way of relating to people while getting my black belt in karate that I apply to my consulting work on a regular basis. It expands our identities. How dull I would be if I were just “Lynn Nelson, the public relations consultant”? And when we retire and give up the work we devote much of our waking time to, we’ll still have activities that we’re passionate about to pursue.
How to discover a passion
Consider which of the above categories called to you. Also, consider what area (physical, spiritual, social, intellectual) of your life isn’t getting the attention it deserves. If you aren’t spending much time in the Spiritual category, maybe you’d like to try meditation. If you don’t have many physical outlets, you may want to try golf. Experiment with a variety of activities. Remember, you had to date a lot of people to find ones you were truly compatible with. And you don’t have to be good at an activity right away to become passionate about it. Many of my golf buddies and I had some frustrating years before we became passionate about golf.
I recently attended a party hosted by a designer, Bruce Armstrong, and his wife Linda. He and most of his friends are retired and don’t seem to miss the work world at all. I was talking about the topic of hobbies with a former successful architect who is now a water colorist, and he pointed out that it’s beneficial to have a variety of passions.
It’s true. Having multiple passions keeps us in balance. A master pianist who plays day and night will likely burn out, as will the athlete who doesn’t make time for other dimensions of her life.
But a pianist who plays golf, goes to church regularly and reads intellectually stimulating books is likely to stay in balance, avoid burnout, and strengthen all aspects of his life. Golf will build stronger muscles in his hands and arms, as well as focus; his reading will likely expand his knowledge of various topics – some of which will inevitably be related to music. And going to church exposes him to other sorts of music, as well as the calm found in turning over his problems to a higher power.
Finding leisure activities we’re passionate about provides us with compelling interests that distract us from our work and offers ways to satisfy the many dimensions that comprise our whole person.