It was spring and I was looking back over journal entries from the previous June. I found a note that I'd written to myself: "You like a full life but this month was bonkers. Don't do it again.".
Time has a way of dulling memory so while I had remembered that June of last year had been busy, I didn't fully recall the insanity. Apparently, I had the foresight to make myself a BIG note. I guess I know myself.
What happened last June? A lot of stuff. Kids finishing up lessons, dance and music recitals, exam studying and writing, the end of Q2 and the pressure to finish my projects, the busyness of all my teams preparing for summer holidays. When I let my mind drift back to the time, it's true, there were so many lovely moments but I was so busy, it was hard to enjoy them.
Socrates said "Beware the barrenness of a busy life" and I understand that to mean that I can be super busy, doing good and interesting things, filling my days with people and projects, and yet feel completely empty. What Socrates calls barrenness, I call empty, lonely, strung-out and awake at 3 o'clock in the morning.
So I took a hard look at my life. If there was too much, what could I give up? I'm 110% committed to anything that involves my kids, that goes without saying. I can see that the season of high involvement with my kids will be over sooner rather than later and I want to savour the years while I have them.
Work is important to me too. It's my outlet for creativity, productivity, self-discovery and yes, income.
I found something that I could do without. Golf. Last year, I was lucky enough to play with a group of three amazing women in a ladies golf league. We golfed about 10 times in the months of May-July, working out to it being almost every Tuesday in May and June. Each week, we'd meet up and golf nine holes then have supper together. It was fun and it was life-giving.
Until it wasn't. When I was honest with myself, I was shoehorning those Tuesdays into my very full life. I'd arrive at golf breathless and rushed, having torn myself away from the office. I'd scarf down a bag of chips just for the calories. And then out onto the course we'd go.
I loved getting together with those friends. But I didn't love the extra stress that weekly golf added to my life.
I have always liked the idea that I could have it all - work, family, friends, hobbies. But there are only 24 hours in a day. I can't do anything to change that.
So I decided to quit golf. Or rather, take a break from golf. I still love golf but I've decided that there will be time later in life to enjoy it.
I've long been a proponent of the concepts of Essentialism, a philosophy that Greg McKeown writes about in his book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. McKeown writes:
"The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. In many cases, we can learn to make one-time decisions that make a thousand future decisions so we don’t exhaust ourselves asking the same questions again and again."
On the author's personal website, the book is summarized in this way:
"The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.
By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter." Source: GregMcKeown.com
It felt the right time to quit golfing. Or rather, take a hiatus. I'm keeping my future options open.
The spouse of one of my golfing buddies asked me the other day if I missed golf. My answer was a confident No. But I miss the friends, I told him. So something that I realize now is that I need to make time for the friends. The golf can wait until the kids are out of the house and I have more time for leisure activities. Until then, friends remain one my priorities. So are kids, spouse, church, extended family and work. But not golf. I'm on hiatus and I'm happy about it.
What about you? What do you need to quit? What used to be life-giving but isn’t anymore? What would you feel relieved to quit, if you gave yourself permission?
You may also enjoy reading this post about how a customer challenged me to use my business to make a greater positive impact on the environment or this post about how in a job early on in my career, I couldn't keep facts straight and I realized that I was totally disinterested in the industry. I ended up taking a chance, quitting that job and going onto something I completely loved.