Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like, and how I want to spend my time. Do I always want to be working? Nope. Do I want time to give back to my community? Yes.
In the past, a lot of my time has been devoted to earning money for my family and to raising my son. Now, with my freelance business doing reasonably well, and with my son almost to middle school, I have a little more free time. And I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with that free time.
Basically, the way I want to use my free time is divided into two categories: Self-improvement and giving back.
One of the best investments you can make is in yourself. I want to be able to grow my own capabilities, and improve myself as a person. My husband has been trying to get me to take guitar lessons again since I gave them up three years ago to make time for work. But it’s not just musical development I’m interested in. I’d also like to take a few classes at the university, and maybe work on expanding my mind in other ways.
Not only is self-improvement fulfilling, but I also think that it would help me improve as a wife, mother and business owner. The skills and discipline acquired and practiced through the activities I’m drawn to would translate into my business as well. Plus, I having more things to add to my schedule would probably force me to be more productive during my work time.
For years, I’ve wished to be more involved in my community. I haven’t felt like the time was available, though. This year, I’m volunteering on the PTA board at my son’s school, and I’m getting involved in the community council. Additionally, I am sitting on the board for a local arts event. Helping in these capacities are great because they help improve the community, and I feel good giving my time.
I’d like to find time to volunteer at the food pantry, adding my time and effort to the regular donations I send, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that yet. I don’t know that I have that much time.
While I’m excited about these newfound projects, I do need to be careful about over-scheduling. One of the pitfalls of modern society is the tendency to be out and doing for the sake of being busy. I want to stay carefully balanced. I don’t want my activities to cut into quality time with my husband and son, and I don’t want to end up burned out and stressed.
This means that I need to prioritize. What is most important to me right now? At this stage of my life, where do I want to spend my time? I like volunteering with PTA and with community council because it puts me in my son’s school, and I can help improve education, and it gives me a reason to spend more time with my son.
I like the idea of self-improvement because it is something I can do for me. We all need to take time for ourselves. It’s a way to connect with yourself and to grow as a person. Plus, when you fill up your own well, you are able to turn and help others later. Being happy with myself, and confident in myself, makes for a better relationship with my husband. While we lean on each other for many things, the reality is that I can’t expect him to do everything for me. I need to do some things for myself, and be my own person.
So, since I can’t do everything — and I wouldn’t want to — I need to prioritize. This means that I’ve had to cut back a little bit on work and switched out some of my clients, and it also means that sometimes I say no to demands on my time. But it also means that the things I do participate in receive more of my attention, and that there is the potential for me to give more to these activities.
What do you think? How do you spend your time? How do you keep from becoming too busy?