When people begin to investigate career change, often they don’t want a new career at all. They love their career — but they also want time for creating a life outside work. As a lifetime leisure-seeker, I’ve created ten tips to help you get started on the quest for “more time in your life — and more fun.”
1. Decide where leisure ranks on your list of values. Are you working to pay for something that you don’t value very much?
2. Seize moments during the day, evening, lunchtime and weekend. Time management guru Alan Lakein calls this the “Swiss cheese method:” using the holes. Think “fun” in fifteen-minute segments.
3. Buy leisure time. Hiring a teenager to mow your lawn may give you an hour or more, depending on the size of your property. Get even more creative. For a price, your pet-sitter might be persuaded to take Fluffy to the vet and Fido to the groomer.
4. Stop doing things that nobody will miss.
I once worked with someone who stopped answering requests for reports from “senior management.” When a vice president asked, “Where is your report?” he would prepare one on the spot. Most of the time, nobody noticed!
Same goes for housekeeping: do you need the “cleanest house in town” award?
5. Set limits and set them again. Saying “no” to invitations is a beginning. You can also define your scope: “I will be happy to help as long as I can do the work on Saturday.”
I’ve role-played scenarios with clients who think the earth will cave in if they say “no.” Often they’re amazed to find nobody missed them.
6. Stop losing energy to procrastination or fear. If you dread making that call or put off changing that light bulb, do it now and enjoy leisure, guilt-free.
7. Ignore the pressure of, “Everybody else is participating.” Chances are everybody else is miserable — or isn’t doing any more than you are.
8. Prioritize your time for energy boosters and time expanders? Meditation, journal writing and exercise will increase your energy and miraculously add hours to your day.
9. Grab a large block of time each week to do exactly what you want. Two hours? A whole afternoon? An afternoon in an art museum (or an evening at a basketball game) will often unravel the knots that keep you working late.
10. Call for outside help if you’re still trapped by the “should” monitor. Find a friend, counselor or coach — someone who can offer you an objective insight and clarify priorities.
Bonus tip: Remind yourself every day: Very few people on their deathbed say, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office,” or, “I should have done more dusting.” Will you be one of the few?
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., wrote Making the Big Move (New Harbinger 1999). She works with professionals who have seen the light and are ready to ditch their current career and start a second one.