We all have that one thing that we’ve loved doing for as long as we can remember. It’s the outlet we crave, be it sports, art, or anything of the like. Mine is running. If I had to put a timeline on it, I’d say I’ve been running for around half of my life. It started as a way to stay in shape by doing something inexpensive and simple. Slowly and unknowingly, it turned into a way of life, an outlet to clear my head and stay sane. When I was younger, my body would ache to run and felt neglected if I went more than a few days without it. My thoughts would be clouded until I could get the energy to go for a run to clear it. An activity that started off so simple turned into something much greater.
Now that I’m no longer in college and have entered the “real world,” I’ve found that it’s easy to let my feelings of gratitude about running slip away as my time filled with adult commitments. There’s not enough time in the day. There’s too much work to be done. There’s too much cleaning to do around the house. It’s easy to make excuses and to put off something that I used to get so much enjoyment from. It’s the first thing I neglect to fit into my schedule, and yet it’s the one thing I say I always need to do.
That’s where the issue lies. Where in the process of growing up do our passions become our chores? Our lives become so full of to-do lists and responsibilities that we forget to make time for the simple things we once enjoyed. We want to go for a run, but we need to pay the bills and we need to finish that project before the deadline. We have so many obligations piling up that our desires slip out the window. There’s no time to do what we like to do because it is not an immediate end to a means.
Maybe that’s where we’re wrong. We spend all our time and energy doing what society tells us we have to do, but not doing the things that will make us our best selves. We need to make time for the things we love, the things that make that free time more enjoyable, the things that genuinely make us feel good. Only when we make time to clear our thoughts and let our minds be creative can we obtain the fulfillment that we crave. How good will busting your butt for that promotion feel when you’ve sacrificed every spare moment over the past two years to get you there? You’ll be burnt out your first day on the new job. It’s just not realistic.
This is why a work-life balance is so important. We need to make those things that we sincerely love to do into priorities. They should be at the top of your to-do list, regardless of if everyone else agrees they belong there. No matter what it is you love, stop making excuses and make time for it. Whether you have to start waking up an hour early to go to a fitness class or stay up an hour later to creatively mastermind with friends, you won’t regret you did it.
If we make time for ourselves to be our most authentic self, the rest will fall into place. Eventually, finding that extra time will feel like less of a chore and will become second nature. Working late won’t seem so bad when you know you get to take a cooking class with friends later that night. When your head is clear from that early morning spin class, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. Making our personal wants into needs will benefit not only our physical and mental selves, but will also benefit all those we come in contact with.
This “ah-ha” moment hit me when I did exactly that. I decided that I was going to run a marathon after months of putting off running because I didn’t have the time and didn’t have the energy. I was going to stop making excuses and commit to a goal and to my own well-being. At first, it wasn’t easy or glamorous. I was tired and sore and out of breath, and questioned what I got myself into. But one day, I came home from work on a beautiful sunny day and thought, “It’s so nice out. I want to go for a run.” It had been so long since a thought like that had crossed my mind. I knew I needed to train and I wanted to run. My priorities and my wants had finally aligned.