Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fun with pie charts

Alright, alright. I know I was supposed to do the new year’s resolutions thing a while ago now. Timeliness has never been my strong suit. I’m working on it. I have been jotting down notes to myself for a couple of weeks, however, reflecting on last year’s progress and setbacks, the obstacles I hope to overcome in the year ahead, new habits I want to cultivate, and old habits I want to let go of. And as much as I try to avoid it, the pages are filling with stuff I want to do: Volunteer with a homeless services organization. Read more books. Update my advanced directives. Talk to more strangers. Improve my skills as an educator and a non-profit manager. Visit another national park. Learn some good jokes. See more art. Dedicate myself to a strong rehabilitation from December’s injury, and come back stronger and more flexible than before. Nail a personal record in a fall marathon, and cross off another one of those 50 states.

Who doesn't love a well-timed fortune cookie?
The aspect of myself that I’ve been working hardest at over the past year is less doing. That is to say: better alignment between what I value and what I do. Today I have fewer commitments that clutter my calendar and just make me “busy,” and have made a career change that has me doing work that better fits my skills, interests, and professional mission, in an organization that fits my values and my personal mission. With that important transformation now behind me, a lot of free space has opened up in my grey matter, and I need to be careful about what I let back in. I’ve always carved out the time and space for running in my life, and there's always time for a good new joke. The rest of it will take some planning.

So while I’ve been doing all of this thinking about the things I’d like to do in the coming year, I’ve also given a lot of thought to the time that it would all require. Everything needs to fit, not only within my existential personal framework (who I am, who I’m becoming, who I want to be, blah, blah, blah), but let’s be real: it also just needs to fit within your basic 24-hour day. So I did a little math, and here’s how it all breaks down:

Sleeping and working account for nearly two-thirds of my life, but as luck would have it, I really love doing both of those things. Another fifth of my life is spent doing other grown-up things like eating (listen: food and who I eat it with is important to me, and thoughtful preparation and enjoyment takes time), grooming (which in addition to your basic personal hygiene also includes things like ironing my clothes, getting the occasional haircut, and trimming those nasty runner toenails), chores-ing (laundry, cleaning, shopping, and errands), and walking my aging but still-high-maintenance dog. And in an average week, it turns out I have the gift of 31 precious hours with which I am free to do as I please. 

I don’t have kids, I’m not in school, and I don’t need to work a second job to make ends meet. I’m not caring for an aging parent, or dealing with a personal health crisis. Life changes quickly, though, and for now I’ve got an enormous gift in that time and freedom, and I know I’d better use it wisely. Thirty-one hours (which breaks down to 2.5 hours of free time per average work day, and 9.2 hours of free time per average weekend day – what can I say? I love Excel spreadsheets) is not nearly enough time to do all of the things I’d like to do, no, so I need to make some choices. But I’ve got the time for more volunteer work, Sunday mornings spent with good books, and time spent in beautiful places. And – no excuses – I’ve got the time to get to the gym and get this calf muscle healed, hit the road (once it’s ready) and build my mileage back up, and rock an awesome marathon this year.

So, who’s got a good joke?

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