Can I ask you a question ? How many areas do you have in your life that are important to you and do you give them the attention and respect that they deserve ?
Eight years ago was a key point in my life as my Father passed and I threw myself into a non profit organisation that was involved with a football club. Looking back, I think the two events were connected but I didn't recognise that fact at the time. This new involvement was exciting, it involved a fair bit of travelling about the country and good times were had as my involvement got deeper. A year later and I was involved in the running of the organisation and it started to suck the hours out of my life. It wasn’t unusual for me and other volunteers to spend 30 hours plus a week on this and that was on top of our paid work.
I am the sort of person that if I am going to do something, I try to do it right, but looking back at that period, not by design, but other areas of my life started to suffer a lack of attention over the those years. My family didn't get the attention that they needed, the same could be said of the house and all the involvement that I was doing started to add up and affect the family finances. I was becoming a one trick pony and it dominated our lives. Other interests were forgotten as time simply didn’t allow such luxuries as my new involvement demanded the hours week in, week out. My feeling of who I was became more and more linked in my head with who I was in the organisation. You can use as many phrases as you wish, all my eggs in one basket could be one, but if you think of my life as a whole, my guitar only had one string. It played the same song month after month and it had little joy as time passed.
Move forward a number of years, and our involvement with the football club came to an end. For me, as I had literally put hundreds of hours into this, the ending of this relationship had an effect on me. Cut that string and what else did I have left ? In reality, I had my family, job and home, so it may sound a little dramatic, but my feelings about who I was at that time were very strange, a feeling of being quite lost, now what do I do with my life ? There was now time to do things, but what ? I had been moaning about my lack of time to do things for years, I now, had it by the bucket full. In a small way during those years I was a somebody, I quickly felt like a nobody again.
Being me, I needed something else to throw myself into and so started listening to many podcasts and then moving onto audiobooks. They had a major positive effect on my as I started to slowly fill the void in my life. I started to concentrate more on the key parts of my and I think most people lives , my family and simple things like a meal out with the family or a gathering at home became very important to me. Then as funds allowed, we started an ongoing renovation of the house as we tried to catch up on the ignored maintenance of the previous years and then move it forward to create a warm family home that we could enjoy and grow in. This is very much still work in progress.
Other areas of my life started to grow such as going to football just for the fun of it and without the stress of the responsibilities of being involved in a club. My better half bought me a good camera so I started to take photos again, something that was very important to me 30 years ago. I even started to follow cricket again as I did as a kid. I found myself drifting back to things I had enjoyed years ago and they were starting to become important parts of my future. What did you enjoy doing years ago ? why don’t you do it now ? Did you sing and dance ? do you now ?
One thing I am being strict with myself now is not to allow any one area of my life to dominate me. Never again will I be 100% in on one thing and then vulnerable to having that string being cut again and I drift away into a lost world. It is so easy to go all in, but I have to control myself a little and use my time for fun in a number of areas of my life.
I now have many areas of my life that are important. Some naturally such as my family are far more important than others, but in areas like photography, football and even some writing, I feel that I now have many more strings to my guitar. If one gets cut, then I doubt my life would self implode as it nearly did a few years ago, a truly horrible feeling. A balanced life is what I am constantly working towards and progress is being made. Every day now has a different song.
I feel now that to if I do positive things in my life, that will have a positive effect on me, my family , our future and maybe anybody else who has any interest in my life and what I do with it. This is where simplicity and minimalism are coming into play. I am removing things and areas of my life that bring no joy nor have a reason for keeping. For me now it is more about experiences than things, but having spent 50 years getting to this quantity of things around me, it can't all be resolved in a few months. I also get joy from hearing how people that I know are getting into their own personal sorting out of their surroundings and accumulated stuff.
How many strings do you have on your guitar ? Do you need to add new areas to your life to become a broader and better balanced person ? Make the most of your life, go dance today.