Now, before I begin, I realize that extra-curricular usually refers to those activities outside of school hours but let’s just say that, for the purposes of this discussion, I’m talking about those things that we do, other than the necessities like grocery shopping etc., that lie outside the scope of our work. Wow – that was a long sentence! But I’m kind of the run-on queen so I’m running with it. Ha! Get it?
We can begin engaging in an activity for many reasons. We think it will be fun. We can see the skills we’d learn as being useful. We have the opportunity to contribute to our communities. We like the people we’d be working with. A friend or family member thought it would be a good idea. I’ve done it for all of these reasons and probably more.
As the months and years go by, however, we need to take to the time to evaluate whether these activities are honestly advancing our lives or our work. We start something for one reason and we can stay in it for another and, if we don’t reflect periodically, we can find ourselves more involved in these other efforts than we are with our own process of creation.
I had someone challenge me recently. She asked me about the things that I really loved. And then she asked why only one of my extra-curricular activities had anything to do with those things. Why was I still engaging in activities that, while fun and beneficial in the beginning, had perhaps run their course and weren’t serving me anymore? And why wasn’t I connecting with more people and organizations that could actually help my career?
There is certainly room for diversity in life. If you are a writer, it doesn’t mean that every single club you belong to or contribution you make has to be about writing. If nothing else, we need to have a rich experience to fuel our creative inspiration.
But there are only so many hours in the day and we only have so much energy to expend so it behooves us to use that time and energy as effectively as possible.
So, I invite you to look at your extra-curriculars and decide what’s actually working for you and what isn’t and consider that it might be time to let something go. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself.
- Do I still enjoy this activity? You might just be doing it out of habit or obligation.
- Does this activity assist me in my career or life purpose? Does it further what I’m here to do?
- What I am I getting out of this activity? Sometimes we can continue doing something because we receive validation or we like the people even though the activity itself doesn’t appeal anymore. Is there a better way to get the benefits? If you’re in the club because you like the people, for example, you might want to just get together for coffee once in a while rather than have a structured regular event that you have to plan and prepare for.
- What would I be doing with my time if I wasn’t involved with this activity? Would you be spending more time on you craft? Is there another activity you’ve been interested in that takes place at the same time that would work better for you? If you find yourself thinking, dang, if I wasn’t doing this, I would be able to do that,that might be a clue for you.
Our time is precious. As creators, we have so much to offer. We need to ensure that the way we spend our time and energy allows us to bring the best of ourselves to the world and having our attention scattered in too many directions in not in anyone’s best interest. Make no mistake, it can be scary to say no or good-bye, particularly when we’ve been a part of something for a long time. But there a saying that people (and I’m extrapolating to things and opportunities) come into our lives for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. And if you can give yourself permission to let go of the things that no longer work, you can then fill your hours with what truly delights and inspires you. You’ll only be the better for it!