According to a recent Time/CNN poll, close to 65 percent of us spend much of our so-called leisure time doing things we'd rather not do. That is a staggering statistic, especially when you consider the incredible number of options that are available to us today.
I think there are two reasons a lot of us aren't doing the things we really want to do. First of all, many of us don't know what those things are.
When I think back to my hectic lifestyle, I have to admit that one of the reasons I allowed my life to continue to be so complicated is that I hadn't slowed down enough in recent years to figure out what I wanted to do, not only in terms of my work life, but in terms of a lot of my personal choices.
I knew the basic things: I knew my husband, and family, and special friends were important. I knew that for me, spending time in nature was important. I knew maintaining my health with exercise and an appropriate diet were important.
But there were other areas, such as my life's work and many social and leisure activities, I just sort of drifted along with because it was easier than taking the time to come up with alternatives.
For any number of reasons we lose sight of what we want to do. Perhaps we weren't encouraged as children to make our own decisions.
Or maybe we have easygoing, compliant personalities and have gone along with what other people have wanted to do, or have wanted us to do, for so long that we've forgotten what's important to us.
Or perhaps we never allowed ourselves to believe that doing the things we enjoy is even a possibility for us.
If you've spent a lot of years not knowing what you really want to do, either in terms of your career or in terms of your personal, social, civic, or family life, it can seem like an impossible task to stop what you've been doing--or at least slow down for a bit--and figure it out. It often seems easier to keep on doing things we don't want to do.
Secondly, what we want to do can often be difficult to do.
For example, if your deep, dark, hidden desire is to write the great American novel, it would seemingly require a major disruption in your life to arrange things so you could even get started on it. Often it's easier to continue doing things you almost want to do, or don't mind doing.
So our lives get frittered away by a social engagement here, a luncheon there, an evening of television here, or the habit of working evenings or weekends or both on projects that we don't have all that much interest in. And the things we really want to do, in our heart of hearts, get put on the back burner.
One of the things simplifying your life will do is free up time for you to figure out what really matters to you, and then enable you to arrange your time so you can do it.