My name is Anna, and I’m a do-aholic. What to do when you many interests? Admitting it is the first step on the road to recovery, I believe? I want to read 50 books a year, learn Japanese and Italian while working on my Spanish and German, go to conferences, work in luxury and do pro bono work, travel to at least two new countries every year while enjoying London, go on secret adventures and play softball with NGOs, go to the Globe midnight matinee and run the Stockholm half-marathon, spend time with my niece and nephew… and, of course, do everything that’s on my bucket list. I want to do it all and I want to do it now!
I’ve clearly inherited this tendency from both my parents. My dad, though an engineering geek through and through, has broad interests beyond his professional field and amateur radio hobby with ambitions to be an avid gardener, blogger, language learner (he’s learning Japanese, Spanish, German… and also brought me a Korean phrase book the other day but even I say that’s taking it too far!)… My mum books back-to-back trips from business travel straight to see the grandkids then to Stockholm and back to work again, and she and I are constantly planning museum visits and theatre trips in any gap we find in our agendas. “Seemed a good idea at the time!” we tell ourselves as D-day approaches and we’d much rather have some time at home to catch up on things there and to simply have some breathing space.
Of course, I’m biased, but I think having so many interests and goals is a good thing, enriching your life more than long evenings in front of the telly or down the pub. People are much more attractive when they have wide-ranging interests and hobbies outside of work, when they’re open to trying new things and ambitious in their goals, whatever they may be.
But there’s a limit to how much you can squeeze in, and constant pressure to DO something can take its toll. I’m prone to killer migraines – since collapsing in the middle of my university finals – and though at first these seem to come out of the blue they can nearly always be traced back to ridiculous scheduling on my part and unreasonable expectations as to what is feasible. And yesterday it suddenly hit me that I had mixed up some dates, double booking myself and so having to spend time and money on moving things around to make it work somehow. You’d think I’d learn…
Unfortunately booking lots of things in advance also means that your calendar is full so that you end up missing out on spontaneous, last-minute invites. What a conundrum! It’s just impossible to be everywhere and do everything: “Man kann nicht auf allen Hochzeiten tanzen” as my favourite German phrase expresses, you can’t dance at every wedding (and, in fact, I missed three friends’ weddings when I was on my sabbatical in South America).
When I wrote about fitting fitness into my schedule the other day, a lot of the advice I received was to do with planning. So maybe the answer lies in planning time to do nothing? Blocking hours, days, weekends in your calendar when you don’t have a single thing booked in and you can either enjoy some real time off or else keep your diary open for spontaneous frolicking.
Of course, having put a purple box in my diary doesn’t make it any easier to say no when those tempting offers to go and do something come along, whether it’s to go wine tasting or wolf tracking…