There are a few things I do every day, and most of them pertain to keeping me alive and healthy: eat, bathe, drink water, take my prescribed medications, and sleep. Lately I’ve been enjoying journaling every morning while I drink my first cup of coffee. For the past two years I’ve done something, no matter how small, nearly every day to rehab my right knee.
Other than that, my daily activities vary, even my true passions and beloved hobbies.
Oh how dare I not sit my butt at my desk every day and pound out a precious word count like everyone in the #writingcommunity says I should. How could I at least not walk through my forms or do slow-motion kicks or conditioning on the days I don’t have a taekwondo lesson? The horror! I’ve recently rekindled my hobby of playing classical guitar and started playing ukelele a few months ago. I love it, but I don’t do it every day. Oh no!
Here’s the thing: I can hustle and grind like anyone else, but I also tend to lean toward mania and obsession, and I’ve learned through unpleasant experience that I can burn out quickly. I also know there are certain times of year where I lean toward depression, and I have to scale back my activities. Through my eating disorder recovery, I’ve learned that obsessively tracking things, whether it’s my weight or my word count, is damaging and unhealthy.
But I don’t want to use my mental illnesses as the only reason why I vary my day and don’t stick to a regimented routine for the things I supposedly love to spend my time doing. Routine makes it boring and frustrating, and forced work when I’m really really not feeling it makes my performance worse.
Lately I’ve seen dozens of articles about “quiet quitting,” which just seems to be employees doing their regular work within the hours they are paid to do it. Our culture has been so steeped in a hustle/grind/obsess mentality that it can’t see healthy boundaries and work-life balance when it’s slapping them in the face.
Can we not apply the concept of work-life balance to our hobbies and passions too? I love writing. I love taekwondo. I love playing music. But I don’t feel like doing them every day, and that’s okay. I shouldn’t feel bad about it. I do have a job and a relationship and a house to maintain, and they all take some time from my day.
Yes, sometimes I need to “make” myself work to get in a good groove (I highly recommend the Pomodoro Method for getting into the flow of work. I even bought a little tomato timer). And I also have the rest of my life to live. Sometimes I don’t feel inspired to write. Sometimes I’d rather do yoga or take a walk than do taekwondo. Sometimes I’m too busy to practice my instruments.
Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I’m more eager to work on my projects when I’ve taken a little time away.
And that’s okay.
Keep up your passion and your discipline, but when you obsess and make yourself miserable over how often you’re doing it, you’re on the road to burnout.