Having been through the pandemic and its associated lockdowns (and we aren’t in the clear from them just yet!) many of us have had some extra time to think about where we are, and where we would like to be. The outcome is that a lot of us realised we want to live a more joyful and fulfilling life.
Sound selfish when there are people in the world struggling for every bite of food they eat? I don’t think so. One person’s more fulfilling lifestyle might include volunteering at a shelter, a soup kitchen, or a food bank, or even taking a 6 month sabbatical to go to a developing country to dig latrines. Fulfilment is all about personal choice, after all – we don’t all crave Ferraris and Gucci bags to feel like we have wrung all the juice out of life. In fact, many of us could do with decluttering our lives a little, not to mention our minds!
The upshot is, we all have one life (as far as I know) and it’s probably not a bad idea to enjoy as much of it as we can!
Work, family, various extra-curricular and social commitments can all add up to a full and draining calendar, and it may seem impossible to find time for yourself or your hobbies, or the things you think might really push your life in a different direction. I’m talking about going back to college to study for a different career, learning a language to prepare for retiring abroad, spending time travelling, or even trying out a series of little hobbies that make you feel like life is that little bit richer.
If you are pushed for a gap in your schedule to create some lifestyle changes, there are still plenty of ways to make the most of the spare time you do have.
We’ve got five tiny and manageable tips to help you live a more fulfilling life and feel happier with your busy schedule right here:
1) We all need time for ourselves- it is so important to take a little time every day for something you find nourishing. It could be ten minutes of meditation, spending time on a cherished hobby, taking care of your houseplants, baking bread, pottering in the garden, or even sitting with a cup of tea and your journal. I find the important thing is that this slot is regular, and isn’t spent on an activity that takes too much concentration. During this time, your brain has a moment to decompress, to unwind a little from everything else it has to deal with being thrown at it all day. This is an easy way to get some self-love in without taking too much time out from work or chores around the house. You might find that practicing this time-out gives your brain the space it needs for inspirational thoughts.
2) Invest in your hobbies, no matter how small they may seem- this investment could be time or money, or energy. For instance, running doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby- a pair of trainers and some PE kit is all you need to start, but as you grow more serious, you might invest in things to enhance the experience. Perhaps gloves and a hat for cold weather, more technical trainers, specialist socks, or even a pedicure for those tired feet! An investment in a mini greenhouse will give a budding gardener so much scope to grow the number of seedlings grown for spring, it will enhance the experience through the whole growing season. This ranges right up to investing in a qualification that could change your life significantly, re-training in another career, or to start a side hustle as a bookkeeper, for example.
3) Learn something new every day, even if it’s just a few words in another language. I use Duolingo for this very purpose! I don’t have the time for a full on language course right now, but I can easily find five minutes a day to learn a little. And by learning a little every day, you build on your knowledge base exponentially. I feel like I have learned more than when I have previously taken language classes, and because I practice it daily, it is sticking better than a weekly class where all of last week’s knowledge gets buried under everything else that has happened since. Again, this could be on any topic, not just language learning. You could look up a new word in your own language, or pick a topic you know very little about and commit to learning one additional fact about it every day. The point is more that learning expands our horizons, and the more we practice learning, the better we can see the world around us.
4) Say no – it’s a complete sentence. Now this is a harder one!! Most of us have done something that feels like an obligation rather than a choice, be it sitting on a PTA committee or attending work drinks because you think you should be ‘seen’ to do so. If you want to feel more fulfilled, even a little, these obligations have got to go. This needs to be handled delicately, but if you have a feeling of dread around any obligations, it’s probably a sign that they aren’t enriching your life any! Of course some things you might chose to continue because, for instance, you want your children to feel supported by you sitting on the PTA committee, but if there’s no justification balancing out that obligation, there will always be a way to reclaim that time commitment.
5) Give back by volunteering – you might just make a new friend! If you have said no to something that doesn’t fulfil you, this is a perfect time to find something that does. Volunteering can take a million forms these days, from spending a few hours helping in a charity shop to joining a committee to raise money for your favourite charity. Every cause is looking for any help available, be it a couple of hours or a couple of pounds, or some useful knowledge or contacts you may have. My parents have volunteered at the same charity shop for over 20 years and have made a huge circle of friends as a result, not to mention all the good work they have done.
So there you have it, a brief guide to taking your first steps on the journey to feeling a little more fulfilled.