Why Life Is So Much More Than a Paycheck

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Photo courtesy of Colton Witt

I recently jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon; it was inevitable, really. As a fan of other epic fantasy works, like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, I was surprised to find there was a whole unexplored mythology from the mind of writer George R. R. Martin that covered a disturbingly gritty place unlike other fantasy worlds. After watching the first season of the excellent HBO TV series, I delved right into Martin’s books. For those who aren’t familiar with the Song of Ice and Fire series, these books (or which A Game of Thrones is the first) are huge, sometimes spanning over a thousand pages, so I was aware that they were going to cut into my already busy schedule quite a bit.

After reading through a hundred or so pages of the first book, I realized I was hooked. I’d become so drawn into Martin’s writing – the despicable characters and harsh, bloody settings – that I was trying to find little pockets of time here and there between working hours to fit in extra reading sessions. I also couldn’t stop telling people about it. It was probably quite annoying, but I wanted to share how thrilling the journey had been for me so far. I told my friends and siblings—basically, anybody I knew to have a preexisting interest in large fantasy works.

When I told one of my closest friends about the TV show and books, he was clearly excited by the concept and said that it reminded him of when he was a child and read the entire Lord of the Rings series. Because of this interest, I offered to loan him one of the Game of Thrones books, and his expression suddenly changed. “I could never get into this – how would I get anything else done?” he told me. After thinking about this for a moment, I asked him if he was reading anything else at the moment, or tuning in to watch a TV show on a regular basis. He admitted that he used to do these things, but that his work was now taking up too much of his time, and when he returns home from work each evening, he’s too tired to focus on anything.

For me, this was a bit of an eye-opener. My friend was basically denying himself things he agreed he would enjoy simply because of his work schedule. In addition, he thought that if he found something he truly enjoyed, he wouldn’t have the restraint to plan his work hours around it. I think a lot of people have this view of things that are deemed “less important” than making a living. They neglect small pleasures because they are too focused on working, and can’t find the time to enjoy themselves. I’m not saying that people should cut back on work in order to have fun, but with a little forethought there is room for both.

People spend plenty of time scheduling their work lives so that any time that is left over for personal things like reading a book or going for a mountain hike gets almost no thought at all. Planning out your personal time with as much detail as you use to plan out your work hours could offer you far more fulfilling opportunities in the future. Life is not all about working to make a living, so make use of the little spaces in-between.

If you gave yourself more time to indulge in a personal hobby, what activity would you choose?

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