Have you noticed lately all the articles and blogs that start with, “5 things I have learned from…” Who ever knew you could learn 5 things from eating pizza, or from your bad NCAA tournament bracket choices, or from an awards show mishap? So, today, I join the club. Today, I am highlighting 5 things I have learned from doing absolutely nothing. Yes, there are some things you can learn when you hit the pause button of your life. There is a voice that speaks to you in the silence of doing nothing. When you take the time to just think, there is an amazing number of things that run through your head. Let’s take a look at 5 key questions, and the actions that these questions can drive, when you let yourself set aside your phone, when you get away to yourself, and just listen to what comes.
Think about your life in the context of these questions when you next find yourself doing absolutely nothing:
- AM I HAVING FUN? – When you stop the carousel of your life, take a moment to think about your own happiness. Are you having fun? Or, are you just trudging through life day-by-day? Having fun is not always something that comes automatically. Sometimes you have to take intentional action to have fun. Have you taken time for yourself lately to do something you enjoy? Everyone should have at least one small indulgence each day. And, longer term, you need to plan things that bring enjoyment… an emotional break in your busy life. Certainly, responsibilities, duties, and expectations typically take precedence. However, when life gets out of balance and you never get a moment to take a breath for yourself, you are affected. Think today about when you last did something intentional to have fun for yourself. Consider when you might do it again. It is important for your own well-being.
- AM I DOING WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT? – There are times in life when we become side-tracked with our busy lives. This often occurs because we tend to say “yes” to everyone for every request. As a result, we can become tied to the ‘number’ of things we are doing without considering the ‘quality’ of those things. Is your focus in life on those things that matter most? Are you spending too much time on things that, in the end, will not matter at all? Will the things you worry so much about today even be important at all next year? In the quiet of doing nothing, think about your priorities. Do you need to shift what you do to align with what is important?
- AM I PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT I’M DOING? – Many studies have shown that people perform best at activities for which they are passionate. When your find your passion, there are not enough hours in the day to spend on it. When work becomes your passion, it is no longer called work. Too many individuals spend the best 40 years of their lives doing something they don’t really enjoy just to earn a paycheck. In the quiet of doing nothing, think about that thing or activity that gives you the most pleasure or fulfillment. Is there a way to connect that to your life’s work? One quick example… Perhaps your passion is working with others and helping others find fulfillment. Even if you don’t necessarily enjoy your own work, shift your emphasis to helping others find fulfillment. If you can expand your work to include your passion, it becomes more enjoyable and fulfilling even to you.
- AM I MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO OTHERS? – It is good to often ask this question. Are you making the world a better place for those around you? Is there a “serve” element in your life? As you listen to that voice you hear in the quiet of your do-nothing moment, consider how you can do more to matter more to those in your life. Do others miss you when you are not around? It is never too late to begin influencing others in a positive way.
- WHAT’S NEXT? – Finally, it is good to contemplate next steps in your life. What happens tomorrow, or next year, or in 5 years? Do you want to be doing what you are doing today in another 5 years? Have you reached a point that you need to do something entirely different? If so, what action do you need to take tomorrow? Things don’t necessarily happen on their own. We often have to take a step forward to get to a new place.
Sometimes it is good to just do nothing and listen to our own thoughts. And, when you do, let these questions roll around in your mind. Are you having fun? Are your priorities right? Are you passionate about what you are doing? Are others being impacted by your life? And, what is next? What do you need to do differently tomorrow?
So, there you have it… something productive to do when you do nothing. Give it a try… you might be surprised and happy with what comes of it. Have a great day!