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Leadership Thought #210 – What Are Your Outlets in Life?

September 7, 2011

Free Four Person Standing at Top of Grassy Mountain Stock Photo

We all need outlets in life – things that allow us to escape within ourselves.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday living, it’s important to have things you do just for yourself.  We all need outlets for our mental, physical, and emotional stress and catalysts for our personal well-being.  We also need to remember not to wander too far away from our true self.   It is easy to lose your individuality and identity as you age and take on additional responsibilities in life.  There are many times where there just do not seem to be enough hours in a day.   We spend so much time doing what we must do or think we should do that there is little time to decompress and just be ourselves.  Then one day, we wake up and wonder what happened.

The following list of recommended outlets is not meant to be exhaustive but to stimulate thought and action:

  • Focus on your fitness and health, especially if this is a problem area for you – everyday living is much more difficult if you are unhealthy
  • Expand your mind by taking classes and/or reading books, magazines and journals on topics that interest you – never stop learning
  • Take up a hobby or better cultivate one you already have – hobbies are the adult form of play and tend to make us happy
  • Volunteer your time and money for charity that matters to you – helping others is always good therapy for your soul and offers much needed perspective on your own life
  • Make time for the Arts and appreciate the wonderful talent and creativity that exists in this world – it’s good to spend time on right brain activity and lose yourself in the spirit of the moment
  • Pursue a spiritual/religious path that resonates well with you – we all struggle with the deeper question about life and should embrace rather than resist these issues
  • Deepen rather than just broaden your friendships and relationships (but don’t let this circle get too small) – having people in your inner circle who genuinely care about you as a person makes an enormous difference in your ability to weather the inevitable ups and downs of life

Of course, it is important to make your family life a priority but do not allow it to become all-encompassing and solely define who you are as a person. Similarly, your work, while certainly critical to your identity, shouldn’t become too important and limit your potential for growth in other areas.  People are multidimensional.  There is always more to us than meets the eye.  We all need multiple outlets to explore who we are as a person and uncover what truly makes us happy.

To paraphrase the great poet David Whyte, “Don’t allow other people or circumstances to define you in ways that are too small for you to live.”