The Enjoyment Audit
I really love to read. I love sitting on the beach enthralled in a novel. And I love cozying up on the couch with a glass of wine and my latest how-to book on personal finance. I feel good when I read and I like talking about books once I have finished them. So with all this love of reading, why on earth do I not read more?!!
We all have a list of things we enjoy doing, it could be spending time with family, or writing, or travelling, or running, the list goes on. And yet, when I think back on last week, or the week before, how much time did we dedicate to those things we love doing? When I look at my calendar, I see work tasks, appointments, and workouts. I don’t see time booked in for calling my sister or reading on the couch with a glass of pinot. And I bet you that your calendar looks the same. So why do we have these activities we so enjoy doing, and yet do so little of?
The Age-Old Excuse
Chances are, you are probably thinking, “I would do more of those things I love, I just don’t have enough time!” Well here is the issue with that excuse, WE ALL HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF HOURS IN A DAY. Say it louder for the people in the back, we all function with the same number of hours. Not to say your life is not busy, but I think that “busy” excuse only works if you really think that you are not responsible for the decisions that shape your life.
When I realized that I technically did have enough time in my day to do the things I enjoy, it made me feel anxious rather than relieved. If I could make the time, why wasn’t I?
Check Your Priorities
I feel a pressure to enjoy the “right” things. What I mean is that when I am asked what activities I enjoy, I feel good telling people that I love hiking and reading, and not so good when I say I like scrolling on instagram. There is this assumption that we should all enjoy travelling the world and yoga, and that we should try to do those things more. But what about those of us who, whether we like yoga or not, also really just enjoy ordering a pizza and watching Gilmore Girls? My point is that sometimes we have to realize what actually brings us joy, instead of focusing on what we think *should* bring us joy.
The Enjoyment Audit
I created a little “Enjoyment Audit” where you look at the things you enjoy doing and you look at your weekly life, and you ask yourself these three questions:
- Is this activity something I could schedule into my weekly life?
- What would I be sacrificing to include this activity into my week?
- Is this activity worth the sacrifice?
Question 1 is really important because some activities can’t be done on a weekly basis in your normal routine. Travel, for example is something that you would approach differently in the audit. For travelling you would have to look at the other experiences you would be sacrificing for weeks or months to save the money and book the time off.
Some activities totally fit in my audit. For example, I have been loving doing yoga in the mornings and I wasn’t doing it as much as I liked, so I had to look at whether I could fit it into my week, yes. And what I would be sacrificing: extra 20 minutes of sleep. And whether the enjoyment of morning yoga was worth it: yes (most mornings anyways!)
But what if you realize the things you thought you enjoyed so much don’t pass the audit? I have thought about when I could put reading into my schedule and I have wavered many times on switching my evening Netflix with a book, and to be honest, at this point in my life the book is not winning. And maybe that means I don’t love reading as much as I thought I did, or maybe it just means that snuggling on the couch next to my boyfriend and watching a movie or chatting about our day is currently what brings me the most enjoyment. And that is okay. It is more than okay.
Happiness is Not One Size Fits All
This blog post is not designed to make you shrug and say, “awesome, now I can watch more Netflix without feeling guilty”. I still try to fit reading into my life whenever possible and I still try to mitigate how often I scroll through instagram. But what the enjoyment audit did for me was make me realize that I am in charge of how I allot my time. And it forced me to be honest about what brings me enjoyment.
Cleaning my house, spending time with people I care about, cooking dinner with Gilmore Girls on in the background, working towards my goals, my morning coffee, these things may not sound like much, but they bring me a lot of joy – real joy.
I hope you take a few moments today to think about what really brings you joy and how you can bring more of it into your life, after all, isn’t that the whole point?