What do you do for yourself?

Now, I should probably back up and explain how my doctor got to this question. It was preceded by this series of queries:

  • “What do you do for a living?” Well, I work in advertising.
  • “What time do you get to work?” I’ve been trying to get to the office between 7:30 and 8:00.
  • “What time do you leave?” Lately I’ve been leaving around 6:00ish.
  • “That’s a 10-hour day.” Yes, it is.
  • “What are you doing when you leave here?” I’ve got some work to get done, since I left early.

And then she paused before asking the big one…”What do you do for yourself? Painting? Spending time with friends? Bowling? Do you do anything?”

Well, I try.

The true fact is, she hit on a question I’ve been asking myself for months. While it’s not like I work every single hour of the day, when I’m not doing work, I’m probably thinking about work. I don’t do a lot for fun or inspiration. When I get home at 6:30 or later, the last thing I want to do is go out again. The boy and I usually just make dinner and then we settle in for some time in front of the tube before heading to bed. Not exactly the most thrilling of lives.

Now, I know why she asked the question – I fully understand that doing something for yourself, outside of work, is good for your personal life and your career. If I had something else to focus on, even if it’s just for a few hours a week, I think it would help. After all, I do fear the dreaded b-word – burnout – just as much as the next person.

The last few weekends, we’ve been trying to get out of the apartment and do something fun one day and then chill out the other day. A few weeks ago, we went to the Minneapolis Science Museum. Last week, we went to see a movie. I’ve been trying to go to yoga or cardio kickboxing at least once a week. It’s a start, but there’s still a ways to go.

We’re in the process of moving a little ways out of the city and I’m thinking it might be a prime opportunity to get back to some of the things that used to get me excited – volunteering with FFA and 4-H. Since we’ll be in a smaller town, I’m also looking forward to potentially finding some community causes that I can get involved with. While being in a more rural area can mean less access to activity options, I think there will be more options for things that I’m interested in.

What are other ideas for activities to get involved with in a smallerĀ  community? How do you keep life from becoming all about work? I know it’s something young professionals struggle with just as much as anyone, since we’re still trying to “prove ourselves”, but for long-term happiness (and sanity) it’s something I want to start setting time aside for now.

Winter blues…be gone!

As I tweeted earlier today, “If you want to see the happiness of an entire state increase exponentially, visit Minnesota today.” And wasn’t it the truth?!

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What better way to greet flip-flop season than with a brightly colored pedicure?!

While most Minnesotans have learned how to adjust to and enjoy winter (after all, the state is buried under multiple inches of snow for half the year and often faces temperatures where it’s too cold to snow), there’s nothing that makes the citizens of my adopted state happier than 65+ degrees and sunshine. I spent both lunch and happy hour yesterday outside, where restaurant patios everywhere were packed with people just yearning to get some fresh air. Today was another 70-degree day, so I took advantage of things I haven’t been able to do since last fall:

  • Dug capri’s out of my summer clothes box
  • Got a pedicure (after all, it’s now flip-flop season)
  • Parked super far from Target so I could actually walk to the store
  • Went through the car wash (no more salt splatter – woot!)
  • Sat on my balcony
  • Went for a 45-minute walk to parts of my neighborhood I didn’t know existed

My attitude definitely appreciated the warm-up and Vitamin D – now here’s to hoping Mother Nature doesn’t get too crazy and renege on all of this wonderfulness!

Let’s get creative

Would you describe yourself as “creative”? On most days, I wouldn’t. I’m pretty type A, can’t draw and have no eye for colors. I am a pretty good writer, but beyond that, I usually say there isn’t another creative bone in my body.

Which is why it’s pretty lucky I got to hear a great speaker on Thursday.

Last week I attended the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) annual conference and got to hear from Josh Linkner, a best-selling author/entrepreneur/venture capitalist (and fellow Michigander!), on the topic of creativity in business. Here’s some of my biggest takeaways from his presentation:

  • I’m not the only one. Josh referenced a university study which surveyed kindergarteners and found that 98% described themselves as creative. The same study then surveyed high school seniors and found that only 2% describe themselves as such. That means that roughly 98% of adults (including me) don’t think they are creative – but that doesn’t mean they’re right.
  • Creativity is a hot commodity. When 1500 CEOs from across 32 countries were polled, creativity was the single-most important leadership attribute cited. That means, even though most adults don’t feel creative, it’s something that more people should embrace to succeed.
  • Your title doesn’t define your level of creativity. Most people probably wouldn’t describe an accountant as creative. Those people must have never heard of Enron.
  • Everyone can embrace their inner creativity. Josh led a breakout session after his keynote address and he showed us some interactive ways to drive creative ideas when helping our clients. I’ll share my favorites in a later blog post, but suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to trying some of these out with my co-workers!

Every now and then I need a reminder that creativity isn’t limited to being artistic, and Josh’s message hit at just the right time. Do you have any other tricks for improving creativity or stepping outside the norm?

Getting my butt back in gear…

Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I’ve done any blogging. Well, actually I can believe it. Things have been so crazy over the last 12 months that it doesn’t really surprise me one bit that I haven’t sat down to write anything in ages. Over the past few months, it’s crossed my mind, though. So, I’m getting my butt back in gear and I’m going to try writing some more. I’ll talk about all the insanity that has been life (good insanity, of course), but for today, I’m just getting the first words on the screen. Here we go again…