How (and why!) you should make room in your life for a hobby — even if you don’t have the time

What are your hobbies?

Wait — what is that you say? You don’t have any free time? And you haven’t had a hobby since you were 10?

I had a feeling you were going to say that.

Here’s the thing: One of the best ways to guard against chronic stress and burnout over the long term is to have clearly delineated time devoted to activities you love.

I know, I know … It can feel next to impossible to find the time and space for this when you have a super crazy work schedule, young children, hectic weekends, etc.

But whenever you hear yourself saying “I don’t have time,” I want you to pause. Saying “I don’t have time” has likely become an automatic response for you — a way of protecting against MORE stress showing up your life.

I’m talking about adding something that is pure fun and relaxation. Not something you ‘should’ do. Not something your mom or your spouse or your coworker wants you to do.

So let’s see about how we can make this happen for you.

Getting into a new mindset

Instead of, “I don’t have time,” ask yourself, “How can I make this happen?”

One very cool thing about the brain is it LOVES finding answers to questions. Ask it a question, and it will get right on it.

That’s why when you ask it things like “Why am I so hopeless at keeping up with my notes?” it will give you a dozen answers to support the belief that you’re hopeless (“Because you are bad at managing time,” “Because no one in the world could possibly keep up with this ridiculous workload,” “Because you write too much”). These answers fuel the underlying limiting belief and so you go on believing it. It’s a death spiral.

Flipping a negative question/belief or closed-off statement to something that seeks a solution is a way to get your brain thinking more creatively. “Why am I so hopeless at keeping up with my notes?” becomes “How can I keep up with my notes better?” and “I don’t have time” becomes “How can I make this happen?”

Your brain will get on it. I promise you. If you give it some space, and trust that there are pockets of time or things you could let go of to make room for something more enjoyable, you’ll be surprised at what your brain comes up with.

Reconnecting with what recharges you

You might have a hobby or activity waiting in the wings: reading, journaling, art, an exercise class or routine. If you do, start gathering specifics so that it can start to become a reality. If reading is your jam, make a list of books to read, and get on the waitlist for some library e-copies. Make a plan to pick up hard copies of books that are available or order a couple on Amazon. The more small actions you take to support your goal, the more likely it is that it will happen. Once the book is sitting on your phone or your nightstand and the three-week window is counting down, you’re more likely to fit in time to read.

A lot of my clients lost track of their leisure lives in medical school or grad school and have yet to get them back. So if you can’t even remember what you like to do, think about what you enjoyed doing when you were a kid. Crafts? Whizzing down a steep hill on a bike? Writing short stories? Kids have such a natural way of connecting with themselves and knowing what they love.

Go with what comes up right away and see where it takes you. Whenever your mind tries to throw a roadblock at you around lack of time or how much this is going to impede on your family, acknowledge the roadblock and let it go. “I know it’s not easy to make this happen, but I want to figure it out. How can I figure it out?”

If you’ve got NOTHING, spend 10 minutes making a list of things that your friends and family like to do with their free time. Don’t take your pen off the paper or your fingers off the keyboard. Just write a massive list of every activity and hobby you can think of. Something will grab your interest. It may involve some reading or practice or prep, but that’s ok.

I’d love to hear what hobby you’re going to pursue! Shoot me an e-mail and let me know.

Also: For a great read on real-life creativity, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and the accompanying two-season podcast, Magic Lessons. Not affiliate links — I just love the book and podcast!