One of my very first blog posts was about our perpetual need as a society to be constantly “busy.” I too find myself falling into this trap. I have this ridiculous need to be productive all the time. I am always looking for things to do and struggle with quite a bit of guilt if I find myself doing something that isn’t directly getting me closer to my goals.
As most of you are probably aware, I have a podcast obsession. I listen to at least two every day. I listen in the car, while I get ready for work, while I cook and even more recently at the gym. I have a collection of favourites that upload regularly but on occasion I will step outside the health world and listen to something a bit different. Recently I have been listening to a string of inspiring entrepreneurs share their stories. Their depth of knowledge, understanding, perseverance, resilience and passion is so inspirational to me. Sarah Holloway hosts a podcast called “Seize the Yay” where she interviews entrepreneurial geniuses (like herself). She does an excellent job of exploring how they got be where they are now, the struggles they faced along the way and what they do in their lives to just “yay” or “play.”
“Busy and happy are not the same thing. We too really question what makes the heart sing. We work then we rest, but rarely we play and often don’t realise there is more than one way. So this is a platform to hear and explore, the stories of those who found lives they adore. The good, bad and ugly. The best and worst days. We’ll bare all the facets of seizing your yay.” – Sarah Holloway.
I listen to “Seize the Yay” a lot… and may or may not have memorised the quote above. Way back when I was a third year law student I went to an expo in the city. In your penultimate (second last) year of law many undertake a “Clerkship” which is like work experience to get your foot into the legal profession. The best law firms in Victoria come together with their team to encourage you to sign up for their clerkship program. At this point in my degree I was already beginning to feel unsettled. I walked around with my very passionate friend (who is killing it in the legal profession at the moment I might add) and just wondered “what on earth am I doing with this degree?” There was a guest speaker at one point during the conference so I decided I would go see her. Enter Sarah Holloway. She spoke about the start of her professional career as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer and how she has now swapped from suits and heals to co-found Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar.
Sarah was the first person to open my eyes to the world of opportunity that exists outside your comfort zone. No education is wasted and even though my passion for law didn’t exist, that didn’t mean that the skills and knowledge I was acquiring at the time were worth nothing.
It was definitely the push I needed to finish my degree and pursue my passion for food and wellbeing. Towards the end of my degree I would read my law textbooks by day and in my free time binge watch cooking videos on YouTube. It was my “play time.” I would play around in the kitchen on the weekends and get back to hard-core study during the week.
Upon graduating from Law and Arts (majoring in Journalism) I thought I would use my skills to start a blog to share my experiences, recipes and knowledge. I absolutely love what I do and find it incredibly rewarding when I hear that I am helping people on their own journeys. The more positive feedback I receive the more work and time I want to put into it.
I spend hours every week reading new recipes, watching cooking tutorials, listening to health and wellness podcasts, studying nutrition fulltime, working at a physio and cooking up a storm in the kitchen to recipe test for the blog. It fills my soul with so much joy, however, activities that used to be “play” have suddenly become very productive. This isn’t always a bad thing. I feel blessed that we now have the capacity to soak in knowledge no matter what we are doing. I understand that in order to be “successful” (whatever that means to you), involves hard work, passion and discipline. I thought that all the successful entrepreneurs that I admire work all the time. While this is true, I have to say that I was unbelievably surprised that all of them make time to “play.”
Let’s take a moment to talk about “play time.” Playtime, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “a period of time, especially during school hours, when children can play outside.” Now I am assuming that everyone who reads this is done with school so we are left out of this definition. Does that mean that we don’t get time to play? Of course not! Like Sarah so eloquently puts it in her podcast, “playing” does not involve activities that are particularly useful to achieve your goals. It is something that is not particularly productive but just helps you to turn off and actually just chill out.
Getting back to Sarah Holloway’s podcast now, I find incredible value in listening to stories of those who work extremely hard at their passion but prioritise time for themselves. Whether this be having time to do a puzzle, binge-watching shows on Netflix with their partner or knitting on the couch. For those who have children their play time involves taking the kids to the park or for personal trainers their play time involves actually letting themselves enjoy a good work out. Play time looks different for everyone. Even when I reflect back on what “play time” meant in primary school for some play time was kicking the footy, for others it was swinging on the monkey bars and for me it was playing 40/40 home base.
At the end of last year I completely burnt out. I am being so conscious to ensure that it doesn’t happen again this year. I know why I burnt out now. I didn’t play. I would wake up at 5:00am, train, watch a lecture while I ate breakfast, study/work, cook dinner, meal prep for the following day and round it off by reading over my lecture slides while the TV was on in the background claiming I was “winding down.”
I didn’t have to look too far for some play inspiration. I am very blessed to have grown up in a family that has really embraced their “yay” time. My dad works ridiculously long hours and every night after we have cleaned up dinner he will park himself on his chair and mindlessly watch any footy content he can get his hands on. He just switches off (literally… he snores) and recharges for the next day without the distraction of his laptop or phone.
So I re-evaluated. For me old sitcoms and Disney movies are my “play time.” It really is the only time I completely switch off and stop thinking about what I have to do next. I will admit that sometimes as I sit down to another episode of the OC with my boyfriend I do feel guilty that I am not being productive (seriously, how is anything happening in Orange County relevant to my life??). But maybe that is the beauty of it. Maybe watching something that is so unrelatable (and addictive) is the best way for me to actually turn off.
Lastly, and I think most importantly, making time to play with those who we love is one of the most valuable things that we can do. The times that I have had the most fun have always been in the company of others. Whether it is endless karaoke in the family kitchen, walks in amazing company, having extremely competitive game nights or even just sitting for a while longer around the dinner table.
We can’t let ourselves be defined by what we do for work. We are so much more than that. We all deserve and are worthy of fun and play no matter how busy we are. Often times when we do actually prioritise some play the following day is even more productive than the one before because time has been taken to recharge and relax.
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson