Build Your Network

We all have things we like doing — things we don’t need to be “motivated” to do. We just do these things, and we may find it difficult to articulate the reasons for doing them because the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions and decision-making has no capacity for language. For some of us, the things that we like can be related to our work, and yet for others, it could be something we do in our downtime. During the course of our lives, most of us forget about doing these things when we get “busy” in our lives. We believe that life is all work, and we just get busy living.

Here are some reasons why we should look to rekindle some of those interests:

We start doing things we like because that’s how we make sense of the world — through our interests and where our passion meets our skills.

I’ll talk about the role of Play in our lives in a future piece, but for now just know that doing things we like is a great way to recharge ourselves. For some, it could be reading a book, listening to music, performing on stage, playing a sport, or learning about things. Whatever it is, we need to find our “outlet”. Doing so enables us to return to our work more renewed and creative, whilst increasing our ability to define and solve challenges at work. I mention this because we are oftentimes better able to solve work-related challenges in our downtime, which is when we are least thinking about it. It’s there in our subconscious, and while doing things of interest, we are better able to connect the dots in our minds. Before you know it, you’ve solved that thing in your head when you weren’t consciously thinking about it.

When things aren’t going well in your life, it’s all the more reason to do the things you like because that will sustain you through the difficult times. It also gives you something positive to look forward to in your everyday life when things around you are less than ideal.

When we find others who share the same interests as us, it helps us (and them) grow rather than plateau. Being exposed to different ideas increases our ability to think divergently and opens our mind to newer possibilities that we may not have fathomed before.

Getting connected to different people expands our personal network and increases our social capital, which we can leverage in the future, if need be.

This is particularly true for when we move to a new place, city, or country. We find like-minded people who share the same interests and values as us.

I’ll share my own example. As I’ve alluded in some of my recent essays, I have been going through a difficult time and I was looking for positives in my life. I wanted to find outlets where I could let go of myself and do the things I wanted without becoming self-conscious about it and without judging myself. I wanted to distract myself since thinking about my past wasn’t helping. I needed a diversion, so I started doing things I liked. Some of the things I did: I created a local video game group, joined a film festival, became part of a global creative community with monthly talks, started a group for watch collectors, practiced sketching via visual thinking as a way to solve business problems, advised a nonprofit organization, joined a travel group, found someone to play tennis with, and pursued workshops on self-development. Learning has always been a big part of my life and it’s been a running theme for me in all of these activities as well.

While I had been part of some of these activities for some time, I did get myself involved in newer activities in the recent past. The point is I became part of these communities because I enjoyed doing these things myself first and foremost. Plus it was a terrific way to meet others who shared the same interests, values, or even beliefs as me (which is not always the best thing).

What are some things you enjoy doing when you lose total track of time? These are things you are interested in, and which you find yourself naturally gravitating toward. When do you feel the strongest? By that I mean, what are some things that you look forward to doing? What are those things that you find yourself fully engrossed in while losing all sense of time? What are things that leave you energized after doing them? Those are the things you want to be doing. For instance, if you like painting, do that. Go to conventions/conferences for things that pique your interest.

You have to make time for doing things you like. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. Lack of time means lack of true priorities. So, if you find yourself “not having time”, chances are you have other “priorities” in your life. Something will have to give, because you can’t do it all, nor do you want to.

Doing the things we like is the lens through which we best make sense of the world. We feel strongest when doing these things. We all have things we like for a reason, and they are not coincidental. Ignore these things at your own peril, because not doing these things could mean blocking your own growth.

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