Here are a few thoughts about the value of creating experiences and activities outside of the workplace.
Growing Up In Derby And Wichita
I grew up in Derby and Wichita, Kansas. When I was young, I learned how to work hard and save up for the objects that I desired. Fancy cars, motorcycles, and ATVs were some of the later youth goals. Originally, I saved up for fancy bicycles and parts by pulling weeds, running the rototiller, mowing lawns, and picking up work wherever an under-age kid could.
Looking back, I must have been passionate about the objects I was saving up for. Once I was old enough, I attended high school full-time and I worked another 20-30-hours a week in the evenings and on the weekends.
The Materialistic Culture I Knew Growing Up
Having grown up in Wichita, I think many young people understand the desire to purchase objects like I did. We were surrounded by prairie, our lakes were not clear and sandy. We didn’t have mountains or clean rivers to white water raft down. Outdoors activities were not as readily available as in other places. As a result, we spent weekend nights cruising Seneca. We met our friends at the Starlight Drive In. Many attended high school events and rallies. It seemed like everything we did outside of the workplace in Wichita revolved around our transportation in one way or another.
I’m not saying that there was nothing active to do at home. I am saying that the activities and experiences people engaged in varied widely. There was not a city-wide culture revolving around a few activities, so the experiences that people enjoy vary much more than that of a ski town or beach town. Places where nearly everyone in the community is passionately involved with the same activity.
As a result of the varying activities and wide-spread footprint of the Wichita metro area, The culture of working hard to buy nice stuff influences us long before we are able to work or drive.
Objects Never Made Me Happy
I’m not saying that owning nice stuff is bad. I just think I made it too high of a priority in my personal life growing up. Fortunately, most of the things I worked for were used for a fun activity like riding ATVs at the Sand Dunes or traveling the Midwest and South putting on motorcycle stunt-riding shows. Unfortunately, I didn’t yet value experiences and travel like I would eventually.
My high school jobs paid pretty well for the time. I drove the coolest car in school. I was the only student at SouthEast to ride a motorcycle, and it was a fast one. Still, none of the things I bought ever made me genuinely happy. Well, over time, riding motorcycles did.
I was a bit depressed growing up and I believed for a long time that the right object would bring me fulfillment. I hope most of my readers have already made the discovery that fulfillment doesn’t come from objects. They can be a nice addition to a fulfilling life, but never the reason for fulfillment.
Finding My Passion In College
After high school, I moved off to college. The nice car was rear-ended and I purchased a slightly damaged almost new car from a salvage auction. I left the car looking ugly. It drove fine and pulled a trailer with my motorcycle. That is all I needed at the time.
Needless to say, motorcycles, stunt riding, and producing videos with pro stunt riders had become my passion. Sadly, I sold my bike at the end of my last year in college and haven’t ridden a wheelie since 2006.
How did this happen? How did I give up my favorite activity for so long?
Materialistic Desires Cost Me Dearly
After college graduation, I got the itch to buy a crazy truck from Las Vegas. It was highly customized. Nothing could be put in the bed, especially not a motorcycle. The truck didn’t make me happy. I sold it a year later for a more practical 4-door subcompact car, but I no longer had a motorcycle. Sadly, adult life had begun and the motorcycle made its way lower and lower on the priorities list.
I am not the type to hold on to regrets. Giving up stunt-riding after college is one of the two things in life I would consider a regret.
Why did I give up the activity that I loved and made me the individual that I was at the time? I gave up my semi-professional career in stunt riding because I desired an object that did not bring me the fulfillment that stunt riding did. Currently, I still hope and plan on getting back into stunting, but I’m 37, married, and saving for a house we will eventually raise our children in. I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to get back into the thing that I loved.
What Is My Point?
Why am I rambling about things I’ve done and owned in the past? I hope the point is clear enough.
We work hard, all of us. Life has lots of priorities like keeping the lights on, mortgage or rent payments, vehicle maintenance, etc.etc.etc. Once we’ve got the basics handled, I hope everyone places a high priority on activities and experiences.
I promise, consistently doing the things you love or doing them with the people you care about will bring far more fulfillment into your life than upgrades for your car, fashion accessories that aren’t vital, a 75″ TV, or anything else.
Consistency Pays Off
Over time, with consistent work and saving, you will still be able to own the objects that you desire to have in your life. What I want to encourage you to do is find an activity that you or your family are passionate about. Next, invest the time and money needed to fully engage in that activity. Tell yourself to put the money you would spend on a jacket you don’t need into savings. Every time you see an object you want to spend money on, put that money into savings for your chosen activity instead.
When you are old and looking back at your life, I can’t imagine anyone regretting that they experienced the things they loved doing. However, I can imagine that most won’t remember a majority of the objects they owned or care about them.
Not only are activities and passions beneficial for one’s personal life. Being active and happy will positively impact your interactions with others at work. Being active and happy will also make you more productive at work and more fulfilled in life.
Creating Experiences and Activities Outside Of The Workplace
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Post by Mike Gamache – Blogger, Entrepreneur