When was the last time you did something for no reason, simply because you felt like it, because you could? When did you last go for a wander with no destination in mind, or pick up a pencil to doodle for a few minutes, or make a fancy dessert just for the hell of it rather than because you had guests coming round?
Much of what we do day-to-day is undertaken with a specific goal or purpose in mind. Which is, of course, essential if we’re to achieve anything – we can’t just wander aimlessly through our lives. But too often we get caught up with the goal instead of enjoying the process in and of itself. Or better yet, doing something for no reason at all other than ‘I felt like it’.
I’m very much an achievement-orientated person, someone who loves making spreadsheets and ticking things off ‘to do’ lists. Unfortunately, this characteristic can seep into my leisure time, so that I even feel a certain amount of pressure to ‘achieve’ fun or relaxation when I’m not working, which kind of defeats the purpose.
Enjoying like a child
Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so enjoying one of the presents my husband bought me for Christmas – Wreck this journal, by Keri Smith. Each page has a random instruction such as ‘poke holes in this page using a pencil’ or ‘glue a random page from a newspaper here’. Completely pointless, and yet I’m getting such a childish sense of satisfaction from doing it!
One of the reasons I went freelance was so that I could spend more time exploring things that interest me, without having to justify the outcome to an editor. Ironically, I now find that my best ideas often come from activities I embarked on with no reason or purpose in mind. As a rather extreme example, a spur-of-the-moment ‘let’s get away from our desks’ trip to Totnes with a friend ended up with us starting our own company together! Even if it hadn’t though, it would have been a fun day out.
Next time you find yourself talking yourself out of doing something because you can think of no reason why you should do it, simply ask your inner spoil sport, ‘Why not?’ There doesn’t have to be a reason.
Do it now: Choose one of the following activities (or make up one of your own) and do it today – draw a picture and colour it in; dress up in your favourite outfit; pick some flowers; see a movie by yourself; write a poem; go on a train journey; learn the words to a new song…