I Need Some Me Time
Like many recent graduates, I absolutely love leisure time. After years of committing myself to school, athletics, extracurricular activities and more, I developed an appreciation of “me time”. In years past, I wanted my personal time to resemble my priorities as little as possible. Deciphering the end of Inception (I think the token started to wobble), or re-watching the Matrix Trilogy usually did the trick…until recently.
About a month ago, I met up with some friends to grab dinner & discuss career growth. After the food came out, Emeka C. Anen and I broke off into our own side conversation. The part of that conversation that stuck out to me the most went something like this:
Emeka: So how do you spend your free time – at home, on the train, the drive to work, in airports?
Me: Usually just listening to music, watching movies, chilling.
Me: ……Uh…You know….
Such a simple, one word question left me dumbfounded.
After about a 10 second blend of of silence and meaningless filler words, Emeka continued about the value of building your knowledge bank, even outside of work. His main point was not that I should be obsessive and forgo my usual leisure activities; rather, he just wanted to make me aware that I might be missing out on an opportunity to grow.
While I had already read some books he thought would be good, he made another recommendation I had not yet adopted: podcasts. These audible stories & interviews could be consumed on my time, on the go, and there were some really good ones, like StartUp Podcast and of10podcast, he thought I would like.
Soooo Yea, He Was Right
To say I enjoyed his recommendations would be an understatement. I listened to one and a half seasons of Startup in two days. I just started of10podcast on 2x speed so I can get through it as quickly as possible, and I’m currently looking for channels similar to these two (suggestions welcome).
While I’m still new to podcasts, my experiences have taught me a couple lessons:
1. Relaxation ≠ a lack of mental activity
Part of the reason I watched movies and listened to music during my free time was that those activities felt like the only way to spend time without strenuous physical or mental effort. While my choice of movies and music do require some work to fully understand, podcasts have reinforced the idea that relaxation & mental stimulation can coexist. In fact, I think both are best when served together.
2. Being strategic about my free time makes me appreciate leisure activities even more
I still go to movies and I still listen to music, just a little bit less. While these activities are still necessary for me, they are no longer sufficient for how I spend my free time. The ROI of a couple episodes of podcasts is exponential, not linear. Therefore, I can listen to one episode here, another episode there, and still make time for the other things I enjoy.
3. I love learning. I love stories. I love new perspectives.
A lot of cool people have done a lot of cool things and have learned a lot of cool stuff from those experiences. Learning from those stories better prepares me for my challenges, and better informs the advice I give others about the struggles they face. The more I listen, the more commonalities and connections I see, and thus the more perspectives I can add to a conversation.
Finding What You Love to Learn
I look forward to learning more, and I recognize that podcasts are just one of the platforms that enable me to do that. I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions, but I think my recent experiences qualify somewhat for #newyearnewme. With my reinvigorated appreciation of learning, I can finally make sense of what people mean when they say things like “become a lifetime learner” or “be a lover of learning”. Usually, they mean this:
Find the people, stories, places, events, and activities that make you a better you. Then, find them again.
The stories you love and connect with can, and will be different than mine– that’s ok. Be true to yourself, dig deep to find out what resonates with you, surround yourself with people who can help you grow, and I believe you will be satisfied with what you learn. And after you do all of that, the best part is that it will feel so natural, you won’t even realize you’re learning.
About the Author
Wade G. Morgan is a keynote speaker and member of LinkedIn’s Business Leadership Program, a rotational program for early-in-career talent. He is passionate about leadership, athletics, entrepreneurship, and tech, and loves helping people and organizations reach their potential.
This article also appears on LinkedIn and is published here with the permission of the author