Oswald Letter

How Do You Recharge Your Battery?

I hope you enjoyed a long Labor Day weekend. The passing of this national holiday signifies that summer is over. The kids are back in school and it seems like ages since your summer vacation. The pace has quickened noticeably as we move into the fall season.

So the changing of the season and the more hectic pace begs the question, “How do you recharge your battery?”

Often you hear someone say, “I love my job so much that it’s really my hobby.” It’s great when people love what they do. It’s critical that you’re passionate about your work to really be happy and successful. I’m a firm believer in what Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

But your job is not your hobby, it’s your job. I also subscribe to the “no one on their deathbed ever says ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office'” school. You need time away from work regardless of how much you enjoy it. In fact, if you don’t get away from your work, you may come to enjoy it less.

So what do you do to take your mind off work? Certainly spending time with friends and family is important and a good way to get your mind off your daily tasks. Finding a hobby you are equally passionate about can be a good thing. Maybe it’s a sport. Do you love golf or tennis? What about running or taking a class at the gym? Reading can be a great distraction, as long as you read something other than just business books that keep your mind on work. It’s hard to think about work when you’re engrossed in a great novel.

I’ve found that playing a video game with my boys can be a great distraction from work. My wife thinks I’m crazy and that it’s a waste of time, which it is. But here’s what I know. If you’re playing a video game with all the eye-hand coordination and concentration it requires, you can’t think about anything else. Want to get your mind off of something at work, play a video game with your kids for 30 minutes.

Maybe it’s not just one passion. It might be a string of hobbies. I once worked for a guy who was incredibly talented and passionate when it came to his hobbies. In the time I’ve known him, which is now approaching 20 years, he has thrown himself into a series of things outside of work. He learned to play the piano and speak Spanish, produced classical music recordings, took flying lessons and got his pilot’s license, played the Spanish guitar, acted in Shakespearean theater, and rock-climbed — all while raising three girls and running a business. He’s even been known to read this column from time to time.

I’m not advocating that you follow in his footsteps — that takes an incredible amount of energy. But my guess is that he’d tell you those hobbies all allowed him to take his very active mind off his work. And by doing so, by giving himself time away from the job, it allowed him to be more focused and passionate when he was at work.

So, I ask you again, how do you recharge your battery? What is your hobby? What is it that you can pour your energy into outside of work that is rewarding and fulfilling? You need that type of interest outside of work to refill the tank. It will make you a better person and better on the job.