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Health & Balance

How to Get the Life You Want

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Ask yourself: Is there a passion you've abandoned because there's no room for it in your "real life"?

Photography or tennis or painting or sewing or...?

The mountain of responsibilities we take on as adults often leads us to abandon activities that once brought us joy. Maybe as a child you lived for tennis camp, but haven't picked up a racket since you had your own kids. For 42-year-old Denise Mabilog of Swedesboro, NJ, the fantasy of becoming a photographer—a dream she clung to through the time she graduated college—gave way to a challenging law career.

Why do we let go of pastimes we love? According to Fortgang, adulthood—and all that comes with it—makes us feel like we're not allowed to pursue activities just for sheer pleasure. Hobbies become indulgences that we get to enjoy after all the "important stuff" is done (and what a joke that is—how often does your to-do list get shorter?!).

Fortunately, passions are persistent—as much as you try to push 'em away, they're always there, itching to be let back into your life. As Mabilog can attest, reigniting a dream is well worth it: "I used to tell myself that photography would be a waste of time," she says. "Now I take pictures every day. I even set up a portrait studio in my basement! My life is busier than ever, but it's richer than ever, too!" Here's how to rekindle your passion.

Step 1: Give yourself permission.

When you think, I should use my time for more productive things, tell yourself that your dream activity does have a purpose—namely, to give you happiness, which will buoy you as you tackle everyday tasks, from preparing dinner to leading a meeting at work.

To make your commitment stick, get "permission" from your family, too, by explaining why you want the time. Mabilog's husband and son worried that her photography hobby would steal her away from them, but once she emphasized how passionate she was about her dream and that they wouldn't be neglected, their anxieties vanished. "When I told my 8-year-old how much my hobby meant to me, he really got it," she says. "Now, when new equipment for my studio comes in the mail, he's the first to say, 'Mom! Let's go set this stuff up!'"

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