According to World Bank, the average life expectancy of Americans in 2009 was 78 years old.

Given that Americans generally begin working at around 18 and retire at 65, working an average of 40 hours a week during that time, most people in the US spend 14% of their lives working — that’s almost 11 years!

Now let’s factor in some other life percentages: 33% sleep, 12% school, 1.3% using the bathroom, and sometimes up to 16% watching TV! All totaled the average American, then, only has about 25% of her life to do the things she is passionate about (although you can increase that figure to somewhere around 35% if you cut out TV).

What’s the point of all these facts and figures?

Just a simple reminder that life is short and time is precious.  We all want to be successful, but sometimes the cost of success is greater than the benefit, especially when it comes to work.

The American work-ethic is much more intense than probably anywhere else on the planet.  The terms “workaholic” and “married to my job” probably originated in America, and it’s no surprise why.  We take our work seriously.

But what are we doing with the rest of our time?

Granted, there are those perversely driven and otherwise demented individuals who work 70+ hours in a week and stop only long enough to breathe, eat, and sleep.  But the majority of us want a break, and wouldn’t work past 5pm no matter what the pay.

The irony is that the people who work 70 hours a week are probably happier and feel more fulfilled at the end of the day than people who put in the average 40 hours and then go home, turn on the TV and veg out.  And let’s be honest, after a day’s work, that’s exactly what most of us do — turn into vegetables.

It’s all too easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t search for enrichment as a working adult.  But you don’t want to one day turn 65 and realize that you never chased those passions of yours because you were too busy working.

How can we better use our free time?

The answer to that question will be different for everyone, but here are a few suggestions:

Start a Business

It might sound scary, but there is little in life more satisfying than owning and operating a business, even if it’s only a business on the side, that directly pertains to your passions.  Love to make pottery? Invest in a wheel and sell your bowls and vases on Etsy.  Have a knack for editing? Start networking and offering your services to businesses or local magazines.  The point is, don’t let your talents go to waste.

Learn an Instrument

It isn’t easy to learn to play an instrument, but it is greatly rewarding no matter how old you are.

Of course, some instruments are more expensive than others (pianos can sell upwards of $50,000 depending on the scale), but there are less expensive alternatives to almost any instrument (keyboards, for example) and you can teach yourself from books that are also inexpensive.

Take Cooking Classes

This can be especially fun if you do it with your husband or wife.  Food is an everyday joy that we often take for granted, but it is very easy to rediscover.

Even buying a new cookbook and trying new recipes often sparks conversation and is a great way to spend the evening with loved ones — certainly much better than lazing around on the couch and watching the same TV shows over and over.

And if cooking doesn’t appeal to you, try to think of something that does: dancing, art, woodworking, jewelry making — there’s a class for just about anything if you look.

Whatever you do, give yourself permission to be a little demented like those hounds who work 70+ hour weeks.  Fill your life with the things and people that matter, and don’t be distracted by the irrelevant.  Life is short, time is precious, and work, while important, isn’t everything.  Enrich and balance your life!

About the Author:  Lauren Bailey regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99

Image courtesy of Or Hiltch.


FREE  4-Part Video eCourse: "How to Find the Perfect Career Fit For Your Personality"
Take our step by step process for finding the perfect career fit for your personality.

15 thoughts on “3 Ways to Make the Most of Life Outside the Office

  1. I so love this post! The point is to keep oneself actively busy and not tired and lazy. For many office just busts the soul and we want to be just lying on the couch the rest of the time; but really, that never gets one anywhere. You end up being lazier and the tiredness never goes that way.

    I make sure I have something to do every alternate day. I go to the gym every day after work and then sometimes it is class of some sort or some cultural event happening around. Makes you feel so much better!

  2. Hello Lauren,

    I wish I had free time and when I do I would love to learn my harmonica – I do pick it up from time to time and play it – makes music and that’s a good thing.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

  3. Charmaine

    I think Porwest has a good point in mentioning complacency, but I believe it goes a little deeper than that. Humans are inherently flawed as individuals. We make mistakes. Only through the use of techniques and methodologies do we begin to overcome our inclination to make mistakes. Practice, successive approximation, and scientific method are examples of workable plans of action in overcoming our mistake prone nature.

  4. Hi Lauren and Bryce,
    Indeed, we all have an incredible resource of potential energy that must be tapped if we intend to live fully. I call it being gripped by a Wonderful Obsession. When gripped by a Wonderful Obsession we transform our hopes and dreams into inspiring addictions. Now we have a mighty dynamo working for us – a wonderful obsession to achieve your aspiration, and inspiring addictions, an invigorating craving that gives us staying power even in the face of great odds. It’s an incredible feeling to be motivated by an invigorating craving when setting one’s sight on a goal. It compels advantageous action, even under the most disadvantageous conditions.

  5. Hi Rob, thanks for your thorough comment on our blog. “Gripped by a Wonderful Obsession”…I really like that phrase!

  6. Hi Nancy, here’s hoping you get more harmonica time! Thanks for your comment.

  7. This is good! Like how we spend 1.3% of our time in the bathroom. This is good, unless you just stand there any admire yourself in the mirror. LOL

    I have to tell you that I love doing my blog and this last week, my PC was out of order and I had to figure out what to do with myself,

    Life is short and work is important, if you want to eat, but we have to build those memories, so when all is said and done we have no regrets.

    Thanks Michelle for the percentages, very interesting,


  8. Thanks for posting your useful tips, they could be really helpful for me. I am always in trouble when I have to manage my free time efficiently.

  9. great post, thank you for sharing this with us. it is very interesting to see how much time we use doing certain things, i will try mange my time more better :)

  10. Zhariane

    Thanks for this wonderful tips! We should really live life to the fullest.. :) I will definitely consider this..

  11. We all need balance, whether we’re working for a paycheck or working to build a company. And what happens when we get home from work and can’t relax because we have an obligation to someone else

  12. Bryce Christiansen

    That’s the key Candice. Loved your summary.

  13. Great advice. Simple and compelling.

  14. I just learned (from Robert Kiyosaki) that wealth measured by how much free time we have.
    If for instance a person has $12k in saving and his expenses run a thousand dollar a month; he’s got 1 year “of wealth”. Wealth is free time; freedom.
    Having a job is a paid slavery; especially if one hates what he does for a living. Starting your own business could be the door to freedom.


  15. Pingback: websites

Comments are closed.