Seven compelling reasons to pursue your passion outside of work.
I am very pleased that Benson, who leads media planning and buying for our Kenya business, has written this piece. As some of you may know, Benson is also a very talented artist, who has been seriously pursuing her craft for many years now. Here, she talks about her love for art and why carving out ‘you time’ to nurture your passion is so important.
Please read on:
Art has and continues to be such an important part of my life and who I am. I am sure that many of you who dance or sing, play the guitar, love to cook or maybe even run, would agree. You probably have similar experiences to share. Sure, life gets really busy and there is so much to do and be responsible for, but at the end of the day, nothing is more important that being happy and inspired, every day.
Here are my seven reasons why alongside your commitment to work, you should find your passion outside work and then follow it:
1. Has a very positive impact on who you are as a person
There is much scientific research to prove that people who play an instrument or dabble in art, have better attention spans, manage anxiety well and are also better at managing their own emotions. Speaking for myself, whenever I paint or sketch, I find myself temporarily transported to another world. One where all that matters are the lines, shades and swirls of colours. There’s no ambient noise or clutter. It’s a place where I am one with my art. I have always found it a deeply positive, almost magical experience. And even if this does sound somewhat abstract, what it adds to your health is a very real bonus.
2. Equips you to deal with surprises better
So everyone knows that red + blue = green. But ask a painter and they will tell you that there is no one green. And that a drop here and there, can alter the shade quite drastically. When I sit down to paint, I do so with some kind of broad plan in mind. While I have an idea of the kind of output I expect, I also keep my mind open to any other possibilities. At times I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised when my own creation turns out to be something I never quite expected. Over the years, art has helped me deal with surprises better, pull back from a situation while it unfolds in front of me and take quick decisions with a broader picture in mind.
3. Makes you experiment and step out of your comfort zone
Though I start out with a sketch and combination of colours in mind, it’s not quite possible to predict what my painting will turn out to be. My curiosity often pushes me to experiment with styles and textures which are different from what I have used earlier. And because I’m enjoying it so much, I’m not really worried about stepping out of my comfort zone.
4. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated
Having a passion, doesn’t mean that you throw up your job, move out of your house, travel miles away and spend a fortune. I’ve often encountered people who wonder if paints, easels, canvases and brushes cost a fortune. While they don’t exactly come free, the returns for me are huge. I didn’t build up a collection overnight either. I bought them slowly, one at a time. As I see it, if a few drops of colour can give me so much joy, then it certainly is a win-win deal.
5. Helps you develop a different perspective within your role
In my role as a media planner and buyer, I have always interacted closely with brands and media owners. And as an artist, I have always attempted to interpret people, their cultures, concerns and points of view. My art journey has led me to meet many people, who while they are not familiar with my line of work, are brilliant and specialists in their own right. The very process of interacting with them has contributed immensely to my learning. It has broadened my horizons and helped me think differently, something which I have been able to bring to my work as well.
6. You manage your time better
I am a mother, wife, daughter, part-time chef/ mentor/ friend, painter, chief advocate for art-for-change, besides the role I play at Ndiema! Being all of these people and doing all of these things that I so love, gets complicated. But it also pushes me to focus on managing my time better, which is very important for me. For example, I drive some 50 kilometres to and fro, from work every day. Instead of getting bugged by motorists, I focus on listening on music that I love. Ideas pop up and I keep noting them down. Sure, often, I also complain about not having enough time. I could perhaps garden, try my hand at pottery or start a video-blog on my favourite recipes. But we make our own choices. So, to tackle my own cribbing, I have put up ‘job-lists’ everywhere – at office, home, on the fridge – to keep me focused on the things that matter. I prioritise, all the time. And it helps me make the time.
7. Pass it forward
I have always been fascinated by how art can bring about a positive change in people’s lives, by helping them to express themselves better. And so, as a next step, I have recently started a small personal experiment through art and life workshops. I try to carve out a couple of hours over the weekend, for this. Once a month – that’s all it takes. As part of the workshops, I spend time with groups of children, adolescents and even adults and through colour and language – try to teach them the art of expression and help them explore themselves. This is just a start, and I’m still learning, but it has been immensely rewarding.
If you want to make it happen, you will. It really is that simple. And for those of you who need some more inspiration, here is a great set of TED videos to get you thinking. Do watch them when you get a chance: http://thehobbyhoarder.com/tag/ted-talks/
At Ndiema, we want to support you to pursue your interests and help you explore your ‘whole self’.
Because we believe that this is so important for you to be a better colleague, parent, spouse and friend.
Being able to bring what makes you unique to your work will make you a better and more invested leader and team member.
So, why not give it a shot? It doesn’t have to be something ‘cool’ or terribly exciting. Nor must it always require honed skills and training. Not all of us will have the talent for music or art, or even be great sportspeople. And it’s okay, because this one is just about you.
Given the day to day rigamarole of life, some of us may feel that while we have an interest we want to pursue, we don’t have the time for it. But be honest with yourself. Isn’t that really just an excuse? If you truly want to do it, you will find the time. And then some of us say that once we retire or achieve a certain position, then we will spend time pursuing our interests. Think hard if you feel fall in that category – what if the time never comes or if it gets too late. This may sound a bit morbid, but I find this quote from Oliver Holmes compelling – “Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us, unplayed”.
And then there are others who are not quite sure what pursuit (s) to choose. My suggestion is to not overthink this. Pick something that energises you and gives you joy. If you are struggling to find something, think about what things you loved doing when you were a child but couldn’t continue doing. Or perhaps what things make you smile now. Remember that failing doesn’t count here – this isn’t a competition, it’s about you being happy, so you don’t need to have any metrics or targets. And if you are not sure about doing something on your own, find a buddy or a group. But start now – don’t procrastinate; there will never be a perfect time.
So, go ahead. Make your life more “meaning – full”. We would love to hear your stories. I have also attached pictures of a couple of Benso’s wonderful paintings to this message.