A wise woman once said “There are burdens life places on us and burdens we place on ourselves,” meaning that while many responsibilities cannot be helped and are not optional, much of what we put into our life is optional and there as a result of our choice. And if we reach a point where we are tired of that hobby or activity, we can choose to pursue something else and move on guilt-free.

Many things fill our lives and bring us joy but if they also offer stress, we must consider whether or not the pleasure is worth the hassle. Since most of us do not have all that much “free time,” I think the non-essential things we fill our time with should bring us joy with minimal anxiety. When we work, we should work, but when we play, we must play! If it isn’t fun anymore, stop doing it. When optional becomes a chore is when to consider moving on.

Sometimes, we can hang onto certain activities because we feel obligated to others who are also involved. This can be hard and is where wisdom must come into it, because you have to do what is best for yourself, but not at the cost of hurting others. Important causes, however, can always find someone to step in for you. It has been my experience that if other people really care about a group or a cause, they will volunteer to keep it going even if you decide to move on to a new interest. If no one steps forward, it means it was not as important to them as you feared. Often, people enjoy things only so long as they are not responsible for maintaining them. It is best not to consult others on whether or not you should pull out of an activity but instead offer them notice so they can find a replacement. Don’t ask permission, notify! Either someone will step up and take on your former role as a leader or you will find out it isn’t that important to them.

Interests change as we get older and learning to let go is hard. This is especially true when you have participated in something for many years and it has become a nostalgic experience. One can feel guilt that it no longer holds your fascination, or sadness that you cannot find the enthusiasm for it that you used to. It’s okay to say, “This isn’t important to me now” and move on. It was important once and served its purpose to bring you pleasure; we shouldn’t be sad but instead remember the happiness it gave and look forward to new and exciting experiences.

What sometimes happens is that as our interests change we add more things into our life without remembering to take things out of it. We must learn to “edit” our lives so we can live up to our full potential and be as happy as possible in our current circumstances.

I got to feeling overwhelmed recently because I had so many demands on my time. I was spreading myself too thin between things I loved, and as a result they were becoming a burden. In my “free time” I was running two blogs, trying to update my website as often as possible, e-mailing a dozen people on a semi-regular basis, doing an intensive study, working on a novel, running a webzine, and keeping up with two social networks while trying to find time to hang out with local friends. It was too much. I was tired all the time. I was not enjoying any of it, and had no energy to really love the people in my life. Everything was becoming an obligation rather than a hobby I was doing for fun on my own terms. I learned Facebook was putting more pressure on me to keep my website/blog updated, and having to write was making it more difficult to be creative.

I’m an editor, so I did what I do best: I edited until I got to a place where I felt the burden lift. I had to pull the plug on some things but am happier for it. I wish I had done it sooner, but better late than never, right? ♥