The four types of activities

There are things I do (or try to do) every day. And I can sort these (and nearly everything else) into four groups:

  1. Things I need to do (due to survival, health, etc.)
  2. Things I should do (interests, personal improvement, etc.)
  3. Things I want to do (but probably should avoid)
  4. Things I should not do (because it’s not good for me)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about which things belong in which category. Ever since I realized Warren Buffet was to blame for my lessened interest in pro wrestling, my mind has been sorting these things out.

So let’s break it down.

NEED TO DO

These are the things that are essential to live, survive, be healthy, etc. If I’m unable to do anything else, I need to do whatever it takes to do these things to the best of my ability. Though it’s not all obvious stuff.

These things include: Eating well, sleeping well, being active (not necessarily an intense workout), being grateful, engaging with positive people, reading, using my idea muscle, taking time to sit and breathe, laughing, etc.

Also, “going to work” fits here, as long as money is a factor.

SHOULD DO

These are the five things I’ve ultimately settled on after doing Buffett’s 5/25 list:

  • Writing
  • Learning
  • Practicing the ukulele
  • Playing some pinball
  • Watching some pro wrestling

Those last three may seem out of place. Well, first of all: I listed them in order of priority. If all else fails, I should make sure I write. I’ve written in the past about why writing is healthy for me. I’ll probably write it again. Learning is an interesting one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a class (though it can be). It could be reading a book about a topic that interests me. It could be thinking about a movie I watched and what it taught me about people. There are constantly new opportunities to learn, if you look for them.

The other three (ukulele, pinball, wrestling) are of personal interest. They may not stay on this list forever. I may find something else worth pursuing or my interests my falter in any of them. Maybe I reignite my desire to become skilled in Esperanto, and that boots off pinball. Maybe I start a podcast, and it kicks off wrestling. Or maybe it’s a podcast about wrestling and it merges. I don’t know. But as long as an activity meets any of the following conditions, I’ll consider it:

  • Does it teach me something useful?
  • Do I find genuine joy in it?
  • Does it help me financially?

WANT TO DO

This is the scary one. These are the hobbies I think I love, but really just take time away from the things I truly love. Time wasters, essentially.

This feature: Watching TV, most video games, unnecessary eating (which also fits in the next category), Twitch live streaming, language learning, good cooking (I’m easy to please, food-wise, why waste time?), golf (hitting balls as an occasional way to work out or social activity is fine), etc.

Most of the stuff in this list is a “I know it when I see it” sort of thing. The tricky part is being self-aware enough to see it when it comes up. Maybe I’ll do some of these things once in a while to accomplish something on the upper two groups, but hopefully not too often.

SHOULD NOT DO

This list is easy. It’s not stuff I should mostly avoid, like the last list. It’s the blatantly unhealthy crap. I should not: Eat when not hungry, stay up late, swear a lot, be negative, argue with people, lose myself in social media, complain, be rude, etc. There’s a bit of a theme to a lot of these, but the gist is simple: Live a happy life.

I’m going to screw up in all of these from time to time. I haven’t been writing as detailed stuff as I’ve wanted to, as of late. (I have been writing, though). I just finished a book, and I haven’t started reading another yet. I ate too much for lunch today.

But no matter how many times I screw up, I trust I’ll figure it out in the end. The other option is to keep living life without fulfillment. And I can’t afford that.

About me

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, whose population was under 500.

At age 18, I went to college. A small state university in a town with a population of about 15,000.

At age 20, I decided to major in political science, with the goal of going to law school and becoming an attorney. Continue reading