Recently I had the pleasure of experiencing Kew Gardens in West London for the first time, with a good friend. My friend has been there many times but for me, Kew Gardens is one of those places I have always meant to visit, but not got round to, until now.
While wandering around the immense and beautiful gardens, I was struck by how relaxed I felt in that pleasant environment and immediately wondered why I hadn’t visited before, having lived close by for around a decade.
For those who have never been to Kew, the gardens are an UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring 121 hectares of internationally important plantings. Kew as an organisation is responsible for the world’s largest collection of living plants and employs hundreds of scientists involved in botanical research. The herbarium has over seven million plant specimens preserved. I took the photos on this post during my recent visit.
Amongst the many things to see are Victorian botanical glasshouses. We went into the Palm House and Temperate House (which is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glass structure).
Some other attractions are: Waterlily House, The Treetop Walk, Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, The Princess of Wales Conservatory, The Great Chinese Pagoda, Orangery, Kew Palace (the smallest of the Royal Palaces) and The Museum.
This nice setting started me thinking about how important it is to value our leisure time. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fair bit of leisure time, but it was doing something different, something outside of the more predictable, free-time routine that made this an extra special day.
If you have had a look around this site, then you will know that I believe that life is not just about working or the 40/40/40 plan (work 40 hours a week, for 40 years, for someone else and then survive on 40% of your final salary).
I believe that this is truly the age of the entrepreneur. The old model of working for somebody else most of your life, with relative security and a good pension, is dying or very nearly dead in a lot of countries.
Jobs are being lost all over the Western world and the frightening thing is that a lot of them are not coming back. It is not just a case of waiting for the economy to get better and then all the jobs returning. Many job functions have been outsourced, infact whole industries in some cases, to newly industrialising nations, where there is a lower cost of labour but a growth in technical expertise.
A lot of this change has been caused by the internet of course. It has completely changed the face of industries. Destroyed some and created countless others. If you were to tell a record company executive 20 years ago, that in a few years time, people would not need to buy records and CDs, because they could get practically any music they wanted, instantly, for free, he would have laughed!
So what is the answer? It is to use the internet to our advantage, it is to self-publish. The days of creating and waiting for somebody to notice you are fading. The internet has shifted the balance of commercial power. It empowers people who harness it and it can hurt people who do not.
This is why I joined the SFM over a year ago now and began to learn skills that would help me to succeed with online business. As nothing is certain in the world of work these days, I wanted to create something for myself, that I could build alongside a daytime job.
Learning new skills in the new digital economy puts you at an advantage. Especially if you already do business offline or a little online, it means that you can take newly acquired marketing and creative skills and make the internet work for you, rather than being out-maneuvered by those who are digital business savvy.
Taking the time to enjoy your time is the title of this post. What I mean by this is that so often, we are lost in our busy lives and it is easy to forget why we are all working so hard in the first place. You drive to and from work, pay the bills, feed your family, somehow make it through the month, just, then start all over again. If you’re lucky, you may manage a holiday or a break or two a year.
A nice bit of leisure time, especially spontaneous, a walk round Kew Gardens, it could be anything, is a reminder that life should not be all about work and scraping by to pay the bills. The so called rat-race. Taking some time out for leisure provides us with a glimpse of what life could be like with more of that leisure time in it. Inspiration on how to improve our lives can come from relaxing and enjoying ourselves, far better than from staring at a screen.
The paradox is that to create more quality time for yourself, family time, leisure time, travel time etc, some work needs to be done and effort applied but the key is directing effort in the best way. We all have 24 hours a day. How we choose to invest those 24 hours will greatly affect what we achieve in life.
We can decide to work for somebody else for 40 odd years and make an ok living. Alternatively, we can work for somebody else for a while, to pay the bills, while working on the bigger more exciting project-learning new skills, creating our own products and services and learning how to market them. Look here to learn how you can design your own future, connect with hundreds of other like minded people and go on to create the quality time we are all looking for and the means to really enjoy it!
To your free time!