The loneliness of convenience

    When the pandemic took hold in March 2020 and we were all locked-down into a "shelter in place" mode, I did what many other people did. No, I didn't purchase a Peloton. But I did invest in establishing the foundation of a garage gym. At the time, the only piece of exercise equipment was a treadmill and a TRX system. During the initial months of the pandemic, I added a rack, barbell, plates, bench, dumbbells and some padded flooring tiles.

    Over the past two and a half years, I've enjoyed the convenience of being able to step into my garage and get a good workout in without the barriers of driving to the health club, waiting my turn for a machine, or feeling judged for my relative inexperience or lack of strength.

    However, the cost of that convenience has started to add up and it feels like only recently that I've become aware of the actual price I've paid. The cost I'm talking about is not the dollars and cents. I've already added up my total expenses for purchasing the equipment as well as calculated what I've saved in monthly membership dues. And, I'm happy to report that the payback period on my home gym investment has already been reached. But there is another cost that, for whatever reason, I never anticipated. I'm lonely.

    Perhaps I would feel differently if I was still commuting to an office building everyday and working shoulder-to-shoulder with my coworkers. But, given that I've spent the past 2.5-years working from home, I've started noticing that my walk into the garage to start my workout no longer feels convenient but rather, isolating.

    There was a time I perceived the effort to get ready and commute to the gym as a barrier to working out. Now I feel as though it would be a welcomed ritual. To go somewhere else, outside my home where I now spend what feels like 90% of my time, and be around other people. Maybe it's taken me longer than others (I am an introvert, after all) but I'm really starting to feel the effects of being in the same physical space for so much of my day, every day.

    I don't think this feeling is about where or when I work out. I think the home gym is simply the context where I first took note of these feelings. I think what I'm missing is what at one time would have been referred to as a "third place". But for me, working and working out at home has left me without even having a second place. And, if the cost of having that place is an extra $50-100 per month, I'm starting to feel like it might be worth the investment.

    Design the Life You Want

    As someone who has spent the majority of my career in product, I'm familiar with the concept and process of "design thinking". In fact, a former colleague who attended the Stanford was kind enough to share much of what she learned there with me and a few others through a series of design thinking workshops about a half-dozen years ago. So, when I stumbled upon the following Tedx Talk by Bill Burnett, I knew it would be well worth the 25-minute investment.

    Bill is one of the founders of the Life Design Lab a Stanford and the author of, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

    In this talk titled, "5 steps to designing the life you want", Bill discusses how design thinking principles can be applied to help you design your life.

    Even if you decide to not invest the time and energy in following the five steps and even if you don't intentionally apply design thinking principles to your life, I believe there is value in adopting the simple encouragement offered at the close of the video.

    • Get Curious
    • Talk to People
    • Try Stuff

    I don't know about you but I would do well to use those three bullet points as standing "to-dos" on my daily calendar.