The Get A Life Tree

Years ago I read a lovely book by Ernie Zelinski titled The Joy of Not Working. It challenges readers to have a proper perspective on the importance of paid employment and to suck the marrow out of life and living it.

One of the activities in the book is creating a Get a Life Tree. Readers draw out a ‘tree’ with branching ideas of leisure activities they have done in the past and ones they would like to try. Additional categories can be added like activities you can do by yourself, ones to do with others, free activities, ones for a short timeframe vs. ones to do at a future point in time, etc.

It’s a great exercise in creativity to brainstorm a host of fun, worthwhile things to do that challenge you and open you to new experiences.

The really fun part, though, is putting words into action- getting out there and doing what you’ve listed on your Tree.  

I love digging out my Tree, crossing off things I’ve done, selecting new ones to tackle, feeling the excitement of new adventures, and adding new ideas to the Tree.

There are always new adventures waiting on the horizon. Why not ‘get a life’ and go after them?

 Image Source



Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Inanimate Object- a stream of consciousness

Lifeless, limply hanging, wishing for a breath of life

Dust- living creatures turned into inanimate objects
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes

Faded photos, worn out shoes
Pieces of saints sealed in gold bottles- venerated inanimate objects

Towering cathedrals, lingering incense, echoes of silence 

Image source

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Filed under Creativity, Writing

20 responses to “The Get A Life Tree

  1. I love the idea of creating a Get A Life Tree! How FUN. Thanks, Zoe.

    • It is fun. My tree is on large-scale paper with a ton of branches and twigs. I’d forgotten about it for a while and went back to it only to discover that I’d actually done some of the things on the tree without remembering that I’d written them in. Other things I’d forgotten about and was reminded to start pursuing them. It’s great to look at, too, when I am fresh out of ideas and can go back to a moment in time when I was bubbling over with them.
      Thanks for the commnet.

  2. I only work 2.5 days as a teacher. It leaves time to live: and to walk away from staff who are beginning to get their priorities out of whack. There are so many experiences out there and only a limited number of years to fit them in…

    • Sounds like the job-sharing went through. How fabulous! Bet you can’t even imagine going back to full-time work.
      So very, very true- only a limited time. Quite often I think: when I get to the end of my brief time here, what am I going to look back on and think of as time well spent? Then I try to consciously live doing more of what’s really worthwhile. Good to keep re-evaluating.

  3. I am retired to a life that offers me lots of time and little time at the same time. There’s a riddle in that sentence. I was working full-time when my husband’s doctor told me that my hubby needed 24-hour care. I’m 26 years younger than he and well able to be his caregiver. While I have lots of time, it is 24/7 spent with my sweet husband, and he’s not up to much activity. Yet, we have a lovely life together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy being his caregiver more than working a 40-hour job. Life is delightful for us. I can see the benefit in making a get-a-life tree. At a glance we could choose on any day some activity that fits our lifestyle. All we need to do is add them to the tree as we think of them. One of our favorite outings is the grocery store with McDonald’s for fish fillet meals after. Activities that include eating count double, don’t they? Blessings to you, Zoe…

    • What a great take you have on how things have worked out for you and your hubby. I love how you call him your “sweet husband” 🙂
      I hope you’ve had a chance to have a Shamrock shake at McDonald’s sometime over the past few weeks. I just googed and found out that a 12oz shake has 30% of the recommended daily value of calcium one needs. Could it then be classified as health food?
      Happy outings to you!

  4. That is a wonderful idea! Thank you for visiting my blog today. 🙂

    I’m not working at the moment, but have tons of hobbies so never seem to have spare time, and if I find any it is taken up by reading!

  5. We have been doing a lot of this lately, both in business and life. It is interesting how trying new things and challenging yourself is so energizing!

  6. I like the idea of a get a life tree.
    I guess by list of things require a lot of climbing and reaching though.
    The lucky few have a job that is their hobby.
    That is what i hope for

    • There are pros and cons to having a job that is a hobby. A pro is that you get to do something you love for money. A con is that it may no longer be fun after a while as it becomes something you have to do rather than something you merely want to do. Depends on the person, depends on the situation.

  7. V

    Nice idea.
    Practically speaking…. how can a person who needs to/must work 30-40 hours to survive, “get a life”? Is it possible?

    Or is this scale tipped more towards the affluent folks?

    • Fun can be had by all- it just takes a bit of imagination and creativity. You could even weave some of the ‘get a life’ activities into the workday, like starting a lunchtime book club with co-workers, or a walking club. Outside of the 30-40 hours a week the possibilities expand to fit whatever lifestyle they can be woven into. And if nothing else, trying on different glasses through which to see ordinary scenarios can provide hours of entertainment. A branch of the ‘get a life’ tree can be different personas you want to take on during your regular trips to the grocery store or gas station. Oh I could go on…

  8. I’ve just been made redundant so now have tons of time. My plan is to find a part time job leaving me time to live and get my novel finished. I’m really looking forward to it as I’ve been itching to get off the endless treadmill for years. A life tree sounds like a great idea and one I can use to manage my time now I’m free to do whatever my heart desires!

    • Sometimes we need that external push to make us go in the direction we really want. The so-called security of a full-time job can be so hard to let go of, but if the decision is made for us, it can open up a whole new world- if we let it. Sounds like you have the perfect attitude to sail through this period of your life and use it to head for creative fulness.

  9. Cheryl

    I am reading the book How to Retire Happy Wild and Free; a great book! I am at the stage of drawing a Get-a-Life-Tree, con anyone suggest a software that I could use please?

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Cheryl. I did mine by hand on good old fashioned flip chart paper. I hear Visio would be a good program for this, though I’m no techie.
      Hope you enjoy acting on your Get-a-Life-Tree adventures.

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