I'm dealing with something kind of like that in my pursuit of an interesting life. First, the givens:
- I have a job that takes 40-ish hours a week
- we have a home that requires a healthy amount of time to keep up
- there's a 20lb ball of need rolling around my house that will take as many hours as you care to give it
now, the "discretionary":
- i used to run, and thought at times that it might come to be one of the defining aspects of my middle years - "that guy runs, barefoot, for 10s of miles at a time!". Now, the prospect of carving out X miles * 10 minutes is more involved than a quick check to see if I have 10X minutes open.
- i'm interested in installing some solar power systems at the house, with a minimum goal of running some water pumps and lighting in the back yard and with an advanced goal of tying into the grid and watching my meter go backwards
- speaking of the garden, the wife and I have had some lofty ideas about landscaping for aesthetics as well as gardening for produce to actually eat and show our child where at least some of his food comes from
- continuing in the vein of food production, I've long had an interest in hydroponics and other methods of intense cultivation with minimal resource input - I like the idea of a year round herb garden in the house, plus maybe some peppers, tomatoes, etc
- a long running theme in my relationship with a certain couple of friends has been an interest in writing and sharing our writing with the twin goals of encouraging each other's production and actually getting a finished product that could be shared/marketed/sold to a wider audience
- maintain relationships - I have long prided myself on maintaining real world (non-Facebook) relationships with a handful of friends, but the last year or so has really put the strain to that effort. Hanging out with or communicating regularly with friends should come naturally, but it sometimes seems that we (society) have restructured the mechanisms of life to make this sort of interaction more difficult rather than less.
I have all of these goals (and maybe sundry others), and I do occasionally make progress on one or two (I ran last week! and might run today! and I got into a frenzy of home improvements last month that resulted in under cabinet lights, a slightly more organized garage, blah blah blah) but in general I find that my head hits the pillow at the end of the day that saw me primarily deal with that 20lb ball of need, some grocery shopping, and enough work to get a paycheck in the pipeline.
My hope is that by naming and sharing the goals I may be able to see the situation in a slightly altered perspective and see a new way forward.