Have You Left Too Much of You Behind?
In our rat-race world it's easy to lose sight of the life we wanted
Posted March 4, 2018
As we move forward in our lives, they often become more and more narrow. We become more specialized in our work; routines take over and we're constantly running on auto-pilot; we do what we do because that’s what we do. But it can back up on us: The big midlife crisis where we can’t take it anymore and we quit our jobs, our relationships. Or we don’t reach that point, but instead live with a dull malaise, a sense that we’re not living the life we envisioned.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The key is to combat inertia by taking action. Here are the steps:
Do an inventory
You can do this once a year, twice a year, your birthday, new year's, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you take the time to reflect on where you are in your life and whether it is the one you really want. Think big thoughts but translate these into the everyday behaviors because this is where quality is found and shaped.
Maybe you are working too much or not enough; being too routinized or not structured enough; don’t have enough friends or don’t have enough alone time. And if there are larger issues dragging you down — problems on the job or a relationship — consider what you can do to solve the problem. Don’t assume that you can’t. That will only leave you feeling trapped and depressed.
Revive old passions
As part of your inventory think about things that you used to enjoy but have been pushed to the side of your life. Yes, maybe you can’t play football like you did in high school or college, but figure what about it liked most — being on a team, competition, just the physicality. And then find a substitute -- lift weights at a gym, join an indoor soccer team.
Or maybe it is a creative side of you that you’ve lost — music or art or crafts. You might not be able to afford that piano but you probably can afford a keyboard and find free lessons online. You might not have space for an art studio, but you can set up a table in the corner of your bedroom and take art classes through community rec.
Beware of excuses
So, you have some ideas, can even get somewhat excited, but now here come the excuses — no money, no time, no energy. Really?
The underlying issue is usually inertia — you have your weekday routines, your weekend routines. As soon as you hit the office or the home, a thousand subtle triggers are firing and pushing you into going on auto-pilot. This is often what you most trying to overcome.
Have a plan
To sidestep these powerful triggers you need to have a clear plan. Make a deal with a friend to go to dinner once a month. Do you grocery shopping on Thursday night so you can free up Saturday for a bike ride. Rent that violin or flute and carve out time to practice instead of watching Netflix. Clear off that desk for artwork. It’s about deliberately changing your patterns.
Commit to at least of month of your plan, preferably three. Why? Because it takes time to get used to the new change in your routine or the awkwardness of starting and learning something new. After the allotted time, step back and evaluate: Are you enjoying what you are doing? Do you need to make some adjustments? Do you need to keep the ends but change the means? And if you don’t like it, want to do something else?
The theme here is simple but important:
Lead your life rather than letting your life lead you.