“The bigger your career gets, the smaller your life gets.”
I came across that quote while reading an interview with Adele, and it caught my eye.
Big career = small life.
Hmmmm…pretty prophetic and troublesome yet in many ways, true.
At very young ages we are told to strive for the top and go for the best. We are rarely told to go for life and not just make a living. As a friend said last night at a dinner party with friends, “no one rings the bell at the top telling you it’s the top.” He was referring to the real estate market, but I believe it also rings true about careers and goals…and life. At what point do we tell ourselves, “I’ve done it. This is good?”
When do we ever have enough?
When are we ever satisfied?
Look around, all ages are almost always wanting more. Toddlers want more toys. Teens want more freedom. Twentysomethings want more technology. Seniors want more time. Last night’s Power Ball would have (supposedly) made someone’s life much better. I won’t argue with the fact that money can make for a better life on many levels, but exactly how much money is enough money?
We also talked about this last night and as we went around the dinner table asking each other what they would do if they won the lottery, I loved one friend’s answer of “I’d make a lot of people happy.” Bingo. He gets it. (For the record I said a private plane and chef.)
As I mentioned in a previous blog, there’s now a condition called “destination addiction,” in which one constantly strives for the next perfect place or the next big thing, never slowing down to appreciate where or how he or she is. It’s sad really and it’s fairly prevalent.
January is the month we all make our New Year’s Resolutions and I’m right up there with the masses listing all the things I’m going to do and accomplish in 2016. Here’s where I today am firmly applying the brakes, altering plans, and changing my mind.
Rather than doing something new this year, I’m going to do something less.
What about making a resolution list of things I’m NOT going to do?
How about taking things out of my daily routine rather than adding to its already jam-packed state? Besides, most days I’m pretty fulfilled so why mess with that?
Will I really benefit from all the things I said I wanted to do at the beginning of this month or will they just stress me out?
Those books and daily devotionals I said I was going to read every day? Just the sight of them stacked up next to my bed indeed stresses me out. I feel like I’m back in school and they are my assignments. So, each morning I’m back to my original two from years passed and will read the others when I feel the urge. That gives me peace. The peace I thought I would find by making sure I read several of them every day, at various times of the day, in various rooms in my house.
Walking 30 minutes every day? I have done that some, but not daily. I’m okay with that though. I’m trying and I’ve enjoyed doing so. I sometimes also prefer to sleep in the mornings or come home from work and read a book or simply “be” rather than go for a walk. I’m okay with that too. Sure, am I envious of friends who have a daily work-out routine, genuinely enjoy doing so, and have the bodies to prove it? Of course, but I’m not them and I want to be okay with that. I’m Carla and Carla does not love exercise. This might make Carla heavier than she’d prefer to be but it doesn’t make Carla a bad person.
In all honesty though, if there is one thing I would like to do is looking forward to exercising and taking the time to do it. I just don’t. Never have. Don’t know how. I was doing yoga at our club and loving it but they changed the classes and now they don’t fit my schedule. I did the personal trainer thing but even though I know it was a healthy thing to do, I didn’t lose any weight or see changes in my body. I refuse to do any of those weight loss and/or diet programs because everyone I know who has just gains it all back. The other problem I have: I love to eat and sadly I do like bad foods. Kale or kale chips? I’ll almost always chose the chips. I also don’t enjoy cooking and especially the prep that goes with it (hence the chef answer to “if I won the lottery) and as an empty nester it’s easy to go for what’s easy and as we all know, what’s easy is rarely what’s healthy. I will continue to search and strive though in hopes of finding that one thing that motivates me and moves me, both literally and figuratively.
In the meantime, I’m going to think about what Iris Murdoch once said, “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” That I can do: small and joyful treats…getting them and giving them.
I’ve also decided I’m officially removing the words “should” and the phrase “have to” from my vocabulary and replace them with “want” and “get to.” No more “I should go to yoga” but rather “I want to go to yoga.” Instead of thinking “I have to go grocery shopping” I will work on realizing “I get to go grocery shopping.”
I kinda wanna do less, not more.
I’m done with guilt and I’m done with assignments.
I’m done with checking things off a list.
I’m too old for that and I’m too bold for that.
“Collect moments not things, earn respect not money,
enjoy love not luxuries.”
Rather than doing the right things for the wrong reasons (I have to, someone else does it, I always have done it), I’m going to focus on doing things for the right reasons (that book inspires me, that activity enhances my life, I actually enjoy it) and hope for the best. As with anything – a job, a marriage, a hobby – your heart has to be in it in order for it to be successful and satisfying.
You could say I’ve had a sort of epiphany about my life (and coincidently the Feast of the Epiphany was this week). I don’t want my life so full anymore. I almost want it emptied out so I can fill it back up with the right things. I am ready to be “filled up” and I am willing to have something poured into my life that’s life giving, not life taking. Busyness does not bring happiness and happiness needs reflectiveness.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in these feelings of being overwhelmed and under fire. Many of you probably feel empty too at times and maybe it’s because we are all trying to fill our lives with the wrong things: titles, achievements, busyness, activities, bigger and better possessions. You know because….we’re supposed to want those things cuz they will make us whole and happy. Not!
So, I resolve to…
Decide what I envision myself and my life to be and work on obtaining that vision through positive and enjoyable steps.
Have fresh flowers in the house year ‘round.
Call my mom more often.
Live by my values regarding respect, relaxing, and rewarding myself.
Live each moment and treasure the doing, not the getting it done.
Be kinder to myself and kinder to others.
Don’t expect too much of myself.
After all, the future is not some place we are going, but a place we are creating. Remember, life is about balance and our real wealth is what we invest in for eternity.