Every year I make a list of new things to try. These New Things are a pretty predictable mix of physical challenges, weird foods, and books/movies that everyone-other-than-me is familiar with.
But this year, I’m trying something different. Something that’s, honestly, probably a lot more challenging than running a 5k or taking a trapeze class.
For my next trick, I’m going to (try to) really, actually be in my life.
Truth be told, I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life living out in front of it, starting sentences with “When I get back from ….” and “As soon as I finish …..”
I’ve started planning my next trip while on other trips. I AM LITERALLY WRITING THIS POST NEXT TO A POOL IN MEXICO. Since I finished college, I’ve been building my life around some Giant Thing In The Foreseeable Future. Moving to Taiwan, moving to New Zealand, finishing my MA, leaving my teaching job, planning a 10-month trip, moving again, traveling again, moving again … and on and on and on.
I’ve compressed entire portions on my life – my health, my relationships, my creativity – into teeny, tiny boxes so I could make space for Some Giant Upcoming Project. And while it’s lovely to undertake Giant Projects, I imagine it would also be lovely to have some sort of work/life balance.
At the risk of sounding like your hippie cousin:
When I’m counting down the days to my Next Big Thing, I’m compromising my Current Thing. I miss birthday parties and long lunches and sunset walks. My bedroom lacks personality and my backyard is boring. I drink smoothies on the way to meetings and eat ‘dinner’ standing in front of the fridge.
I do most of these things for ‘good’ reasons – I’m working really hard so I can take six weeks off! I’m launching a new offerings! I’m applying to a really cool professional development program!
I don’t want to stop doing huge and exciting things, but what if I tried to create a life that was lovely and sustainable and exciting in the day to day? What if my life wasn’t always a feast and famine of overwork followed by six weeks of capital a Adventure? What if I had smaller, sweeter adventures every day and every week?
To be honest, I’m not 100% sure how to do this or what it will look like. Maybe it will mean maintaining my professional ‘status quo’ instead of trying to triple my traffic and income.
Maybe it’s taking a long weekend to visit my grandma instead of spending a week in Iceland.
Maybe it’s getting to know my own city and state, finally planting a vegetable garden, and diplomatically saying ‘no’ to any project that requires a huge time commitment.
Maybe it’s just having the guts to keep my calendar open and giving myself and my life a little bit of breathing room.
This New Thing is less ‘achieved’ and more ‘a work in progress.’ Last time I decided that I was going to do this, I booked two trips within two months and decided to completely reconfigure my business model. So, if you’ve mastered the art of living in your life instead of in your calendar, I’d really, really love to hear how you do it.
(And, uh, hold me accountable when – in two weeks – I tell you that I’ve embarked on some new Huge Thing.)
Tell me, friends, are you a future-liver? And if you’re a recovered one, how in did you stop?!