If you are driven, you have dedicated yourself to your tasks lists and may have disciplined yourself to put off enjoying life’s pleasures for later. Whether you are in your late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50s or 60’s have you found yourself reaching a milestone in your goals and looking back and asking yourself, “now what?”
If you are approaching your late 20’s you may have made it through college and have found yourself chasing your financial, material and career goals. You have likely shown you are capable of having a successful career and have found yourself doing everything you can to learn what you need to get ahead and work furiously to be recognized as one of the best in your roles. Even though you are still young, you may find yourself exhausted after work. You begin to live for the weekend or your days off. Then you approach 30 and say, wait what happened to my 20’s. I was supposed to have fun!
In your 30’s you may have chosen to have children and now have even less time for yourself. You and your spouse start drifting apart because you have a high demanding career and your kids are needing you too. You are still concerned about your finances so you put off many dates given the cost of the babysitter plus dinner and entertainment or pure exhaustion from your never-ending to-do list. You start wishing for ways to escape your busyness but are afraid to take a break for yourself for too long because that just means more you have to do later.
If you haven’t learned to balance yet, you are then in your 40’s and your kids are growing older. You have devoted your life to being a good parent and continuing your career growth. If you haven’t put the necessary time into your marriage, you may also find you have distanced from your life partner and your kids now want to do things with their friends. You are now financially better off, have your house the way you want it and if you have done a good job saving, you have plans for your kids’ college educations and your retirement nest egg. Although according to your financial planner, it may still not be enough.
You find yourself feeling like you have been running and chasing after your goals for twenty plus years and realize you have more than 20 more to go before you can retire. You also are starting to feel less fulfilled by your work. The income is now a necessity based on the lifestyle you have created for your family. However, more money is less important and your accomplishments may become less gratifying. You would still love to have time for your hobby you said you would do later. You find yourself wanting a purpose and thinking about your legacy.
No matter what milestone you reach, those possessions do not keep you happy. You may even find yourself feeling bitter at those who are able to let go of all their worries and just be. You may ask yourself, “why don’t you feel that joy inside you that you see in those who don’t have near as much as you?”
You started going through the motions of trying to get everything done. You forgot to enjoy the journey. You focused more on the to-do list than being grateful for everything you already had. Guess what, you will never be able to get everything done. Your life is about the people in it.
Wow! All of this seems very sad for someone who works so hard, doesn’t it? It is if you let your drive take over your life. I am not saying your drive is a bad thing, as it is not. I am still proud of mine and have accomplished many things that have been positive for myself and others. I am just pleading for you to listen to your soul. Don’t blow off that inner voice or those wise around you telling you to enjoy the journey and let the to-do list go. You may be asking, “but how?”
Here are some answers. Pause and reflect and ask yourself these questions:
-If you find your work exhausting, take time to reexamine what it is that really fulfills you.
-What is it that makes you feel complete and energetic?
-Is the high income worth rushing through your life?
-Are you making time for family and friends over your tasks list?
-Is it that big of a deal if not all the housework is done? Do you need to do everyone else’s laundry?
-Are you in a job where you are enjoying the people in your life at work?
-Are you going through the motions because your job has become a chore?
You have choices.
Are you going to choose to make them in your 20’s so you can enjoy the beauty of life while you are in your prime health to get active? In your 30’s, are you going to embrace your kids and show your spouse how much you appreciate them for bringing joy and balance to your life? Don’t wait until your halftime. Even worse, don’t wait until retirement. You may not get a later.
Here are some tips I have learned and found helpful when practiced:
-Check yourself for your ability to set boundaries and your abilities to say no. Next time someone asks for your help, and you are strapped say, “I would love to help you however, I have other demands at the moment.”
-Write down the things you feel you need to do. What can you cross off? What can wait until after you do what fulfills you? If you have a hard time crossing things off the list, remind yourself you are no good to anyone if you become empty.
-Check your OCD qualities and then ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen if I let that go?” Is it a big deal if my spouse/roommate’s coat lays on the coach until he/she leaves tomorrow. Remind yourself you can’t control your spouse/roommate so all you can do is control how you view the annoyance. Stop yourself from doing it for them and taking on the martyr role. Learn to say, “I feel unimportant when you leave your coat on the couch given you know how I prefer things neat. Could you please help me keep the place nice?” You will be surprised when your spouse/roommate hears how things make you feel. (See Randy Creamers, Conflict Guide for Couples.) https://timetoheal.solutions/resources/
-Know it is okay to ask for help if you are truly taking on more than your fair share. Learn to delegate. When you teach other people, you multiply what you can accomplish.
-Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and view yourself. What are the things I do that I wouldn’t want my spouse/friend or children to do to me? If he/she was always busy wouldn’t I wish he/she could make time for me?
My husband and girls would agree with me that I still struggle with letting myself take a break and being present along the way. However since I have reached 45 (aka halftime), I recognize more that I can’t take the years back. I have been working on making sure the goals I set and what I do with my time give me purpose and joy. I stay true to my soul to how I approach my career so I can feel fulfilled and feel I am making a difference. Also, it is the first year for me where I have plans for using all of my vacation days.
Book your vacation days. However, don’t wait until then to enjoy yourself. Stop and enjoy the beauty around you.
Other helpful tips can be found here: Shine Bright