Your “Better Life” Is Now (So What Are You Going to Do About It?)
“The goal might sound great: run a marathon, complete a project, get out of debt, get nice abs, make a million dollars. But it’s a fantasy, and when (if) that fantasy comes true, it won’t be what you imagined. It will feel like regular life, not some amazing new life that is different than the life you had. Life won’t be better, and never will be, until you stop wishing for this better life and realize that life is already incredible.” ~Zen Habits, How to Wait Less
All work and no play makes Cordelia a something something. And that something isn’t pretty.
On Monday, I wrote a post about pie. And the main thing I learned from that post (in addition to the fact that several of you think that pie with a side of pie is a brilliant idea) was that sometimes even great things, when you have them in absurd proportions, are just Way Too Freakin’ Much.
This is something I am very good at imposing on myself, but not so good at realizing.
Last week, as I tweaked myself out over the long list of projects I had to get done by the end of Freelance Friday, my husband made a very astute and smackingly obvious observation: “If all of this is making you so miserable, why are you even doing it?”
My first instinct (of course) was to give him the disdainful silent treatment and hunch even further over my desk, pretending like I love being under so much stress, thank you very much, because this is exactly the sort of work I wanted to be buried under. Why was I doing it? Because it’s my dream, dammit! And I have so much of it right now I feel guilty taking time out to eat. Which is awesome.
My second instinct (well, more like fourth or fifth—I don’t come out of a huff that quickly) was to begrudgingly realize that he was right. But, it wasn’t the work that was making me miserable; it was the way I was approaching it.
I am living the dream (part-time, at least), and but I haven’t been living like I’m living it.
The thing about hustlers is, we hustle.
That’s how we do. We didn’t get to where we are through relaxing days and lots of free time. And we don’t expect to continue our momentum (let alone gain any forward motion) by “taking it easy.” It’s all push, all the time, and if we don’t blaze through a Herculean amount of to dos in any one day, we feel like we’re slacking. We feel like we’re on the verge of slipping backward. Overwork and overwhelm and long days are a badge of honor and progress.
Or maybe that’s just me. I do have a tendency to take on way too much.
The thing I’ve been tripping myself up over lately, though, is that the work I’m overwhelming myself with is good work. It’s work I enjoy doing, work that’s building towards someday hopefully being able to do this full-time. So a little overwhelm is good, right, because it’s all in the name of the Grand Master Plan?
Not so much.
Because the thing is, I’ve already hit a point that me of a year ago would have been abso-tively, posi-lutely thrilled with. But I’m not letting myself be thrilled with it. I’m not letting myself pause and enjoy any of it (albeit while still hustling). I’m defeating my entire purpose.
Hello, good china. You are coming out of the closet now.
I have 2 days a week free to pursue my dream. I am frickin’ part-time at the day job. (Take a minute to realize that, Cordelia, because it all happened so fast I don’t think it ever truly sank in: PART. TIME. Your day job is now your side job. YOU ARE A FREELANCER. Hot damn.)
And if I can’t enjoy that, if I can’t pause and love my life when I’m doing my dreams part-time, am I ever really going to love my life when I’m doing them full-time? Or am I just going to keep burning myself out, forgetting that the whole point of all this was to be happy with my life as it is in the moment?
As Leo’s fantastic quote at top points out, you will never really get “there” until you’re content with being here. Your “better” life will always be in the future, making this life as it is look shabby and unsatisfactory by comparison. But the thing is, we can’t live in the future. We live in the now. And now is already infinitely better than our past selves could ever have imagined.
So it’s time to start living like it is, stupid. (That “stupid” was directed at myself. I’d never call you lovelies stupid.)
Here are the things I am going to be doing differently from this point forward to make sure that (again, while still hustling to move onward and upward) I really, truly appreciate the heck out of where I am now:
- 9:00-10:00 on freelance mornings is Live! with Kelly and Michael time. Because ever since I was little, Regis and Kelly were a staple of my days off from school (and later work). They were the ultimate luxury, and they have never once failed to make me laugh uncontrollably. The fact that I am not allowing myself to revel in my favorite “I’m getting way with something” show on the days I worked so hard to earn is a crime.
- I will continue the time-honored tradition of kids home from school everywhere: I will occasionally glance at the clock, think of what I would be doing at my day job if I were at my day job that very moment, and smirk gleefully.
- Cutoff time for work on weekday evenings is to be strictly observed. At my designated hour, I must turn off the computer, silence my phone, and join the husband for some much-needed cuddles in front of the TV. This is non-negotiable unless a project is literally on fire. (Which would probably mean my computer is on fire? In which case we’d both be preoccupied with putting out the flames, anyway.)
- Saturdays are Relaxation Days. Errands and projects are o.k. on Sundays in moderation, but Saturdays are full-frontal shameless relaxation and fun days. I will go to movies with the husband. I will pursue my hobbies (see below). I will make progress on nothing but enjoying my Saturday. This will feel very weird at first, but in a good way.
- I will have hobbies again. I’ve been mistaking my passion (freelancing) for the only hobby I have lately, forgetting that I once thoroughly enjoyed other things like reading, HGTV marathons, and teaching my dogs tricks. Our first dog knows an impressive routine of tricks (all of which she will launch into when presented with a treat). Our second dog knows “sit” and sometimes “quiet,” if she feels like doing it. She is very smart and could no doubt be a protégé, but I have been neglecting her potential (and how much I love interacting with my furry babies). This will be rectified.
How can YOU enjoy your “better” life now?
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