Posted on 14 January 2018
2017, where did you go? I honestly can’t remember what I was doing this time last year and that’s a little worrying! Isn’t it scary that time passes so quickly and we feel like we have so little to show for it? I briefly remember setting up a shop and a trip to Bangladesh so I’m pretty sure I did ‘stuff’ but what about the other million hours I spent breathing?!
It’s a little crazy when we stop to think about how precious time is (how unpredictable life and death can be) yet how frivolous we are in spending it. I want to be intentional with my time. If I spend my working hours doing things I don’t enjoy (yes, even though I run my dream business that aligns with my values and strengths, I still have to undertake a huge number of tasks I despise *shakes fist*), I want to spend my non-working hours on activities I do enjoy! A couple of my 2018 focuses are to develop a daily yoga practise (30 minutes a day) and to run a half marathon (3 sessions a week) which only requires around 8 hours a week in total (depending on the ability of my lungs to adapt to the feeling of dying). Honestly it’s been difficult to find time after work (because as much as I’d like to kick my snoozing habit, before work is spent sleeping) to keep up both these activities, yet I’ll unconsciously spend 10 hours on transport without blinking an eyelid.
I’m not really into resolutions but I’m totally into mindfulness (because let’s face it I’m a sustainability-bashing, Birkenstock-wearing, Byron Bay-holidaying hippie) and unless you want to live a life filled with regret, you should be too! Mindfulness is just being conscious of the present - being aware of your thoughts and feelings and then giving yourself permission to make decisions in your life that lean to more of the good stuff. Hating your workplace but turning up everyday for the pay check and the free milo = not mindfulness (even though free Milo is a real drawcard). Realising you don’t enjoy your workplace because of it’s profiteering values and giving yourself permission to start researching potential job changes = mindfulness. Hating your body, knowing you need to curb the hot chippies everyday but brushing it aside because #effort = not mindfulness. Recognising that hot chips only bring you temporary happiness and deciding to take real steps towards well-being = mindfulness. Basically anything that results in you yelling ‘YOLO’ and carrying on with a behaviour you know is toxic is the opposite of mindfulness!
It’s not that mindfulness makes you feel bad but rather it encourages you to be conscious of the world, honest with your thoughts and inspired to contribute your time, energy and resources positively. At the risk of casually throwing death in the mix, surely I’m not the only one who wants my eulogy to celebrate much more than dollars earned, food outings documented or ladders climbed? There’s so much more to life than counting down to the next vacay or setting yourself up for early retirement.
If you haven’t been challenged with these thoughts before, take it easy! Start with dreaming about having an afternoon all to yourself and how you would spend it. If you thought about doing absolutely nothing, I’m with you! Enjoy that ‘nothingness’ for a period but don’t be surprised when it eventually wears off and you start to feel restless. Sometimes we need a lot of nothingness to realise it’s not actually that enjoyable! It’s great at first because you can put your feet up, read a book, go for walks and not answer to anyone, but after some time you just start to feel a bit like nothing. I’ve spoken with friends and family who have really struggled with periods of ‘nothingness’ when they were in between jobs or even on holidays from studying. What they thought was going to be a ‘life of leisure’ led to feeling really depressed about not having a routine, literally having nothing to do with their day and an overall lack of purpose. If you stopped your full time gig (a day-job, caring for a family, whatever your current role is) right now, is that how you would be?
While I acknowledge that jobs and families are a huge part of our daily lives, it’s scary to think that if we eliminated them we’ve potentially lost our whole identity. There’s more to being a human than earning money or even raising a family. This is where the dreaming begins! Instead of letting your existence go to waste, what would you do with your time? Is there a hobby you could take up, a way to busy your hands, be part of a community and grow joy that way? Is there a cause you’re passionate about, a wrong that needs to be put right and a need you could help fill? Is there someone that needs your friendship, a person to support them actively through a tough journey?
We shouldn’t be surprised that all these things don’t just help the people around us but help ourselves in a big way, resulting in personal growth and often changing our worldview radically. These are also the things that matter in the game of life and surprisingly don’t require us to give up day jobs to experience! These are the moments and the legacies that others will see and admire more than any number of hours spent in the office (even if the salary was to provide a ‘nicer’ house, a ‘better’ education or a 'legit' empire) because it’s not rocket science that money does not equal happiness. (Admittedly I’ve seen a few memes that have made me question that expression for example ‘Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy doughnuts and that’s basically the same thing!’ but I’m busy getting real here!)
If you’ll allow me, I’d love to be ‘that friend’ in your life that gives you tough love and challenges you to take life seriously. I want to be more intentional with my days and thinking about mortality together will be a little less scary! I challenge you to pursue more of what matters and to write a story that extends past your working hours. Write a bloody good one that reflects your ideals and unique experiences and one that you will be proud to share with your grandkids over and over and over again. Come at us, 2018!