This week’s post comes to us courtesy of Louise Warren.
I was sitting on the floor, reading Greg McKeown’s book, “Essentialism” when my mouth fell open.
There, in the pages of this book contained an accompanying visual that summed me up so perfectly, I was fearful that Mr. McKeown might have used me as research.
I should mention that this wasn’t MY floor I was sitting on and the only reason I was lucky enough to have a few spare moments to read is that the baby (that I was nannying for) was finally asleep. I felt just as tired as he did but instead of falling asleep on the job (which would’ve been the epitome of unprofessional), I was sipping my coffee and reading as an attempt to keep all well, in his world and mine.
Just a few weeks prior, I was rocking him while doing vocal warmups. Which strangely, he seemed to like. I was lucky enough at the time to have an employer who understood the value of exposing a young child to music, so oftentimes I would bring my guitar to work. I did my best to bridge the worlds – between the work I needed to do to pay the bills and the work my heart was calling for.
Many Hats Syndrome: When you’re doing too much and it’s killing you slowly.
When in actuality, I was sacrificing way too much to work multiple jobs (some that weren’t even properly compensating me for my time and energy).
I was caffeine-dependent, eating out for two of my three meals every day, and coming home way too exhausted to dedicate myself to anything else.
It wasn’t healthy and it was killing my body and my creative spirit.
Working toward your big dreams is a lot scarier than simply “staying busy.”
The sad truth? This wasn’t the first time that I experienced this pattern in my life.
It had become a defining one at that!
At one point, I even bragged in my biography (of all places) about being a “wearer of many hats”, i.e. a person who can’t say no to any opportunity.
I’ve always been a lover of learning and an embracer of new challenges (hands up, my fellow Ravenclaws) but over the past few years it had become a self-sabotaging crutch – a way to keep me “safe” but never really gaining on my true dreams. You know…the ones that were scary AF.
The issue wasn’t even that I was working multiple jobs to make ends meet – sometimes, that is exactly what we need to do to make our dream happen.
The issue was how much energy I was giving away, across the board, to things that just weren’t important at all in the greater scheme of my life. My actions were out of alignment with my goals and values.
My actions were out of alignment with my goals and values.
I wanted to create my life with as much care as I would give each lyric or chord of a song I was writing.
Living by design, not by default.
I wanted to live by design, as Greg McKeown says:
“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”
― Greg McKeown
Interestingly enough, when I actually sat down and really mapped it out, I was making more money off of my passions than I actually made from the two to three other “compensation jobs” I worked.
Especially when I considered that doing work that FELT good was energy giving, rather than draining.
I started looking at my whole schedule differently and realized that there were so many areas of my life I was allowing to stay on autopilot, rather than choosing by design.
There were volunteer positions that I needed a break from.
There were friendships that I poured too much into and with that, unnecessary drama that I got caught in like a spider’s web.
There were times I said yes to Netflix binges while neglecting the very thing that would make me feel accomplished and purposeful that day.
There were gigs I took that were not fulfilling me creatively OR moving my career forward.
The list was long. So I knew I needed to change and change fast.
How I began to live by design:
1. I took time to envision what I really wanted my life to look like. I allowed myself to dream again.
I created a Pinterest board and wrote down what a dream day might look like for me. Better yet, I kept checking in with my vision each week to see if it still resonated with me. No autopilot here! I had both hands on the wheel.
2. I wrote down the 5 greatest values in life and my personal why behind them.
Here is a list you can use: https://jamesclear.com/core-values
3. I got real about what I wanted to accomplish each quarter.
Working through my goals quarterly forced me to check in regularly and stay accountable to my dreams.
4. I checked both my values and my goals against my calendar and eliminated anything that truly wasn’t getting me closer towards my greater vision.
I released it with love, knowing the opportunity would go to the person who was waiting to cherish it!
5. Rinse and repeat.
Life is a work in progress and so are our dreams and values. I try to check in regularly with myself and see if I like the direction that I’m going in.
At the end of the day, success cannot comfort you if it’s not the kind of success that hits to the core of your values and what truly awakens you as a person.
We are here on earth to make our highest contributions and to truly live our best lives, not just whatever life is handed to us. As it turns out, that power is always in OUR hands…and sometimes in our planners.