Can you keep a secret?
I really have no clue what I’m doing with my life.
I said it. It’s out.
I used to know. (I think.) I’ve always felt that my life boils down to two categories: fitness and writing. But somewhere along the way, I became closed to other possibilities and ways of living. I shut the door on really responding to choices instead of blindly making them. I let myself rest on my laurels, not daring to really get my hands dirty and escape my comfort zone.
I became…average in my execution.
And there’s just so much out there. Sometimes, it feels like too much to do, see, touch and be. Sometimes, it feels like sitting behind your computer is the new normal.
I’m tired of sitting.
We’ve all been asked those life questions that are supposed to wake us up and spur us in a different direction when we come to a crossroads: If you won the lottery, what would you do? If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do today? If you got cancer, how would you change your life? Go! Answer! Do! Be a unicorn! Live!!!!!!!!
Basically, it begs the question: How would you live life differently if you could?
In the most recent book I’m reading on my quest for figuring-everything-the-fuck-out, the authors of Work Reimagined help you uncover your calling in many different ways.
One of the simpler way is through a short, repeated question we’ve probably heard time and time again: If you had only one year to live, how would you live it?
Which got me thinking: How many people would not change a thing?
Probably not many, right? Who is out there, really living on purpose? Understanding that good days will come with bad, that there is no perfect job or relationship or moment? That it’s all collective and cumulative? That it’s all for a greater good? They drink their green tea and do their yoga and nod patiently when their toddler throws books at their heads. They have zero pores and long legs and perky boobs and a hefty savings account.
But most of us back in the stumpy leg, droopy boob, dwindling checking account world feel that work is just work. Days tumble into night and back into morning, gaining momentum like snowballs. It’s hard to stay present. Chores pile up. Laundry explodes. Dishes crust. Bills gather. Resentments build. We have arguments instead of conversations. We close up. We break down. We stop sleeping. We medicate. We eat. We drink. We react instead of interacting.
We stop looking up.
What struck me most about this question is that I couldn’t quite pinpoint how I’d change my life. I didn’t have a list at the ready, eager to pounce.
I’m really tired of thinking so much.
And doing so little.
I do know I’d like to live somewhere that inspires me. A place that pulls in the city girl and the mountain girl and the water girl and rolls her into a city-moving, nature-loving doer, who is working from a place of absolute passionate necessity. In this place, I do not deal with Nashville drivers or endless summers or fast food chains. (Or Republicans.)
For me, once my environment is right, it’s easier for the pieces to fall into place. You use less energy on complaining and more on seeing clearly.
As the authors stated: “The good life is living in the place you belong, with people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.”
There. That’s it. A summation of the holy grail of living. And doing. And working. And being.
But do you ever notice the things that you absolutely love to do, like swimming or eating or having sex, you can’t sustain for eight hours at a time? But we work for eight hours a day…every day. At least.
Which is a hell of a lot of time if you’re not doing what you are called to do.
So, why is it so hard to figure out what our calling really is? Because if we have one year to live, that’s still a lot of hours to fill, right?
How do we fill them to feel, well, fulfilled, at the end of every day?
Think of an activity you love. An activity where time passes by, and you are simply unaware of anything. You’re not thinking about how hungry or tired you are, or your to-do list. You just feel excitement and joy and inspiration.
What is that activity to you?
Does it apply to the one year test?
If I had just one more year, I know I’d be doing a lot more of this. I’d be spending ample time with my daughter, traveling the world, showing her how other people live. I’d eat ALL the food. I’d swim in all the oceans. I’d laugh a hell of a lot more and be kinder to my body. I’d take more photographs. And carry more journals. I’d make time for the people, places and things I adore and just cut out the rest.
But I’d also do some other things, I think. For instance, I really love overseeing design. Like a lot. I also love cycling. And spending time in libraries. And going to museums. I love sharing inspirations I’ve found. I love baking. And coffee dates. And eating breakfast. And writing letters. And exploring new cities. And reconnecting with friends.
So why don’t I do those things more often? Why don’t any of us do what we want with more consistency?
Maybe we get it in our heads that we will do x, y and z once we get things in financial order. We’ll take the vacation after we buckle down. We’ll buy the plane ticket if we save a little more. We’ll do what we want if we just wait a little longer. Because we have children. Because we have jobs. Because we have responsibilities.
Once, after, if, just, because.
Excuse. After. Excuse. After. Excuse.
But this is what a responsible life looks like, right? Besides, glamorous lives are reserved for twenty-something Instagram sensations.
We aren’t falling for that.
We decide who we want to be.
And then we just go be that person.
Because this might be the one year we have to change our lives, if we want them to be changed. Maybe that’s as simple as deciding to be happy. Finding the joy in your work. Asking the girl out. Having the baby. Taking the trip. Quitting the job.
Whatever it is, find it. Do it. Get clear about your intentions.
And then, like anything you finish, act. Go. Do. Be.
Stop waiting around to see who’s going to give it to you. (No one).
Stop waiting for the perfect time. (There is none.)
Stop waiting to win the lottery. (Not going to happen.)
Start controlling what you can control, which just so happens to be everything in your life.
Make the new path. Or reinvent the old one.
Just get clear about who you really are and what you really want.
And then go after it.
Because this is your year, your life, your moment.
Find the urgency.
Examine the will.
Do the honest thing.
Whatever that is for you.
Find your calling.
And then answer it.
Like you are running out of time.