Living the beach life these past weeks, I’ve been existing mostly in a space of “want.” Not meaning either a space of “lack” or of just slacking off and doing whatever. What it means is that when I’m considering options for how I spend my time, I’m usually choosing what I want to do instead of just what I should do.
A friend of mine pointed this distinction out to me a while ago. She realized that since becoming an adult, she has developed a soul-killing habit of forgetting to ask herself what she wanted. She was making every decision by weighing all of the things she could do, and choosing the thing she felt she should choose. The cumulative effect of that kind of decision making was that she started having anxiety attacks because she was literally never doing what she really wanted to, and she was so out of touch with what that was that she didn’t even know.
She might be an extreme case, but even someone like me who is dedicated to flexibility and freedom can fall into this bad habit. I’m a responsible adult (usually), and I absolutely love what I do for a living. Those two things mean that when I consider what I want to do with my time, it usually does relate to work or networking in some way. Still, sometimes I’ll find myself suck in a “should” cycle, accepting invitations during times I’d rather be working because the opportunity is limited and I should take advantage. Or I’ll agree to an opportunity that pays well in the short-term because I should have a certain amount of money coming in, but that steals time from working on my long-term plan.
I hope you know what I mean.
I heard someone say once that the way she’d transitioned out of a corporate job she hated and into a life as a writer that she loves is mostly by turning down invitations to have brunch or go for cocktails. She realized that she needed to ask herself whether she cared more about the opportunity or living her dream every time someone invited her out. After a while, the invitations thinned out, but she’s published so many books since then that she doesn’t care.
That’s definitely the kind of decision I had to make about taking a sabbatical to Mexico! Should I walk away from my life for six weeks? I knew I wanted to, and I had to take very careful steps to make sure that that was enough. Now that I’m nearing the end of this amazing experience, I am so glad I didn’t cave in to any worry that this was crazy or selfish or risky.
In my first few weeks of sabbatical, I had more of the structured discipline that I had envisioned before my departure. I worked consistently a couple of hours every day, which mostly meant sitting in my condo with an amazing view above my laptop. As time moved on, I met people in town and started making plans with them, in addition to my friends who were flying in. I struggle with guilt, probably like most entrepreneurs, because there is always something I could be doing. While it hasn’t been a perfect end to that guilt, I saw how life became so serendipitous as I ran into friends in town and ended up meeting key people at the exact right time. Belly-to-belly networking is my forte, and I’ll only meet people in Cabo while I’m in Cabo. I also reminded myself that my soul and inner nomad wanted this experience so intensely, and having it all come to fruition is incredibly satisfying.
Anyway… kind of a rambling blog post, but I’m wondering how you’re doing with asking yourself what you want every time you make a decision? I challenge you to start noticing how often you even think to consider your wants while you’re dealing with all of the coulds and shoulds in your life. I hope you’ll share what you discover!