I’m a project person. What I mean by that is I always have to be and want to be working toward something. Starting a company, training for a marathon, buying a house. Personally and professionally, when I don’t have a goal in front of me, I get restless.
I don’t remember what it’s like to be comfortable. Comfortable is closely synonymous to complacency, at least in my mind, and the last thing I want to do is coast through life.
That being said, I openly admit and realize that this drive I have is extremely demanding, and can honestly be unhealthy. While it keeps me motivated, always having something looming in distance, always looking to the horizon, never allowing myself to be fully satisfied, can be incredibly stressful.
We talk constantly about taking action. Creating. Making shit happen. Doing big things.
But today I’m wondering, when is it okay to settle in? When do you allow yourself to breathe? When do you stop working on living so you can start actually living?
On one hand, you want to do it all, to have it all, to continue on your own path of world domination where nothing and no one will hold you back.
But on the other, you need to relax. You want to enjoy time with friends and family. You want to travel. You want to be able to close the computer and put your phone down without feeling guilty. You want to waste a day playing Skyrim on Xbox without stressing about the work you didn’t get done (okay, that last one might only apply to me).
Now more than ever, I’m realizing that in true “project-person” fashion, one of the most important projects I’ve been neglecting is allowing myself to settle in. To relax. It’s not about complacency, it’s not about comfort, it’s about living.
(1) Reverse your schedule priorities: My friend Amber shared on her blog this week how she schedules in spontaneity and “play” time. We bounced a couple emails back and forth, and it’s my belief that we (collectively) have our scheduling priorities backwards.
Instead of scheduling all your meetings and work stuff first – open up your calendar, and schedule in “fun” or otherwise enjoyable/relaxing activities. Block out time for workouts. Book yourself to play Xbox. Schedule in time for writing. Whatever gives you solace, get it on your schedule. Make it a priority, and stick to it.
(2) Embrace (some) routine: There’s little things in my life, routine things, that I cherish. Maybe it’s because most of my day is so dynamic and diverse that I’m starved for some structure and routine (I’ve talked about the “freedom” myth before). Things like having coffee with my wife while watching the Today show: I sit in my comfy chair, she sits on the couch, and Cowboy (ehem, our dog) hops back and forth between us making sure he splits his lap time equally between mommy and daddy. It sounds so basic, but it’s little things like this – an hour here or an hour there, that force me to put everything else aside and be present in the moment.
We’re led to believe that “routines” are for suckers – and it’s true, if you’re stuck on the same carousel day in and day out, it’s going to get old and you’re going to hate it, but we shouldn’t be afraid to instill a little comfortable structure to our lives.
(3) Give yourself credit: Don’t be so damn hard on yourself! I make an effort to be retrospective in realizing that I’ve accomplished a lot. A whole lot. And I’m 26 years old. It’s easy to think you’re not doing enough when you’re down in the trenches of the day to day, always telling yourself you can do more, but that (negative) mentality forces you to think about what you haven’t done yet. What you “should” be doing. How you “can” be doing more.
Instead of setting expectations that are impossible to live up to – focus on the things you have accomplished and are doing, and celebrate those successes.
As important as it is to leave a legacy, don’t leave your mark as someone who accomplished everything, but forgot how to live.