I met up with a colleague from an ex-work place about four months ago. We talked about how different our lives are from what it used to be just five years ago and where our careers have led us today. After an hour or so, she looked at me intently and asked me “so what’s your plan?” to which I simply stared back. I had a million thoughts running through my head though – what plan, should I have a plan, is it bad that I don’t, what does it mean if I don’t have a plan, should I make up one right now just for the heck of it. I couldn’t think of any one thing that would suffice and instead, I replied with a big fat “no”.
I didn’t think about it much for the next couple of days until two weeks later, yet another person asked me the same question. Once again, I responded with a “no” but this time, I felt a tad concerned about what I had just said. Why didn’t I have a plan? If people are going to ask me about it, perhaps I should? And what does it say about me if I don’t?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the question actually posed was “what can I do with my time that’s important and make it fulfilling?”
Finding an answer to this question is a far better one to tackle than the previous one which honestly made me feel like an idiot. I don’t have to sit on my bed contemplating the significance and importance of my life; instead all I have to do is find out what feels important to me, and what makes me happy. And this is exactly what you should find out for yourself too.
You see, because life isn’t about what everyone is posting on social media or what I had for my last meal, or the last time I watched a dumb television series or went to work and felt a bit undervalued. A purposeful life is about the moments that make you forget about the bad things, and instead make you feel like you’ve not lost much time. It fills your hours and days with gratitude for the life you breathe.
I understand that sometimes differentiating work and life isn’t possible. Your passion and drive towards the career you’ve built and are building make it hard to separate and that’s okay. Rather, come to an understanding that they both go hand in hand. This way, every working moment is also fulfilling and will bring you joy. I look at millennials who are a couple of years younger to me and have realized that they tend to blur the line between work and life and strike a balance. Instead of compromising on one, they make sure both complement one another and view it quite holistically.
It is imperative that you spend your time wisely; however, sitting at home, doing nothing every now and then is not such a bad thing either. For many of us, old fashioned complacency can be disastrous; we fall into a routine that serves no purpose, we distract ourselves and end up doing absolutely nothing. I’ve told myself that I want my life input to reflect on my life’s output. As much as I like working hard to receive that paycheck at the end of the month, I also will ensure I put it to good use (add a quarter every month to my savings and spend some of it on traveling and seeing my country). These ideals can change from one person to another, and that’s perfectly alright as long as you find opportunities to be engaged by the challenges that come your way, and you continue to be engaged and energized.
I think I initially panicked because I had forgotten how much of an impact the choices I make in life can have on not just myself, but also the people around me. Know what you value because this will help you understand what’s important to you and how it makes you feel.