It is so easy to get caught up in making a living that you completely forget to make a life. You may have a beautiful home, the best children, a wonderful husband, a good car, a kick-ass job that pays great, but something is inevitably missing, right? At least, for me there’s always something missing. But I think I have finally figured this one out.
It’s not materialistic things we long for. It’s not money, clothes, a new location, etc. It’s balance. We don’t have balance. We have a routine that we get so caught up in that by the time we drag our asses home from work, we aren’t motivated to do the things that actually fuel our souls. I’m guilty of having this fantasy, and projecting it on to you all, that I could just quit my job one day to go travel the world, when really that’s not even an option unless I were to sell my house and trade it in for a van (which has actually been considered more often than not).
The truth is, if we were to balance our work life with our hobbies and talents, we would probably not be so caught up in hating our every day lives. It’s hard to come home from an 8 hour work day and pick up a guitar or write a song because doing those things take time and a lot of thought. As much as I love doing them, I had totally put it all to the wayside for a while because I thought “I’m never going to make a career out of this, why am I doing it”, totally disregarding the fact that I do it because I love to. So there went my balance, and from there, work essentially consumed me, and I gradually felt myself dreading mornings, and begging 4 PM to roll around.
Don’t get me wrong, things have changed at work, drastically. I work in a, somewhat, laid back environment, and everyone who knows me well knows that if I’m truly miserable I have enough grit to change my own circumstances and move on to other things. Work does suck at times because there’s not always 8 hours worth of work to fill my time, but it does pay the bills, for now. But on the days that I come home and pick up an instrument and start writing, I feel this weight coming off of my back. I sit a little taller, I smile a little wider, and I laugh a little louder. Balance. Do what you have to do so that you can do what you want to do.
I don’t plan on ever having a traditional job besides this one. If I didn’t work where I work now, I would likely run my shop online + write freelance articles for chunk change on the side. Maybe try to get some of my songs out there and collaborate with some artists or something. But for now, a traditional job will suffice until the next adventure presents itself.
This hype about quitting your job and being able to afford to do whatever, whenever, is a sham; let’s just keep it 100. Are there people who are sponsored by large companies that pay for them to travel? Absolutely. Are there people that do what they love for a living? You bet. Are there exceptions to the rule? Mhmm. But, if I am being honest, those people still had their fair share of struggles. They still were under some obligation at some point in time in order to make ends meet. If you have a job that you can rely on for money to pay the bills and a hobby you can rely on to make you happy, you’ve got more things figured out than you give yourself credit for.
It took a long time for me to identify the “missing” piece of my own puzzle, but all along it was balance. It’s OK to do what you love, build your hobbies and nurture your talents and then go to work. It’s like living two lives. Where we mess up is when we let work invade on our personal life and vice versa. When we do that, we mix business with pleasure and I will always preach that that is an explosive combo. Keep your work life separated from things that make you happy. If work makes you happy, that is awesome. If work is just where you go to collect a pay check, that’s OK too. If you get to work every day, dreading the next 8 hours of your life, maybe there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, or maybe it’s time for a transition. And change is a good thing, don’t ever be afraid to switch it up a bit. If you need to cut your hours to make more time for your family, do that. If you need to get to work earlier so that you can leave earlier, do that. If you need to quit your job because you need to focus on yourself and you’ve saved up enough money from busting your ass already, do that.
You could feed the idea of traveling the world as an unemployed, self-made-millionaire, but even those people have their fair share of grievances. I actually saw a video the other day of an interview with an artist that I truly admire. The interview took place in this quaint little, two-story house. As the questions were being asked, she answered them but never looked at the camera because she was looking out the window at the back yard. They were asking her questions about her tour and at one point she interupted the entire interview to comment on how badly she missed having a back yard. She had been on tour, singing, doing exactly what she loved, what she worked so hard to do her whole life, and all she wanted was a back yard with grass in it.
Then there’s me, who works at writing songs and playing an instrument, far too shy to ever perform on a stage, but I work at it hoping that one day maybe I’ll build up enough confidence to give it a shot. I sit out in my grassy back yard, daily. So here we are, yin and yang, two people who want what the other has because it creates that balance. No, we cannot always have everything. But my point is that no matter who you are, what you do, where you go, you will always feel somewhat empty until you create a sense of balance in your life. Something has to fill that void. If you enjoy fitness, maybe you need to make sure that you’re getting X amount of a workout in every day or so. If you paint, pick up a brush when you get home and start creating art. If you enjoy crafts, include crafts in your every day life. I could go on. But incorporating the things that make you happiest into your every day life is the very thing that will balance it out. Just don’t make it a chore. The second it becomes an obligation is the second it no longer makes you your happiest.