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Making Time for a Well Lived Life

About a year or so ago I made a promise to stopping working so much, especially after work and on every weekend. But it didn't quite go as planned.



woman and a man on a swing at the beach laughing and in love

About a year or so ago I made a promise to stopping working so much. I had decided I needed enjoy my life more for my own sanity, and to stop putting off things for a tomorrow that was looking less and less like “tomorrow” as the years ticked by, but more and more like a “never.” But despite my best intentions and my earnest desire to make more time for living, I had a hard time making it stick.


Quitting time would roll around, but there was always one last thing I could squeeze in, just 20 more minutes and I’d have it done. An hour or two later I’d realize I’d blown my promise for more time outside of work yet again. Or I’d try to slip in a load of laundry or grocery shopping on my lunch hour to help carve out more time for later, only to come back from lunch tired and foggy.


I was losing my creative edge at work, and worse, I was losing any sense of joy or pride in that work. Every week, I’d promise myself I’d rest up and get a life on the weekend.

But then the weekend would come around and I felt like I needed to play catch up at work to get that edge back, and then there was the pressure to get all those chores done that I was too tired to get to during the week. Cleaning the floors, getting the oil changed on the car, finishing that laundry, paying bills, etc.


And I know I’m not alone in this. We all want a life well-lived, and most of us agree on the importance of carving out time to really make a life for ourselves. Time for family, for kids, for connection. Time for vacations and the memories we will hopefully make for a life time. And yet… if we really want it, why is it so hard to make room for it?


I’ll be the first to admit to the strange allure of crossing off items on the “to do” list. It’s easy, within reach, and gratifying to get things done. Not to mention, we live in a culture that rewards us for going harder and putting in crazy hours at work.


There’s a lot of pressure to belief that if we work hard today, we’ll get to play hard tomorrow.
While in theory, that seems like a smart strategy, in reality, it often works more like a hamster wheel of endless “to do” lists that’s impossible to get off of.

Where we run as fast as we can, and yet, we are forever behind. Where it never feels safe to take time off. Not for dinner, not for lunch, let alone for a vacation or family time. We live in a culture where it feels like there’s never enough money, no matter how fast we run, and there’s always the threat of someone right behind us who’s willing to run faster, and most assuredly replace us. The work place has never been more competitive or more inhuman.


And the truth is there isn’t a lot any one of us can do to change the culture. I definitely can’t change it. I can’t change inflation or wage stagnation. I can’t make it so that some us don’t have to work three jobs just to have rent (though, I wish I could). I can’t change the inequity in our world (though, I’m willing to do my part). None of that is within my singular wheel house.


But I can change some of my world, and these last few months I’ve been doing just that. No, no big vacations for me yet. Not in covid times and not with my bank account. But I’ve had time to make dinner, time to hang out with family, time to sip tea and look through cookbooks. Time to take lunch. And time to go for a walk here and there.


Time to realize that the truth is, without a life worth having, the laundry and the endless hours at work just aren’t worth it. Time to realize that you have to make time off a priority in your life, wherever you can & whenever you can, and that decision making process will be different for everybody. But, if you don’t, this culture will run you ragged.


And at the end of it, you won’t have memories, only anger and resentment and maybe sadness. I don’t want that. I’m sure you don’t either. How do we fix our priorities? How do we make having a life worth living a priority? Only you can know that fully, after all, you’re the one who’s living your life. And I fully admit, your life may not be at the same starting point as mine. But, in the name of sharing, in the name of helping, here are a few things that have been working for me.


1. Set time boundaries for the work week. And honor them.


I can’t do much about a boss that constantly asks you to stay later or work overtime. But if it’s you who’s making you work late and on weekends then you need to learn to set up time boundaries. Make a commitment to leaving at quitting time, regardless of whether or not you can get one more thing done.


The same goes for weekends. Make your days off, truly days off and leave the work in the office. Learn to fight that voice in your head judging you for leaving on time, or leaving something undone (that can easily be done tomorrow).



2. Don’t multi-task. Do one thing at a time as much as possible.


Give yourself and your brain the gift of your full attention, whenever you can. You can get more work done in less time, and with better results by letting yourself have focus time, that is uninterrupted time to work on a big project or spreadsheet without email or phone interruptions.


And if you work from home, make sure you have focus time without all the little chores it’s so tempting to slip into your day, like going ahead and trying to do just one little load of laundry in between emails. Save housework for after hours. Now granted, this isn’t always possible. Some days, with kids at home, or multiple things going on at once you have to multitask. But make those times as infrequent as you can. Your brain will thank you.



3. Get an after work routine to help you shift from work to slow time.


If you don’t have a little routine to help you turn off your work brain, it’s all to easy to go from racing around at work, to racing around at home, even when it’s not necessary. Drop your keys, light a candle, put on some music, change your clothes, pour a glass of something nice. Go outside for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get a regular routine to help you down shift and get some rest when you aren’t at work.


4. Start a list of activities and fun things to do on your time off.


Or you will default back to your “to do” list,, and to that urgent voice in your head telling you that there is work to be done. A lot of time, especially on weekends, we don’t exactly know what to do with ourselves when we have free time, so we default to our “to do” lists.


And lets be real. Checking off things on the “to do” list feels good. It activates are sense of achievement. It’s easy and clearcut. But making memories? Creating a solid community within our family and friends? That’s less easy to define and accomplish.


So setting up a list of things you’d list to do on time off can help with the weekend blues or feeling of aimlessness that can come. Books you used to love reading, books you want to read, drives you’ve always wanted to take, a beautiful cookbook you’ve never cooked from. A winery you’ve always wanted to go see. Taking up Italian or painting.


5. Make it a group effort. Don’t go it alone.


Our lives were meant to be lived in community. Making slowing down a group effort, and including our family and friends can make your promise to make a life worth living outside of work really stick. Plan for activities with others. Even small things, like sitting down to eat together or making a meal together, can build connection and memories.


6. The most important thing: Find your why.


The biggest motivator to make time off from work stick? Your why. How will having time away from work change your life and make it a life well lived? Do you have kids that are slipping away from you, that you know are growing up so fast? Do you have family memories you long to make? Do you have dreams that have been on the back burner for years or maybe even decades? Like traveling or writing, of finding the one?


Whatever it is that is motivating you to read this, to want this, find it, write it down and put it somewhere you can see it daily. Having a big why, makes saying no, and having boundaries and honoring them much, much easier. It gives you a north star to follow, and connect to, even when you’re feeling fear, or the voice telling you have to work harder starts up again.



I hope that helps, in fact, I hope it motivates you. If it did I’d love to hear from you in the comments, but even more than that I would love to have you sign up, like and follow on Facebook, the blog or Instagram. Your engagement, likes and follows really do mean the world to me, and further they help me get the word out.


Thank you for reading along and following!


Talk to you next week,


Desiree Sommer






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2件のコメント


ゲスト
2021年9月02日

lovely

いいね!

Maryann Haas
Maryann Haas
2021年9月02日

I like the one to six points that give a person a concrete way to achieve this. I think that everyone should sign uo for your blog because it is so inspirational and motivating!! Plus, it is just fun!

いいね!
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