Ever feel as though you work too hard? Dream of living a life of indulgence with the ones you love, doing only the things that bring you happiness? With the toughest decision of the day being what your next meal will be?
Sometimes, as I ponder over tough decisions, I wish I could look into the future. I wish that I could possess a crystal ball and have some sort of confirmation as to knowing I’m making the right decisions. That I’m on the right path. That I’m simply doing what I am ‘supposed’ to be doing. But then again I think that this is the exciting part of life. The pure unknown. The surprises, the twists, the turns, the positive and the negative. Paving your own way, building your own unique fairytale, or as close to it as can be; your life. Of course we are all guilty of making mistakes along the way, but it is in these experiences that we learn, we gain confidence and we develop our own unique personalities. We learn from past choices, reflect and move on to make wiser decisions for the future.
I’m sure I am one of the most indecisive people on this planet. Things such as what to cook for dinner, if I should buy pretty new black or red shoes or what to wear to work each day prove to be arduous nail-biting tasks. That’s just me. I’m the same when it comes to seeing the end of something. I’m a last-minute finisher. Since being honest with myself about being a natural procrastinator, I have learnt to use this skill efficiently. And I believe it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad trait. I now know how to ‘plan’ successfully to do things at the last minute. It’s just how I am.
At some point in our lives we all find ourselves struggling with the concept of the ‘happiness’. Not to be overlooked as a simple concept mind you. I aim to seek happiness in my life each and everyday. This in itself, surprisingly enough, can be quite difficult in our materialistic and economic driven society. I find myself struggling with the concepts of wanting to do what I like each and everyday yet feeling the pressure from society to conform to a ‘structured’, ‘regimented’ and ‘routine’ based lifestyle. Remember I said I’m a last minute, indecisive procrastinator? Structured, regimented and routine are not qualities in which I strongly associate with, without much practise or discipline (I’m a Pisces!).
After travelling, it has become clear to me that we Australians and Americans work too hard. We don’t have a siesta in the middle of the day, close our stores to go surfing or replace the trading hours sign with the likes of ‘be back soon’ or shut up shop every Sunday as if it were a public holiday. Since travelling to all these different countries, experiencing all these different cultures and ways of life, I am now reflecting on my own. No longer does the full time 5 days a week grind appeal to me. Nor does the concept of living in one place. Some may call this lazy or crazy but I like to rather think of it as a sense of enlightenment; having the courage to live in a way that seeks to bring happiness each and everyday, for all we know, we are not sure when our last breaths will be.
A Croatian sign reading something to the likes of: ‘Summer Work Hours. Hours At A time’.
I’m pledging to you to reflect on your own life. Are you truly happy in your own lifestyle? Do you spend enough time with your kids? Or are you a contributor to a society in which we simply work the best years of our lives away? I have promised myself since travelling I am no longer going to conform to the trap of materialism. Working hard everyday just to pay bills to have nice things, yet lead an uneventful life filled with days being wished away.
Don’t get me wrong I love my career, I love my job, I am more than thankful for my university degree. I know that we could all dream about winning the lottery and not having to work another day in our lives. But that’s reality; we all have to work. But does reality have to be an extensive chore? For most people, that chore lasts for at least eight hours a day, for five days a week. Did you know that amounts to around 2000 hours spent on your working lifestyle, out of the 8760 hours in a year? Don’t forget if you get an average of 8 hours sleep a night, that accounts for another 2000 hours per year. This means you have just over 4500 hours a year to spend on leisure, cooking, eating, exercising, socialising, attending appointments, holidays and other activities.
Society has pressured us to take on more and more each day, until we have become so overwhelmed to the point that we feel ‘there’s simply not enough hours in a day.’ The quick fix answer to this is being ‘time-wise’. Surely we can’t continue like this forever. Surely we need a change. We need to change.
People need to accept that there is no magical age number that we need to aspire to to achieve our goals by. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a house by the time you are 25, not married to the man of your dreams by the time you are 27 or have kids by the magical age of 30. Each to their own. The trouble with the society in which we live is that we are pressured to ‘know what we want to be’ upon finishing school. Then we attend university straight away, study for a number of years and attempt to get the best possible job after graduating, all by our early 20’s. 20’s!!!
Thirty years later you wake up with a job you loath, kids – which lets face it life suddenly changes to be all about them and you find yourself with a nice little mortgage. You feel depressed, wonder who you are and realise that there are many things in life that you wish you did when you were younger or that you simply had more time and energy to do now. You should be enjoying your life. Not tolerating stressful relationships, not tolerating unrealistic work loads, not tolerating unhappiness. You should be excited to be alive today and each and everyday!
This is why I have cut back on my own personal workload over the past few years. I’ve taken more trips, found more time for things that inspire me and spend more time on things that make me happy. It may mean that yes you have to take a pay cut, but it may mean that now you have time to make money from things you once considered as hobbies. You will also have more time to do the things you love and spend more time with loved ones. That’s got to be a priority. Time and health are things money can’t buy.
Life truly is too short. We are only here for a very short time and in the end; we do really just regret the things we didn’t do or the experiences we didn’t have. Regrets scare me more than the concept of failing. That’s why I’m seeking to make the most of each opportunity, do ALL of the things that I hope to in my lifetime, live in different places and live a life of no regrets. I hope to live a life of happiness, the best way that I can.