This one goes out to anyone wondering what the heck they’re doing with their life
I don’t have the answer. But keep reading, because I want to tell you something.
It’s about time, and how to make it count. I’ve written before about the bullshit that is the ‘cult of busy’ and I’ll echo some of the same sentiments. Namely that time is democratic: we all have 24 hours in a day, divided up into the same hours and minutes and seconds and nanoseconds. We just don’t know how many of those days we’re allocated, so we all know that we better make them count.
Thing is, though, that life gets in the way. Right? There’s stuff that needs to happen, work that needs to be done. But I want to ask you this: what really, truly needs to be done?
I ask, because I had to ask myself the same thing today. I’ve been away from my work for the best part of two weeks. There is a pile of all this stuff I need to do, amassing by the day. I could feel my heartbeat increasing at the thought of it all.
It somehow felt important to spend time listening my kids chat while they ate breakfast.
If felt important to look up for thirty seconds and gaze into the sky.
It felt important to play with my dog for just a minute, and experience genuine joy at his playfulness and slavering enthusiasm.
It felt important to write my dad an email about something that I haven’t been able to tell him for fifteen years.
It felt important to give myself a minute, after that.
It felt important to talk to my friend Liz this morning before she goes on holiday.
It felt important, rather than rushing back after the gym, to float in the pool for a couple of minutes and clear my mind.
The work will get done. Of course it will. But the work of being human, of being the best ‘me’ I can be needed to happen first. Time is neither our friend nor our enemy; it just is. But the present moment is ours.
You may be thinking, “when does this woman ever do any work? Get real, sister. You don’t have my asshole of a boss breathing down your neck.” And fair enough, I don’t. But that’s by design, not lucky happenstance. I’m a single mother, I have creative ambitions and I know that as such, it’s important to have control of my time. That’s why I choose the (relative) uncertainty of self-employment. That’s why I choose to live outside of London these days. I choose. I choose, so that I can choose.
We can all choose. I believe this. Whatever you do, choose. Whether it’s at a tiny level, or at a mind-blowing, life-changing level. Rip up your to do list and ask yourself what work really needs to be done right now. Let your human-ness, your relationships, your need for expression and for a life lived fully get in on the act when it comes to priorities. Reclaim your lunch hour. Take back your evenings from the screens that try to suck hours from you. Make the moments count.
I know you know this. I just wanted to remind you. But if you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing with your life, maybe it’s time to ask: what really, truly needs to be done in your mysterious allocation of days and hours and minutes and seconds and nanoseconds?
Answer that question in the most human terms you can, and bam! You’re looking your purpose right in the eye.