What are the things in life that are the most important to you? Why are you here? What do you want to do with your life? How can you make sure that you are living in a way that reflects your values? Getting to the bottom of these questions can help you make the most of your life, but at the same time, all the daily obligations that go into living can make it difficult to figure any of this out.
Between work, family, and other obligations, you might often feel as though you are running as fast as you can just to keep up. How on earth will you find the time for this kind of musing when it’s all you can do to stay on top of the things you have to do? Maybe right now isn’t the best time. Perhaps you are genuinely just keeping your head above water.
But if that’s the case, make an appointment with yourself a few weeks or months from now, and keep it. Even if it means squeezing in time on a commute or getting up an hour early for a few mornings, it will be worth it. After all, you only have one life to live, so you should make the most of it.
You’re going to need to take some time for yourself for these first steps. Ideally, you can take a mini-vacation and set aside a weekend or even longer, but you don’t have to. However, you probably are going to need to take some quiet time that is more than 10 minutes here or there because you really do need to disengage and let your mind wander if at all possible.
There is a lot to think and journal about. What is your passion? What do you want your loved ones to remember about you? What brings you joy and makes you feel alive? What are your values?
The Balancing Act
One thing that you are likely to discover as you do this thinking and writing is that there is not just one thing that is important to you. There are several things. People often say that you should prioritize, but if your family matters most to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can quit your job to spend more time with them. Sometimes, prioritizing them will mean prioritizing your job. You can’t spend every single moment of your time focused on the thing that you are most passionate about because you still have to do the routine business of running your life.
A better way to approach balancing competing interests is to think in terms of what your priority is at any given moment. At 10 AM. on a Monday morning, it might be giving a good presentation at work so that you can keep your job and support your family, even if the presentation is not what you’d really like most to be doing at that moment. However, what you may discover with this balancing act is that there are things you can do to bring all of your priorities more into alignment.
Make a Plan
If your family is your priority, what if you could take a job that would help you spend more time with them? For example, if you were a teacher, you would have summers free with your children. On top of that, maybe you really always liked history or literature but it seemed more practical to study something like business.
However, you could go back to school to become a history or literature teacher. Your next step is to make a plan. Is there a college or university nearby, or can you take some classes online? You probably also need to figure out how you are going to pay for your degree. You can look into various funding options, including grants and scholarships. Another option is private student loans, and if you go to this site, you can read more about your options, including your eligibility and what interest rates are like.
While the earlier steps may have seemed a little more abstract, this is where you take what you learned from them and make a concrete plan. Maybe you’ve realized that you love how running and cycling make you feel and that you really want to spend more time being active and around others who are active. This could mean anything from joining a running club to signing up for a triathlon to pursuing a new career as a personal trainer. What matters most here is that your plan connects to your earlier insights about what matters to you and that you have identified the specific steps that you need to take.
Keep Checking In
You and your life will always be a work in progress. The insights that set you on a path now may change in a decade, or your life circumstances may change. For example, you might be focused on spending time with your children now, but eventually, they will grow up, move out and start families of their own. This doesn’t mean you need to scramble to plan for future possibilities. Instead, you should keep returning to the methods and ideas from the start of this article.
Take time out to reflect on what you want, what matters, and how your life reflects your values. Maybe you’ll decide that you value having more say over how you spend your time, and that will mean starting your own business. You could set off on a second, third, or fourth career. Don’t get frustrated at yourself if you change your mind down the road about what’s important to you or if you feel like you can’t quite get your life in alignment. What’s right for you now might not be in a few years, and things will never be perfect. Let this be liberating rather than discouraging, knowing that you don’t have to get it just right in order to improve. Keep checking in with yourself to see how you feel about where you are and whether it’s time to make some changes again.