Friday, January 7, 2011

Taking Stock

The past year for me has been about self-reflection and discovery. I've read a number of fantastic books and started following some incredible blogs written by people that inspire, motivate and provoke.

In "The Happiness Project" (Gretchen Ruben) I learned that it's ok to just Be Sarah. To make no apologies for the way I feel and to stop feeling guilty about not being someone that I think sometimes I should be. For example, I've stopped feeling like a loser for not wanting to go out (dancing, dinners, clubs, parties), and have embraced the happiness that a good book and a cozy blanket brings me. I honed in on some very simple things in life that make me very happy and have learned to amplify those elements in my life, like early mornings and routine. I love them both. I love having structure in my life and have built a routine around getting up early to enjoy my most favourite part of the day.

Outliers (Malcom Gladwell) showed me behind every great success is a series of great opportunity (plus 10,000 hours of hard work). He illustrates how small opportunities are available everyday, everywhere you look, but you must be willing to take action when you find them.

Smart Women Finish Rich (David Bach) gave me an understanding of personal finances plus the confidence and know-how to continue on my path to financial freedom.

Some of my favourite reading though is with the blogs I follow. Generally they are written by people with similar lifestyle goals and they write about their experiences on the path to achieving them. Alternatively , they are written by people who have already made an incredible life for themselves by unconventional means and write from more of a "how-to" perspective.

With all these resources, I've been able to paint a very clear picture of what I envision my life to be like and I have re-defined what I consider "success" . However, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all at the moment. I've got the knowledge, direction and permission (from myself) to live the life I want, but I still feel like something key is missing.

I have learned that I have the freedom to make my own choices. The freedom to set my own standard. The freedom to be as successful as I want to be.

I have all the tools, but I don't know what to build. Can you have too much of a good thing?

Many of the blogs and books I read are about how to live an unconventional life. This is a life without the confines of a conventional job and making your own rules to live your very own life. A life where you question your beliefs (to make sure they are truly yours) and challenge the status quo. A life refusing to be average.

I believe in all these things and I am working everyday towards creating a remarkable life for myself, but within all this advice, support, motivation and "ra-ra-screw-conventionalisum " I've found some conflict internally.

Looking for work: There are millions of people happy being employed by major corporations and are happy to leave their work at the office when they punch out at 5pm everyday, I don't believe I will be one of them. I don't want to become someone that works 40+ hours a week for 10 hours of productivity all for the benefit of someone else. I don't want my hard work and valuable time to get lost inside a corporate machine that doesn't appreciate either. So where does that leave me? Self-employment? What if I don't have a business plan? Or even a business idea? What if I haven't thought of a concept for my book yet? Is being a problogger something I should consider? And what if deep down I don't really want the responsibility of working for myself?

After much turmoil I realized I had just answered my own question. I don't really want the responsibility of working for myself. I finally came to that conclusion last night and immediately I applied my Happiness Project lessons and accepted that this is how I feel, and I need not apologize or feel guilty about it. There must be a middle ground.

With the relief that that decision brought, I took stock of a few other realities.

While I include traveling as an important part of my life, I have no interest in becoming location independent or escaping to a year long trip around the world. I will continue to explore the world in small savoury bites. I love where I live and will concentrating on making my life here something I don't need to escape from.

I also appreciate and understand the concept of minimalist living, but I have no intention of limiting my possessions to under 100 things, or selling all the furniture in my house except for a chair and yoga mat that I use for meditation. I have sold, given away or donated what I don't need or use regularly. I have de-cluttered and downsized and have seen how those actions can translate into taking control of what else you invite or dismiss from your life. Mass consumerism disappoints me and I think we all could benefit from a lesson in minimalism, especially when it comes to spending time on each other instead of money. However, with that said, I still look forward to buying a home and with an income secured, one of the first things I want is to upgrade my 1998 Honda with a newer more comfortable model (that's within my budget and is more fuel efficient). I won't win any points with the minimalist out there with that one... but hey, you can't please everyone.

Taking stock of how we really feel about something can bring real relief. Sometimes we get stuck and lose our forward momentum because something we think we want isn't really what we want.

Maybe John was onto something when he said "..and the truth shall set you free".

Have you ever come to terms about something you thought you wanted but were really just following a trend?

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