I’ve noticed some things about people who are truly happy with their lives. The first thing is that they’ve been an active participant in deciding what kind of lifestyle they want and have put out the effort to design it. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t… but being an active participant in making lifestyle decisions has actually affected their happiness.
Now, this does not mean “deciding what stuff you want” or “who you want to be with” or “how far you want your career to go”. These may be milestones or part of your “5-10 year plan”, but they’re not what makes up your lifestyle… your lifestyle is something else – arguably, more important. It’s the fairly simple topic of “how you spend your time”, and that’s what I’d like to focus on.
Your job, even though it is what you spend roughly half of your waking hours doing, is only part of your lifestyle equation – and I just want to touch on it briefly in order to say: If you’re truly unhappy in your current position, then you’re probably not doing your best anyway, and both you and the company you work for would be better off if you endeavored to find a better-fitting job. However, given the current economic state, most of us are simply glad to be employed, and don’t intend to make any changes in this area. If, on the other hand, you already find yourself on the short-end of the economic-stick, regardless of where your head is at the moment, the questions I want you to ask yourself… think about… and answer honestly… do not require changes in your employment in order to make conscious decisions about your lifestyle. You may be surprised at how much of your time you really do have control over.
Please answer each of these questions for yourself… then decide what steps you can take to get closer to your answers. I’ve organized most of these questions in small groups. Some may be easier to answer than others, and some may require you to think of the group of questions before you know how you would answer each one. Ready?
(Disclaimer: the below questions are based around the assumption that your ‘flex time’ fits around a full-time, daytime job. Adjust them as needed to make them more appropriate to your situation!)
Overall, what do I want from a lifestyle? How do I see my days unfolding? How do I want them to unfold?
What do I want from my mornings?
[Remember to answer these questions for yourself… for example: I decided that I wanted an extra 30 minutes of peace each morning before starting my day. This is something I have control over regardless of what time I actually go to work.]
What do I want from lunch?
Do I want Company or would I prefer to dine solo?
Where: home, out, at work?
How does my lunch affect the rest of my day – what should I be eating?
What do I want to do immediately after work?
Do I want to eat right away or do something else for a while?
How active should that “something else” be?
How many other people, if any, should be involved? And, how frequently?
How do I want to spend my evenings?
How do I want to spend my weekends?
What about my eating / drinking habits?
How much of my lifestyle do I want to dedicate to crafting my ideal eating / drinking regiment?
How often do I want to travel? For how long? And how far away?
How self-sufficient do I want/need my household to be?
What about extra-curricular activities? Both recreational and side-occupations?
How much time do I want to dedicate to these things?
Every week or more occasional?
What would I do with my time if I didn’t need to buy anything at all and had zero errands? In other words, what would I do with my time if it were mine to use… if it weren’t taken up by other tasks?
How similar or different are my answers when compared to what I currently do with my time?
What can I do this week to change at least one difference?
This is just a start, but it’s a good one.
It may sound silly, but actually giving this topic some thought can go a long way. You may find that you start guiding yourself toward living a fulfilling lifestyle instead of simply reacting to what’s going on around you at any given time. Even in small doses, this can be a very positive thing.
Go forth, and live decisively.