I had an epiphany a couple of months back. For as long as I could remember, I’ve had goals and dreams and an ideal life in mind. I’ve spent damn near every day trying to get closer to those ideals. And then one day I realised, it wasn’t working. Something was just…off. I wasn’t actually allowing myself to recognise the good. I was so busy chasing the next thing, trying to edge myself further and further up that sliding scale of success that I didn’t even recognise when I was being successful. My solution? I hit pause and decided to just live my life and enjoy it.
That sounds simple enough, but in a culture that’s all about drive and success and building brands and entrepreneurship and making something of yourself, taking a step back from that and saying ‘actually, I’m just gonna chill for a minute’ can be a little disorienting.
For years, I’ve been a writer. I dreamed of being a writer for magazines, and when that didn’t really happen, it was alright because I got my own thing going on the internet. Still, I’d love to be a columnist for a paper or glossy mag, I’d love to write a book, I’d love for my blog to get a gazillion hits a day. Every day, for years, I have been firing on all cylinders trying to make these things happen in one way or another.
I was trying to do so much, I actually just felt as though I was achieving nothing. I couldn’t keep up with the standards I was setting for myself and found I kinda just constantly felt a bit shitty. I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t trying hard enough, I’d never get there.
Meanwhile, I got superly into fitness. I got qualified as a spin instructor and was teaching classes. Gradually, more and more people came to those classes and over recent months, I regularly sell out my time slots. Turns out, not only was this a nice bit of income for me, but put me in a room, give me a mic, a stage, some bikes and a bunch of sweaty people and I will ROCK it. I’m a really frikkin’ good spin instructor. And few things in life have brought me more joy than inspiring, motivating and encouraging people to channel their awesome through sweat.
But, I wouldn’t allow myself to claim it, because I’m supposed to be a writer, right? I’ve set all these goals for myself and the spin thing wasn’t really a part of it. It was just this thing on the side. I was so committed to the label of ‘writer’, I refused to acknowledge where my energy had actually been flowing and prospering the past few months.
Until I did.
One day, during a conversation with my dad, I realised all this and said ‘screw it, I’m gonna stop putting all this pressure on myself.’ It’s possible for me to be a writer and a kick ass spin instructor. I’m not failing if I’m able to do both. And these two things both represent vital elements of who I am as a person. I can’t sideline one in favour of the other.
So rather than chasing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, I decided to just live in the moment, let life unfold as it will and allow my energy to flow whichever way life takes me.
Lemme tell ya people, the last few months I’ve felt happier, more comfortable and confident in myself and have been enjoying life probably more than ever before.
I still have goals, dreams and aspirations, absolutely, but they no longer define me. They no longer dictate every aspect of my life. As I discovered, sometimes, the universe is really trying to push you towards something and if you keep resisting because you’re completely committed to this ideal you’ve built for yourself in your head, you’ll miss the good stuff.
You’ve got to be open. You’ve got to let yourself go with the ebb and flow. Life will throw stuff at you that will put all kinds of spanners in the works of your life plan. Don’t ignore the spanners – they might be there to help you build something else.
Allow yourself to be all you can be. It’s OK for your goals, dreams and aspirations to change and morph and take you in different directions.
Just go with the flow, man.