“What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” ~Unknown
A few years ago I was on the busy track. I was working a corporate nine-to-five job, studying at night, and trying to keep up a busy social life. I thought I was achieving it all by doing so many things at once, but really, I was just burning myself out.
My life was a busy blur. I’d start my weeks feeling tired and end them completely exhausted. Time was a constant challenge. I was always rushing from one thing to the next, and in the little down time I gave myself off, I’d be so completely exhausted that all I could do was slump into the lounge chair and fall asleep in front of the television.
Between working a high-pressure full-time job, studying my nights away, and maintaining a busy social life on the weekend, there was little time for me to just be. In the midst of the daily rush, there was no reflection or alone time. There was just busyness.
Feeling this way, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was not what I wanted for myself. I was rarely happy or at ease, and I was feeling the strain big time. I pushed myself for answers and I realized that my pursuit of “doing it all” was in vain. I simply wasn’t happy.
I wasn’t enjoying my job, and although it paid well and had some great career prospects, it drained every ounce of enthusiasm I had and left me dry.
It would leave me feeling so dry that I’d throw myself into action during every ounce of time I had spare, to the point of exhaustion, as if to try and salvage those wasted forty-plus hours a week I’d spent at work.
I was studying a design course three nights a week to make up for my lack of passion for my job and I was out all weekend drowning my sorrows, rewarding myself for just getting through another lackluster week.
It was madness and something I couldn’t keep doing. Every day drained me and ate away at me just a little more, but still, time went on. The days became weeks and the weeks flowed into months.
I wanted to jump off the busy train, but making a change was hard. Though I knew that my job wasn’t where my passions lied, I couldn’t just throw it all in and quit. I had bills to pay and my love of design was just that at the time—a love, not a moneymaker.
I struggled for months with this decision, thinking of every possible way I could make things work. But none of them compelled me to action. The truth was, I was scared.
Right when I was almost at breaking point, salvation came for me in the form of a company restructure. Cuts were being made and I was called up for retrenchment.
My retrenchment was a blessing in disguise. While I was worried about how I would make it work, I knew it was the push I needed to live a simpler life, more in tune with my passions.
With this in mind I was convinced I could make it happen. I decided, then and there, that I would pursue my studies full time to do what I loved and work whichever other jobs I needed to work to make it happen. I started looking for part-time office jobs, and to my surprise, there were some great ones.
Within a month I’d found the perfect part-time job that would let me launch into my studies with full force while still making ends meet. I’d have to make some tough cuts to my spending to make it work, but I knew I could.
The tradeoffs were tough at first, and living my newfound modest lifestyle wasn’t always easy, but it was more than worth it. What I soon realized was that for all the material things I’d lost, I’d gained the most valuable thing of all: the freedom of my own time.
I now had time to breathe, think, and live.
Today I’m living a simpler life, one of freedom and choices. I’m still actively doing things every day, but I’m doing things I truly love.
With my design diploma in hand, I’m working as a fashion designer and writing about my creative journey on my very own website. I’m living with joy and I no longer feel busy and stressed. Instead, I am energized and passionate.
We can get so caught up in the pursuit of busyness that we forget what we are losing. In busyness we lose our freedom, our options, and a little piece of ourselves.
Time is freedom. It enables you pursue your dreams and go after what you love. How you spend it determines whether you experience happiness or not. And at the end of the day, it’s all you really have.
Jump Off the Busy Train and Reclaim Your Joy
If you want to jump off the busy train to make a change to a simpler, more passion-filled life, here are three things you can do:
1. Take the change step by step.
Instead of launching right in and quitting your job without a solid plan, make sure you have everything in place to make it work.
Look into your options for part-time work or more flexible working arrangements, like working different hours or from home. Weigh up your viable options to free yourself from busyness and determine how you can make it work financially.
2. Accept a better outcome, even if it’s not the perfect one.
We would all love to jump in and pursue our passions full time but often it’s not practical, at least not from the outset. Instead of striving for perfect, find a better outcome in the short term.
It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing approach. Right now, it might mean pursuing a passion on the side. In a years time, it might mean transitioning to a part-time working arrangement. Sometimes, good things take time.
3. Scale back in other areas of your life.
There is always give and take in life, and if you want to move toward a simpler, more passion filled life, there are going to be tradeoffs.
Scaling back might involve selling your car, moving into a smaller house, and cutting back on meals out. These might all sound like big changes, but the reward you will receive every day from living in tune with what you love will far outweigh the sacrifice.
If you’re feeling the weight of busyness in your life, challenge yourself to slow down. Don’t sell your life to the highest bidder, trading your time for dollars at the expense of your own happiness and joy. Reclaim your freedom and find a way to do what you love. Your happiness depends on it.