The hustle of career pursuits can quickly cloud your original life vision. Constantly reaching toward what’s next, anxious to achieve the goal, salary, or title, could be stealing from your success. In the end, what’s more important: getting that VP role or living a fulfilled life?
If you’ve been questioning why you’ve strived for all things career, it may be a sign to make a change. The pandemic forced many people to pause, reprioritize, and shift their lives in ways never done before. Many learned that they’d been living a life following others’ roadmaps. Today, consider how you can begin drafting the blueprint for a new plan with your needs at the center.
1. Focus on Experiences, Not Things
American society is as materialistic as ever. Constant ads, sponsored content, and shiny social media stories put little moments of want into our minds. Pair the brain’s preference to seek pleasure with the sophisticated algorithms, and suddenly you’re swiping to keep up.
The rush of excitement at a new product’s promise of happiness, problem-solving, or beauty is usually in the driver’s seat. But have you ever thought about “why” you’re buying when you do? The next time you feel this urge coming on, pause and consider how this buy aligns with your goals.
Before this dopamine-induced rush takes over, review your habits and recent debit card transactions. If you’re seeing more stuff and fewer experiences, it may be time to shift your patterns.
Experiences offer the opportunity to connect with others, see new things, and get a taste of wonder. Beginning this practice doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. Dining out with friends, visiting a park, and coordinating a cookout can incorporate connection into your personal life.
2. Prioritize Relationships
One of life’s most rewarding parts is a human’s ability to connect, love, and care for others. Take stock of your relationships and those you’d like to work on. Romantic relationships are works in progress, but remember to look to your family tree for relationships in need of nurturing.
Consider your favorite grandparent, aunt, or cousin. If you have fond memories of years gone by, aim to reconnect as adults. Plan a lunch or coffee where you can chat and enjoy each other’s presence. Seek to cherish your time together, especially with those who may be further along in age.
Approach your get-together with the loosest plan you can manage, allowing for plenty of conversation. Catch up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives, talk about shared experiences, and learn something new. With grandparents, learning about who they were and what it was like when they were young can be fascinating. Schedule plenty of time and make your date one that’s set to repeat.
3. Get to Know Yourself
As a kid, you just lived. Then one day, adults started badgering you with questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Eventually, you landed on an answer and assimilated into traditional schooling and job-hungry narratives. But have you ever stopped to consider who “you” are?
If thinking about this question makes your head hurt, good. That means it’s time to turn inward and work on what you’re all about. This work is challenging, but focusing on what brings you joy and gives your life meaning is worthwhile.
Start by carving out time each day to sit quietly with yourself. Wake early before the rest of the house to stretch, meditate, and journal your thoughts. Practice mindfulness throughout the day as you complete tasks, work and fulfill life’s commitments. Test out some of the ideas you’ve documented in your journal and reflect on how you felt while doing them. Over time, you’ll build a body of knowledge that you can reference when choosing how to spend your time.
4. Give Back to Others
Giving is often said to be better than receiving, and it’s easy to see why when you practice it. Giving feels good, and sharing your talents and treasure can bring meaning to your personal life. Use your gifts to improve your community, help others, and share the responsibility of being a good human.
If this idea has you wondering what you could do to make a difference, try not to overthink it—serving on a community clean-up crew, volunteering at your children’s school, or using your professional talents to impact you. If your time is limited, consider sharing your resources with those less fortunate.
As you give back, make it a goal to learn more about those you are helping. Understanding the human condition is a critical component of developing empathy toward others. Plus, the more you know the root cause of widespread problems, the better you’ll be able to support their resolution. As you feel comfortable, share your experience with giving to encourage others to do the same.
Celebrate the Beauty of Every Day
An outer-space view of the Earth can bring things into perspective — literally. Our problems and perceived shortcomings are minuscule in the grand scheme of life. The amount of time we spend worrying about what others think and if our career is “good enough” is overkill. Instead, aim to celebrate the gift of what you have, even as you pursue accomplishing your goals.
Ambition isn’t a dirty word, but allowing it to overrun your life is unnecessary. You may see your other goals fall into place with the right things in the driver’s seat. Practice gratitude through all things and keep your personal life at the forefront of your decision-making.