Work, Sleep, Eat, Repeat
THE LIFE CYCLE
Last week as my daughter was rushing out the door, having just inhaled her breakfast and jammed all her bits and pieces into her backpack, she stopped mid coffee chug and turned to me and said, “Is this all there is to life? Going to work so I can pay my rent and bills, never having time to do the things I actually want to do? What’s the point?”
She asks a great question. She’s just entered the working world and she’s already feeling like it’s just one continuous cycle of struggling to make money so you can pay for things that allow you to go to work to make this money. It’s a point of view that so many people have; get up early every morning, rush through coffee and a quick breakfast, sit in rush hour traffic, work for eight to 10 hours, go home and collapse on the couch because you’re so tired from your busy day, wake up and repeat for the next four days, and the next forty-something years.
ALL LIFE IS WORK
It’s daunting to view your life as a big money making cycle like this. If you’re in the middle class, there’s a good chance that you go to work every day because you have to pay for your housing, car, loans, insurance, utilities, and healthy food (which can be costly, but necessary). You have to pay for these things because you need to sustain an environment that allows you to get to and from work every day. You probably use your weekends to catch up on things you can’t get to during the week like going grocery shopping, going to the bank, cleaning your house, and doing some yard work. If you’re lucky, you might have a little bit of time to see your friends or family. It’s easy to get burnt out and feel fed up with this work-centered lifestyle. Unfortunately, all life is work though. Even getting ready for fun or relaxing times takes work. In my experience, preparing to leave for vacations have been some of the most stressful times in life! We have to accept that unless we strike gold or win the lottery, our lives will probably always consist of a significant amount of work. Since we devote a good chunk of our lives to working, we might as well do work that we really love or enjoy. We can learn to perceive our work in a more positive way, even if you’re not in a job that you love. We can either bitch and moan about our schedule or we can learn to take it all in our stride.
IT’S ALL ABOUT MINDSET
We have to adjust our mindset and learn to make work and chores pleasant tasks. They might not be the most fun part of life, but they’re the most necessary, and sitting at your desk or job miserably watching the clock every day is not going to make it any less painful. The same goes for exercising and grocery shopping, these are the things you have more power over and can choose to make more fun for yourself. Get a grocery shopping buddy or join a really fun dance workout class like Zumba.
If you have a job you love or are passionate about, your work-centered life will just seem like the flow of your life. If you truly hate your job or are in a work situation that is unhealthy, start creating a plan today that will allow you to get out of that environment. Sit down and brainstorm how you can get yourself into a position where you can go to work and stay at work with a positive outlook every day. Maybe that means you’ll ask your boss if you can work four 10-hour days and have a day off for yourself. Maybe that means you’ll start looking for another job, or you’ll make a small change in your daily lifestyle that will allow you to save more money so you can take a much-needed vacation. For example, what about that afternoon coffee you spend $4 a day, five days a week on so you can power through until 5 o’clock? If you put that $20 away every week, you’d have $1040 saved in a year, which you could put towards something really fun, like a vacation or a fabulous shopping spree. Even if you don’t spend $20 a week on coffee, you can still put that money away into a special account for your spending pleasure later.
Summer is finally here and it’s time to make time for all the things you’ve been wanting to do. Add that to your to-do list, and make it a priority. Follow through by creating a plan of action and starting with a small step. The sooner you start making changes, the sooner you’ll have a more fulfilling life. Creating balance between work and play is what sustains us and drives us to get up every day and be a real person. Life is filled with things, activities and people that we are meant to enjoy, and only you have the power to find your own personal balance between working hard and playing hard.
12 Tips for your Livelihood
1. Determine what your attitude is towards your work, work environment and your life. What attitude adjustment might be helpful?
2. Write down the list of reasons you feel unhappy or exhausted at your job.
3. Think about whether you’re following your passions, or whether you let them fall by the wayside in the name of making money. Come up with a way to incorporate your passions back into your life, regardless of whether or not they’ll make you any money.
4. If you had just one extra hour per week, how would you spend it? Think about how you can make this activity your priority in life.
5. Write down summer 2013 goals or a “bucket list” and post them in a place where you will see them every day as a constant reminder.
6. Schedule time for a weekly goal check-in. Have you made an effort to reach your goal or had some setbacks? Evaluate what you can do differently every week to reach your goal on time.
7. Track your spending habits on non-necessities for one week. At the end of the week, evaluate how much you could save if you cut just one thing out.
8. Start packing healthy lunches instead of buying lunch at work everyday (this is financially and physically much healthier!) Prepare to be amazed at how much you save.
9. Make exercise and healthy eating habits a financial priority. Lack of these two necessities is often the reason why people are so exhausted every day.
10. Create a spending plan for your money. You’ll need to know exactly how much money you are spending and on what every month so you can create short and long-term financial goals for yourself.
11. Before walking in to work every morning, take a few deep breaths and put yourself into a positive mindset.
12. Learn to stay in the present moment as much as possible. It makes life more pleasant.