We all have goals. And dreams. And places we want to see. There’s the people we want to meet. The life we want to live. And the plans we have to make it all happen. But time after time, many of us find excuses or get stuck in comfortable routines, so much so that our intricate plans are set aside for another day. Or no day at all. Sadly, this is the way many of us live, myself included. Three months ago, I was faced with terrible back pain, piles of stress, and the harsh realization that my work driven lifestyle was taking a toll on my body. All at once, it became painfully clear that I couldn’t keep up with my own self defined pace for much longer.
It was obvious that some sort of change needed to happen, but alas, old habits die hard. As most would, I asked myself many “what if” questions. What if I took on less work? What if I bought a spur of the moment plane ticket to Hawaii and just relaxed for 7 straight days? What if I ate healthier? Each question was promptly answered with some sort of excuse and simply forgotten about the next day. The idea of change, however, kept coming back to me and weighed heavily on my mind ( and my back ) for some time. So finally, I decided to break routine. Because really, if something isn’t working … maybe it’s time to try a different approach.
So that’s what I did. I asked myself what needed to change, wrote down some honest goals, and stopped my train of thought right there. Instead of allowing my mind to sweep in with those ever familiar “what if” questions, I stood firm. And without any excuses in the way, clarity set in. I ended up with four simple truths, WORK LESS, DESIGN LESS, TEACH MORE, AND TRAVEL MORE, all of which made complete sense. For me, they felt good. And very very right.
Sure, I could have easily given myself reasons to walk away from each and every one of those goals. Questions like “You can’t work less because what if something major happens and you can’t pay the bills?” Or “You’re a designer, why would you want to design less?” Or “You didn’t get a degree in education, what makes you think you can teach people anything?” Or “Traveling is EXPENSIVE. You can’t go everywhere.” Excuses, like these, hold us back, even when we really should be moving forward. Perhaps it’s time you kick those “what if” questions to the curb, too? I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m not alone.
Now, I realize all of this is easier said than done. It’s not easy to negate excuses and escape routine. For many of us, simply writing down some goals and stopping there is a good first step. Over time, we’ll learn that excuses don’t always have to be excuses. And dreams can become a reality. I have my own goals written down on a piece of paper and look at them everyday. They remind me that I DON’T need to live with excess stress and overwork myself on the daily. Instead, I can design + work with purpose. Teach what I’ve learned to others. Go see Iceland someday. Enjoy long dinners with good friends. Consider sporadic road trips. You know, stuff like that. I’ve opened my mind to the possibility of it all and am no longer interested in telling myself “NO” all the time. So what about you? Write down your thoughts. Share it with others. And most importantly, be honest + open with yourself. That’s key.