I've got good news, and I've got bad news.
The bad news is that there are no silver bullets in life. No simple pre-paved paths from where you are right now to where you ought to be. But if you find yourself dissatisfied when your head hits the pillow at night. If you know in your heart that you were made for more than this. If you are plagued by the ever present knowledge that life is too short for what you're doing with yours… I have some pretty incredible good news to share, too.
At any given moment, you are two steps away from clearing the path forward into something better. The first has to do with your mindset. The second has to do with your actions.
- FIRST, UNDERSTAND THAT YOU DON'T OWE YOUR UNHAPPINESS TO ANYONE. Nothing about who you are or what you do or how smart you are means that you owe a lifetime of dissatisfaction to the world. You don't owe your unhappiness to anyone and no culture of misery deserves or is served by your membership. No one, and I mean no one, is better off because you are unfulfilled at the end of the day. Your family is not served because you are living as a suboptimal version of yourself. Your spouse is not better off because you remain unhappily in your relationship. Your employer is not meaningfully successful because you are too loyal to tell them that your job is sucking the soul out of you.
You were not born with some extraordinary skill set that was meant to trap you in a high profile career that you hate. Your brilliance and diligence and loyalty do not mean that you owe the world a lifelong membership in some culture of misery-based profession. For a long, long time, I didn't understand that. I thought that I was uniquely gifted to fill a certain role in the world in law and that that somehow bound me to it even though it made me miserable. That is not the case. You are not serving anyone by not living the life that calls to you. Learn from my mistakes and don't waste the time that I did.
In short, absolutely no one is served by your unhappiness. You are not a better spouse because you are resigned to a loveless marriage. You are not acting as a great role model for your kids because you are sacrificing your own fulfillment to protect them. And there is no way that you are an optimal employee because you are resigned to sitting at a desk feeling miserable all day.
When we are unhappy, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, everyone suffers.
Understand that when I talk about these things, I'm not saying that you should be sacrificing any of these roles for superficial pleasures or short sighted gains. I am talking about real joy. Real fulfillment. You don't owe anyone or anything your chance to go pursue that. Not one person is served by your unhappiness and no one is owed a sub par version of your life.
I'm not saying that getting out of it is easy. I'm saying that you don't owe a damned person the decision not to try. The more light and joy your life brings you, the more good you will do for the rest of the planet.
- SECONDLY, GIVE YOURSELF THE MENTAL SPACE TO DREAM. Your mind will start to lead you in the right direction if you find a way to give it space to breathe. For so long I didn't allow myself to daydream because I felt stuck in my work and my life and daydreaming felt dangerous. It wasn't until I started running that my mind started to wander and I got back in touch with what I might want out of life. If you are willing to make a bit of time in your day to go for a run or a walk or otherwise occupy your body and let your mind drift, I promise you will be surprised at what happens. Don't watch television or listen to podcasts or books or otherwise do anything that will demand your mental attention. Just give yourself 20 minutes of quiet – or music if that works for you. If you don't have 20 minutes, give yourself 5. Just give yourself something. Run. Walk. Knit. Bike. Meditate. Do counted cross stitch. Cook a recipe that you know so well that you go into autopilot. Drive through the countryside alone. I don't care what it is. I'm not going to prescribe the activity because I'm not you. For me, it was running that gave me this gift. Running will do it for you too (I promise) but I'm not going to force you to take it up. Just do something that occupies your flesh and lets your mind go.
The ideas will start to perk. Your daydreams will start to creep out of the shadows and have a look around. Ideas will come and go. Don't stop what you're doing right away. The ideas that matter will pull up a chair and stay for awhile. They will develop. They will dig in their heels and help you figure out a way to execute on them. Some of them will arrive too early…make note of them for another time. Some of them will SEEM like they've arrived too early but you'll slowly figure out that there's a way to start working toward them now.
Just find something that occupies your body so that it stops fighting your mind long enough to let the thoughts that feel dangerous tiptoe out of their hiding places. Those dangerous thoughts are where the good stuff is lurking. Let them out to play. I promise it will be okay.
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If you’re planning a trip to Disney and want a fun way to rock a mask, check out my designs at TeePublic right HERE!! If you cannot or choose not to visit now and are looking for a way to bring the magic home, I’d love for you to check out my Core Memory Candle collection right HERE. And as always, stay safe and be kind, my friends.