Think about your deathbed. That seems a bit odd, but stay with me here. When you reach the end, what do you want to say about the life you lived? Do you want to say, I wish I had dedicated more time to x-hobby or y-person? Do you want to feel remorse for not having accomplished dreams or goals? Do you want to say, I didn’t do all the things I wanted to do, I’m not ready to go yet? Of course not, no one wants to say those things. However, most of us do.
Many of us reach the end of our lives and feel a blend of equal parts regret, shame and guilt. For in having the gift of life, we render it insignificant by not honoring it. Sadly, a large percentage of our lives is spent idling, floating around, getting by or working. In fact, work occupies the majority of our waking lives. And some have gone so far beyond working hours, they have been labeled workaholics.
You don’t want to be that person, the one who put work before family, self or dreams. Despite the fact that in this very moment, you might be that person, fear not—you can change.
The answer lies in dying. As you imagine your death, your last few moments, what might be missing to complete your life’s vision? Contemplate what you want to accomplish, who you want to be, where you want to go.
In order to facilitate a life more focused on happiness, consider these suggestions. And enjoy.
You are way more than a title at work.
Work doesn’t define you. At least, it shouldn’t. Our answer to the question, Who are you? is usually followed with what we do at work. But who are you, really? What you do outside of work is what truly defines you. Work titles serve to boost ego and distract personal journeys. Stop latching onto your work identity and forage yourself beyond that title. A good place to start is with meditation, but even easier is to remember what you loved to do as a child and pursue those interests.
You should do the bare minimum.
This sounds wrong, but it’s so right. No company is paying you enough, especially not to dedicate your life to working hours. In the end, you give them your life and they give you a paycheck. Not a very fair exchange. Not to mention the stress or missing out on important events. Work is not your top priority. Your life path is. Friends, family, hobbies, experiences, memories—these are what make life unique. Re-evaluate that which matters to you.
You cannot be all about that work life.
Your job is a means to an end. It supplies you with funds to pay rent and eat. Perhaps it even allows you to do other things you love should you budget well. That’s why we love work—for the things it affords us. Unless your work life falls into a nourishing category, one that is rewarding, develops talents and fortifies dreams, you have no business being all about that work life. Find what you really love to do and make time for it. This requires you to sit down and have a talk with yourself, either in the mirror or on paper. It might require you to shut some doors in order for others to open. Take that as you will.
You need to focus then refocus.
Stop multitasking. It only gives the illusion that you’re busy, and it’s a lie, one that prevents you from self-exploration. The culture of busy is overrated. It gives us heart attacks, high blood pressure and mental stressors that make life challenging and, in some cases, downright miserable. Rather than sacrifice valuable time to work, rethink your workday. Optimize your time at work so that you can clock out earlier. Use power-hours when your energy is the highest to get work done so you have plenty of time to play later. Get out there and enjoy life. Otherwise, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.
You cannot forget your deathbed.
Keep thinking about death, as morbid as that sounds. When you focus on what you want to accomplish before dying, you ensure a life that’s gratifying and worthy of all your praise. If you know what you want out of life, it’s less likely that you’ll waste your time at work or on things that don’t add value. So don’t be afraid to think about your death. It will assist your happiness—spending time with loved ones and doing the stuff you love.
“There is no work-life balance, it is all life. The balance has to be within you.” –Sadhguru
Wise words to live by. Don’t be that person on your deathbed with more regrets than memories. Build a life on living.
Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA, is a freelance writer and a poet. Her online self, aka that writing life, can be found here. She works for Culture Designers, Thrillist, Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the inter-webs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets and photography @ female filet.