The main goal of downshifting, for most of us, is to reduce the amount of time we spend on the job in order to devote more of our precious time to actually living and enjoying our lives. However, once we do manage to disengage from our work and gain more free time, many of us are at a loss as to what exactly we want to do with it. We’re so used to feeling the need to be productive 24/7 and not “waste time,” that we don’t know how to shift gears, slow down, and use our spare time to figure out (and do) the things that are really important to us.
This year, I’ve resolved to use up as much of my vacation time from work as I possibly can. I’ve also resolved to call in sick when I’m sick, and take an occasional mental health day if I feel the need! It’s time to get serious about my life outside of work, and focus on doing the things that are truly important to me, especially writing. My long-term goal? Ditch the “day job,” live the life of my dreams, and generate a decent income for myself. Sounds pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to pursuing my dreams, because, well, they’re just dreams, right?
One of my favorite features of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project blog is her Secrets of Adulthood series. The Secret that really hit home for me recently?
Guilty! How much cleaner can my floors possibly be? Do I really need to be checking Facebook right now? Quick, easy, and mindless tasks are my forte! They are so much easier than overcoming fear and self-doubt, and sitting down to write.
From John Cleese on Creativity, at approx. 15:30 (but please watch the whole thing if you have time!): “It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent, like THINKING. And it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do, than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.” He uses the example of “sorting out my paperclips,” among others, to point out the ridiculous lengths we go to in order to distract ourselves and avoid doing the important work that we know deep down really needs to be done.
In the book that inspired me to start writing this blog, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes our inner Resistance as follows:
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance… Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”
Distraction. Resistance. Busyness. Call it what you like. It is what keeps us from being our best selves. From finding true happiness and fulfillment. It is the unfinished business hanging over our heads. It is the dread in the pits of our stomachs. Until we learn to confront that Resistance and overcome it, day after day, personal fulfillment will continue to elude us.