Downshifting the TO DO List

blue bell alarm clock

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had written a completely different post for today about working in 10-minute increments to get things done: clean the bathroom for 10 minutes; write for 10 minutes; exercise for 10 minutes. That’s my strategy, in a nutshell, for successfully managing my daily TO DO list.

But then I thought, “Who cares?” Honestly, I don’t even care about most of the things on my list! So why do I worry so much about getting everything done? The real purpose of downshifting is to work less and enjoy life more. Here, I really want to address that “enjoy life” part.

Even though I started downshifting my career over 15 years ago, I still struggle with enjoying my life outside of work. If I’m not working at my job, I constantly feel the need to be performing some type of household chore, or running some stupid errand. I feel guilty if I’m not legitimately “busy” all the time.

I try to just sit on the porch and read a book in the afternoon, or take a nap, but I always feel like I should be doing something else. I rush through tasks so that I can move on to the next thing, hurrying for no reason, never being fully present in whatever I’m doing. And most of the time, I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. This is the part of downshifting that I still need to work on.

That’s where my 10 minute rule does come in handy. Setting limits on how much of my time I’m willing to sacrifice for the things I have to do — cleaning the house, washing dishes, paying bills, doing laundry — frees up more time for the things I want to do — taking long walks, reading, writing, playing with my dogs. And sometimes I even allow myself to enjoy these things!

I just need to learn to relax and not feel guilty for enjoying my life! After all, if we’re not here on earth to be happy and enjoy ourselves, then what’s the point?! That should be #1 on everyone’s TO DO list.

~PEACE~

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A Few Good Reasons to Appreciate Your Day Job

Find your passion! Follow your dreams! Quit your day job!

Great advice, but what if you’re not ready to follow it? Maybe you don’t even want to. There’s nothing wrong with earning a decent living from a “day job” while nurturing and developing your creative side outside of work. Most of us weren’t meant to be or do just one thing. We’re complicated individuals, with multitudes of interests and abilities. We were never meant to define ourselves by what we do to earn a paycheck.

Austin Kleon sums it up perfectly in his bestseller Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

“The truth is that even if you’re lucky enough to make a living off doing what you truly love, it will probably take you a while to get to that point. Until then, you’ll need a day job.

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.”

A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things that I can use in my work later — my library job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught how to sell things with words.”

Your day job buys you some breathing room in the budget. It pays the bills, and hopefully provides you with some savings and disposable income for travel or other meaningful expenditures that contribute to your overall happiness.

Hopefully, your day job offers you additional benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, to further enhance your (and your family’s) financial security.

Having a day job takes the pressure off of pursuing your passions, making it easier to enjoy them when money isn’t a factor.

The structure and schedule of a day job forces you to use your free time more efficiently.

Your day job may provide more social interaction than the “lonely creative life” of an artist, writer, etc. You may also make valuable contacts and connections for your freelance/consulting/side-gigging self.

You can learn valuable skills at your day job that may transfer into other areas of your life, both now and in the future. Everything you’ve done in your life so far has made you who you are today. Don’t discount any of it.

You may be passionate about some aspects of your day job, such as marketing or workers’ rights, that keep you engaged and involved in activities you enjoy.

Maybe you actually LIKE your day job. It’s OK to admit it! It may not be what you dreamed you’d be doing at this point in your life, but if it meets some of your needs and makes you happy most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with that.

~PEACE~

The Importance of Finding Your Tribe

As I strive to embrace simplicity, turn my back on mindless consumption, and form positive habits in my daily life, I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle every day. All around me, friends, family, coworkers, and even casual acquaintances question why I want to live this way.

Why don’t I want to eat a bag of Cheetos and a box of cookies every night?

How can I possibly be satisfied with a 3 year-old cell phone and a 5 year-old TV?

Why don’t I want to go to Wal-Mart?

How could I even consider giving up such a “good job” at the post office, when I’ll be “all set” with a pension for life if I just “hang in there” until I’m 60 years old?

Why don’t I want to make more money?  

Why am I giving away half the clothes in my closet?

Sometimes, in my darker moments, I even start to ask myself those same questions.

Then, every once in a while, I meet someone who gets it. Or I listen to the latest episode of The Minimalists’ podcast. Or I read a new blog post from Leo Babauta or Joshua Becker or Courtney Carver. And I remember that I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I just want to do things a little differently. I want to live my life a little more deliberately.

If you’re following this blog, then chances are, you’re interested in living a simpler and more purposeful life as well. Some of the people around you probably don’t understand. But remember that there are plenty of us out here who do. Those are the people you have to surround yourself with. They are your inspiration and your allies.

Thanks for reading, and for being on my team. I hope we can continue to help and inspire each other to follow our own paths to meaningful living. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding.

~PEACE~

A Lesson in Passion, and Balance, from Dr. Dre

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show. He was interviewing Cal Fussman, the “interview master” himself, best known for his “What I Learned” feature in Esquire magazine. At one point in the three-hour segment, they briefly touched on Cal’s interview with Dr. Dre – specifically, Dr. Dre’s take on passionate pursuits.

Fussman asked him, “What’s the longest you’ve gone, working on a passion project, without sleep?” His answer? 72 hours. 72 hours! That’s THREE days! This was just unimaginable to me. I have never felt passionate enough about anything to stay up for 3 days. I need my 8 hours, right? So I felt kinda bummed out. I guess I’m just not a passionate person, or maybe I haven’t found my passion yet, I thought. How boring am I? What’s wrong with me?

Then this morning it hit me. My health and maintaining balance in my life ARE my passions! Getting enough rest is something that I’m passionate about! Does that count? I don’t know. I’ll admit that I’m (sometimes) a little envious of people who are so passionate about the activities in their lives that they’re willing to sacrifice just about anything for them – sleep, health, relationships. Am I missing something there?

I suppose my slow-living, everything-in-moderation, baby-steps, super-balanced, small-incremental-changes way of life isn’t for everybody. I’m a postal worker and a writer, not a rap star. It’s not very exciting or glamorous, but it’s who I am, and I’m (mostly) OK with that.

Mostly.

~PEACE~

Profile of a Downshifter: Noelle Hancock

While some of us only dream of quitting our mundane jobs and moving to the Caribbean (or Europe, Alaska, wherever), some people actually do it.

Noelle Hancock went from feeling “stressed, uninspired, and disconnected” in NYC to living “on a tiny, rustic island of 4,100 people sharing a bathroom with poultry.” Check out her story on Esquire.com to learn why and how she did it:

Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Dream Job to Move to the Caribbean and Scoop Ice Cream

Some of you are probably thinking that you couldn’t possibly do anything that radical. I can hear your objections:

  • “But she was young.”
  • “But she was single.”
  • “But she didn’t have a mortgage.”
  • “But she didn’t have kids.”

I know, I know. BUT, BUT, BUT, what can we learn from her? What is your dream? What do you want your life to look like? And what small steps (or BIG ones) can you take today to start moving closer to that dream life?

  • Take a class?
  • Put your house on the market?
  • Look for a new job?
  • Buy a one-way ticket to paradise?

It’s never too late. We all have choices. We aren’t as stuck as we think. According to Hancock:

“It was startlingly simple to dismantle the life I’d spent a decade building: I broke the lease on my apartment, sold my belongings, and bought a one-way plane ticket. The hardest part was convincing myself it was OK to do something for no other reason than to change the narrative of my life.”

We each only get one life to live. How will we change the narratives of our lives?

~PEACE~

My Mission

When I committed myself to posting every day this month, I felt like I needed to revisit and clarify the goals and direction for Downshifter’s Journal (DSJ). Since its inception, the blog’s purpose has been to promote “the conscious pursuit of fulfillment, balance, and simplicity…” If you’re reading DSJ, then I hope this mission statement reflects your goals as well.

My own concept of downshifting continues to evolve, as I try to incorporate my passions for simplicity, balance, and saving time & money into my everyday life. It isn’t always easy. I struggle with my share of excuses, conflicts, and setbacks. Through Downshifter’s Journal, I want to share what I’ve learned so far, and what works for me: shortcuts, tips, life hacks, inspirational stories & quotes, observations, book recommendations, and other resources to help you make the most of your valuable time and money. I hope you’ll find some useful tidbits here that you can apply in your own lives.

I’ll also try to be honest about my shortcomings — the times when I lose my balance and let stress, clutter, consumerism, laziness, pettiness, etc. get the better of me. After all, this is my “journal,” and writing is the best form of therapy I know. I hope I can inspire you a little, make you laugh once in a while, and guide you toward your own equilibrium.

We’re all in this together, and we’re moving in the right direction. Thanks for reading!

~PEACE~

 

Go for it, kid…

Last week, I stumbled across economist Larry Smith’s TEDx talk titled Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career.  I can’t seem to stop watching it. Not only is he hilariously engaging, but he raises a few very strong arguments for finding and pursuing our passions. Please watch it. I’ll wait…

I know, I know. We all believe in the concept, but…

I don’t know what my passion is!

I know what my passion is, but it’s impossible to make a living at it!

If I decide to do something I’m passionate about for a living, I might get sick of it!

I may not be passionate about my “day job,” but it pays the bills and lets me pursue my passion(s) in my spare time!

If it was fun, they wouldn’t call it work!

Pursuing my passion would be selfish!

I have a family, a mortgage!

Who do I think I am? I don’t deserve a great career!

Is passion really that important? Don’t some of us have legitimate reasons not to pursue passion in our careers? Isn’t compromise a necessary part of life? Or are these just the lies we tell ourselves, over and over, because we are afraid?

What do you think? Wherever you stand on the passion spectrum, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Go for it, kid. 

~PEACE~