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A few weeks ago, I posted a lifestyle development piece titled “Double-Spacing Your Life” which focused on giving yourself more room for enjoyment in your life and less room for worry. I received a lot of great feedback on that piece so I thought I would expand the thoughts and analogies between writing and lifestyle design.

Building Padding and Spacing in Your Life

Remember when you were younger and reading a long novel like Wuthering Heights? You flipped through pages, hoping to reach the end of a chapter so you can finally put the book down when you stumble upon a few pages with constant streaming text – no paragraph separation, no spaces, just words. It’s almost as if the author wanted to drive you absolutely insane. You count the pages until the next chapter only to realize there are several other dreadful full-paged doubles in the near future.

With the constant struggle for success (more money, power, relationships, and what not), the masses are constantly encouraged to work more to make more leaving them powerless to a schedule that includes hours upon hours of work and little time for enjoyment with their loved ones. Padding makes your life – and a good book – easier to comprehend and enjoy. Including a few breaks in your day allows for time to recover and enjoy the simple pleasures in life like a good cup of coffee or a great craft beer.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon

Including time in your day for Walking Dead reruns or endless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy is easier said than done. We are slaves to schedules, planning out every individual moment of each day to ensure that we maximize our time and leave no moment wasted. It shouldn’t be so difficult to plan out things we enjoy, but in my opinion, we often feel guilty for taking time out for life’s little pleasures in fear that we are missing out on a shot at success.

Rather than scheduling your busy hours, I’ve found it helpful to schedule when you are not going to work. For instance, I’m going to sleep in on Sundays rather than wake up and write. For me, Sundays are my Saturdays being that I have Sunday/Monday off as a non-traditional weekend. Monday, I’ll get up like normal and work, but Sundays are reserved for a little sleeping in and a huge brunch (I’m talking monster.).

Set Your Own Working Rules

If you have the liberty, set the times that you’re going to take it easy and not feel guilty. Maybe you aren’t going to work late at night. Whatever it is, set the rules and follow them. Then, don’t feel bad when you take the time off and enjoy it with your loved ones.

Formatting Your Perfect Life

The majority of Americans are moving along working their daily jobs hoping everything works out perfectly. They follow the same mundane schedule, work till 5pm, pick up the kids from daycare, help them with homework, make dinner, and fall asleep exhausted and somewhat less eager to tackle the next day. It’s similar to having someone else pack your luggage before you go on a trip then getting to your destination pissed off that everything you wanted wasn’t included. If you want to have all of your favorite clothing items in your bag, you better pack it yourself.

Similarly, if you want to live the life of your dreams, you better plan it out in advance. Nothing great ever happens by chance. Awhile back, I wrote a post about planning out your mornings for more success and productivity. That process extends far beyond the hours of 6AM and 10AM.

Living the lifestyle of your dreams doesn’t happen by chance. It requires intense planning, forecasting, and visualization. Do you want to be working three full days and have a four day weekend every week? If so, you better identify a career early on that leaves such a lax work schedule available. Do you like flexible work hours or more of a rigid schedule? All of those choices reflect the past decisions you’ve made.

The most powerful tool for forecasting your perfect life in the future is visualization. What kind of house do you want to have? How comfortable do you want to live? Are you okay with a modest income or do you need a substantial spending account for luxury items? Take a second to think about everything you hope to accomplish then set plans in effect to make those things happen. The worst thing you could do is bust your ass for a job that leads you to a life you don’t want to live.

Live Spaciously

I’m a huge believer in creating personal space within your day – time to reflect or do whatever the heck it is you want to do. Don’t live like an old novel: packed with great information that everyone is too intimidated to read. Instead, live with the space to watch endless reruns of Bones on Netflix or go for a walk without having to worry about work deadlines. In fact, stop worrying all together. It isn’t productive at all.

Stop worrying and start scheduling times when you aren’t going to work. It’s far more effective than scheduling tasks or work items. If you schedule work duties, they will expand to fill the time you have sectioned off. Instead, schedule times when you’re going to take a break and abide by them religiously.

Thoughts? Comments? Are you going to start scheduling times not to work? Let me hear it in the comments below!

Leave a Thought

  1. I think that this post includes plenty of sound and judicious advice. However, the underlying premise is that the addressee has identified a desire for more out of her life. I can certainly imagine the workaholic with maladaptive goals who might read this blog and say to herself, “But I like being busy all the time. It’s who I am.”

    Certainly there are those who find comfort in busy-ness exactly because it does not require any of the life-formatting you describe in the penultimate section of this blog. It is far easier to complain about those outcomes that one feels life has randomly dealt than to recognize one’s own power and concomitant responsibility in styling an enjoyable and satisfying existence.

    I think it is one of the strengths of this post simply to show that there is another way to live. Even if a person thinks you are crazy to prescribe adding padding and spacing to life, the mere suggestion that it is possible is enough to cast a modicum of doubt in the most stubborn mind. Keep spreading the message long enough and even the naysayers may come to see things your way (although they will likely act as though they came to the idea themselves rather than admit any influence). Regardless, it is a very important message, and you communicate it well!