The lore of the American dream is, “Work like crazy for what you want until you get it.”
I know all about it, because I lived it. My first foray in to the corporate world, at the ripe old age of 22, consisted of working two jobs – I’d work from 6-8 am in a stock broker’s office, then go to my “dream” job (an editorial assistant position that only paid $7.50/hour) from 8:30 – 5. Later, I worked 50 hours a week at an Internet start-up while getting a master’s degree in educational technology and communications in the evenings. I worked hard, yo!
There is a definite thrill to going after what you want, and doing it in a big way.
Certainly, there are times when you will have to crank up the intensity of your efforts to get where you wanna go.
But you can’t stay in that mode forever. You’ll burn out, stop caring, get disillusioned, potentially get bitter. Perhaps get sick.
For every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. And that means that if you’ve been working hard (or just feeling like you should be working hard but not really doing it), you’ve also got to chill.
And there is soooo much good stuff to be mined in more spacious life/schedule/mind.
After I had worked my way up from that editorial assistant job to full-blown editor, I quit my job. I had loaned my car to a friend, and while he was driving it, he was rear-ended by an airport shuttle driver. Because he wasn’t at fault (and no one was hurt, PTL), I got a check for $11,000 in the mail. Those 11,000 smackers bought me 4 months off, and that’s when I took my first yoga class, read my first self-help book (Deepak Chopra’s Perfect Health), and learned to cook.
Once I was pretty well fried at the Internet job, I took a year off to do an intensive yoga teacher training while supporting myself by painting murals with kids in low-income neighborhoods. And that process of being able to really dive into my mind-body practice helped me make the leap in to writing for a living. It also prepared me to meet my husband, who showed up right as my training was wrapping up.
My point is, you gots to chill! Seeds need space to grow into fruit. Bodies need time off from stress-inducing activities. Minds need to wander.
I’ve been on another mini sabbatical this summer. Sure, I’m working some. But my main priority has been to follow my heart’s desire, which at the moment is pulling weeds (I imagine uprooting dandelions in my sleep these days), spending time with my family, and slowly organizing and decorating our house. I’ve basically been indulging my inner housewife, and it’s been dreamy. Basically, it’s been a lot of me consciously choosing to not feel like I should be tending to work all the time. And in that mental space I’ve created, all kinds of great work ideas have naturally sprung up.
After all, it’s summer, the season of kicking back. How have you done less these last two months?
If you’re still reading this (hi), some part of you knows that chill is just what the doctor ordered. Come take advantage of the last month of summer to learn simple yet profound ways that you can truly relax.
My (first ever!) tele-retreat, the Virtual Chill Tour, is all about the power (and the how-to) of doing less. It’s me and 7 of my most favorite expert-y type people ever sharing our best ways to create a life that feels spacious, satisfying, fun, and chill. I can tell you, it’s been a blast to work on and watch come together with ease – over 100 people signed up just yesterday!