When I was in college, I vowed to never be someone who got caught up in her job. I couldn’t fathom working long nights, skipping lunch to work, taking phone calls and answering emails at home, dedicating 70+ hours a week to my job and missing events I promised I’d be there for.
I wanted to work to live, not live to work. (Heck, during my junior year I even told myself I was just going to write a book, buy a cupcake shop, and do what I loved.)
As I entered the working world through internships and eventually a full-time career, I saw so many people around me who lived to work. They dedicated to many hours to their career, and I couldn’t understand why.
Until I became that person.
I got sucked in
I officially started my full-time job in April, and before I knew it, I was staying late to attend meetings, finalize presentations and tie up loose ends. When someone asked me to help them with something, I said “yes” nine times out of 10, just because I wanted more. I had my sights set on becoming a senior vice president one day, and I wanted to work toward that immediately.
I was constantly running at 100 miles a minute, and I always had things on my plate.
I hate to admit it, but I liked it.
I liked feeling like I was contributing to the team so much. I liked not having down time in my day (because I go completely stir-crazy when I do). And I liked when people noticed all the hard work I put in.
Without my realizing it, I was becoming exactly what I said I never wanted to be, and people (including myself) took notice. At one point, my fiancé even said to me, “I thought you never wanted to be like this.” But I just shrugged it off and said, “Priorities change.”
Well, I had some sort of epiphany at the end of 2018 and decided to put my priorities in line.
What really matters?
Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time) life moves so fast that we don’t even know what we want. Instead, we just go with what’s happening around us, and figure out what we want along the way.
That’s more than not ideal—that’s just not the way life should be lived.
Give some thought about what’s important to you. What makes you feel like your life is worth living? How does your job rate on this list? Your family? Friends? Significant others? What do you want out of the people you surround yourself with? What do you want to do for others? What do you want out of your life in general?
Really decide in that moment (outside influences, like money and others’ judgement, aside) what truly matters to you, and ask yourself “why?”
Use this question of “why” as a challenge to yourself, too. Really think about why you chose these things as priorities, and question whether or not they should be. (And whether or not they should be moved up/down on your list.)
These are your priorities. You’ll have to remind yourself of these (a lot), especially when you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life.
Do you need to change anything?
Thinking about your newly-decided priorities, does anything need to change at this very moment, or are you currently living your life according to your priorities? Odds are there are a few things that need to change.
Maybe you’re realizing that although you say your family is extremely important to you, you’re really not spending enough time with them. Actually, now that you think about it you don’t even know the last time you talked to your grandma (and she misses you). How can you change that?
Or maybe you’re realizing that although you’ve made it known that advancing in your career is important to you, is it, really? Do the sacrifices you will have to make to do so interfere with your other priorities? That’s something you have to think about. (Again, outside influences aside.)
You need to make sure you’re living every single day according to those priorities, and you need to keep reminding yourself of what truly matters to you. And, generally, those things that truly matter aren’t a cushy job or big, beautiful home—it’s spending every day doing what you love and filling your home with people who matter the most.
That’s what’s really important.
A while back, I read a post online that said something along the lines of:
At your funeral, no one is going to say, ‘She had an expensive house and nice shoes.’ Don’t make life about things.
And it has always stuck with me. While having a high-paying job, a nice house and the most on-trend wardrobe and belongings can be nice, it isn’t what really matters. Doing what you love, showing the people you love how much you care and taking the time to better yourself are what really matters. It can be hard, but try not to lose sight of that.
After all, you only get one chance to live this life, and you’ll want people to say much more than, “She had an expensive house and nice shoes.” Make your time on the earth count.