are you too busy to live your life?

Posted on July 31st, 2011

This week in Sunday Life I break the Catch-22 bind


Back when I used to work stupidly long hours in a normal office job I would spy people on my way to meetings sitting at cafes – on a Tuesday, at 11am – and I’d think, “How do they have the time? What have they got right that I haven’t?”.

Your sun-basking, Sudoku-doodling café lingerer might be the neighbour who gets to a 5pm yoga class each week, or the friend who can spontaneously take a long weekend when the weather turns nice.

“How do they have time?” you cry out, half in envy, half in contempt. How come they got their life so sorted?

Recently I was invited on a meditation retreat. The idea of withdrawing from life – from email, laptops and planning dinner each night – for five days is something I fantasise about. I have an image: people who go on meditation retreats have interiors magazine-ready homes and organised spice racks and cherubic blonde children and wear leather-soled shoes. You see (my logic goes), they have their life sorted.

So they’re able to.

Personally, I don’t know that my life will ever be sorted. And I’ll never have blonde kids. So this week I took the plunge, left my iphone at home, and signed up to the retreat. Regardless.

Goodness. You’d think I was heading off to Siberia. Or whatever other outpost where Vodafone doesn’t have coverage. Of course, it coincided with my busiest period all year. Sitting in the hall with a dozen others, I fretted as my brain slowed to a blunt, foggy stop. It rained outside. I clung with white knuckles. But eventually I had to give in to the atrophy.

On day three the following occurred to me. Have you read Catch-22? I haven’t. I think it was a real early “70s thing when people had time for holidays and dense reads. But I know the gist. A bomber pilot wants to quit his job due to the inherent dangers. But he’s denied because the fact he understands the danger means he’s sane, and only mad pilots can be relieved. So he has to keep flying, even though it’s insane to do so.

The modern version of this is the average frazzled person – you, me and everyone we know – who desperately needs restorative time and space for self-care. But, the demands of their life – the scheduling, the late-night conference calls, the kids’ play dates and all the other things we do to get a sorted life – prevent them from getting this. And so it’s the very thing that creates our aching need for more self-care and to live the lives we want that prevents us from getting it.

Or put simply: we are too busy to live. Which is just craziness!

You know, part of our problem is that we all try to clear the decks – to get our lives sorted – before we feel we can “indulge” in self-care. I can see the insanity in this as I type it. It’s like that analogy in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (again, haven’t read it, but know the gist).  A woodcutter frantically cuts away at his logs with a blunt saw. He could stop. Breathe. Sharpen the saw. But he doesn’t have time. Or so he reasons. And so on and on he struggles. This is not an efficiency analogy. It’s all about care of the soul. And missing the point of our existences.

Day four and I’ve eaten my body weight in lima beans (I’m going to introduce a new term into the vernacular: “retreat belly”….the definition of which probably doesn’t need teasing out). It occurs to me that there’s actually no fix for this infuriating double bind. Other than to just break it.

Be too busy, sure. And start living. Regardless.

And you know what, it doesn’t really matter how you go about it. I don’t think it has to be a grandiose, Anthony Robbins-style maneuvre. It can be small step (taking the morning off to play Sudoku in a café). So long as it that creates a chink in the catch. Because that’s all that’s required to expose the illusion.

I don’t know if the retreat “worked”. I emerged this morning to a flood of emails, cranky Words with Friends buddies and a load of wet washing . But it did smash the illusion I’m too busy.

Are you too busy to live life? Using excuses? Are you prepared to be busy AND start living? What can you do TODAY to do this?

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  • http://www.mikewilde.com mike wilde

    Goodness ! You may very well have blonde kids .. at least for the first couple of years

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    mike wilde Reply:

    i.e Blond partner and beach time .. eitherway I am sure they will be gorgeous.

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  • http://www.wealthenhancers.com.au Sarah Riegelhuth

    How timely, I have been making this internal promise to myself all week. You’re quite right, it us simply a case of doing it!

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  • http://www.jsnelders.com Jason Snelders

    I’ve worked as a corporate software developer for 10 years, getting in straight out of Uni. I’ve been head down, bum up the whole time, averaging 50 hour work weeks, sometimes more. And I’m one of those types with a brain the spins at 100% from the moment I wake until… I would say until I sleep, but I’m sure I’m still processing stuff as I sleep.

    About 4 months ago I got fed up with working in an industry I hate and not “having a life”. 3 weeks ago I finished my last contract… and I haven’t worked since. My plan: to take the rest of the year off. The dream: Never to work in a “full-time” job again. And certainly NEVER to work by other people’s rules.

    I started out calling it a holiday. Now (Tim Ferriss style) I’m calling it a “lifestyle redesign”.

    The week after next I’m going on my first “real” (albeit short) holiday since Christmas 2008. I’m finally feeling free, clear headed and enjoying life. I haven’t stopped though: In fact, I’m busier than ever, thinking, planning, designing and building a software product of my own. But it’s all at my own pace, on my own terms.

    Now: I’m happier than I’ve been in about 4 years, I’ve found a little meaning in life again and I’m doing some of the (I think) best work of my life (at no more than 2 hours in front of computer each day).

    Yeah, I think people are absolutely too busy to live their lives and the worst thing is they don’t actually need to. Most people, I think, are not actually “productive” – they’re just filling in time. Busy does not equal productive – it’s “just” busy and often waste. Most documentation is wasteful. Meetings are waste. “Important tasks” are often not that important. Processes are inefficient (like the woodcutter with a blunt blade). And “deadlines” and “critical paths”… I realised a loooong time ago they can and do get moved.

    I’m a believer doing less *is* doing more – but it’s hard work to get there.

    [Reply]

    Jeff Reply:

    All sounds lovely but how do you pay the mortgage, bills, school fees & groceries when taking 4 months off work then working 2 hours a day.

    Just plain unrealistic for 99% of the population mate.

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    Mel Reply:

    Learn to live on less. I did when I had a huge wage cutback and I actually enjoy it better. I have a young daughter and we live a lovely little life.

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    Jason Snelders Reply:

    True Jeff, I understand where you’re coming from and I’ll admit I’m lucky (though I had to make that luck and the decisions that got me to this point). I’m single, no kids, I got rid of my mortgage and have saved enough cash to do what I’m doing now. But it’s taken me 3 hard years and a few sacrifices to get to this point. I certainly won’t say it’s easy or that I don’t think about money.

    Not everyone can do what I’m doing or to the degree I plan on doing it, but I think anyone can at least make small changes to their life that make a big difference. That’s how I did it initially. I used to be career focused and driven (as a permanent employee). But I’ve taught myself to think different and I *am* better off or it.

    At the end of the day we do what’s realistic for each of us. And I know a few married people, with kids and the usual debts, who packed it in, made a new start and have happily lived to tell the tale.

    I’ve also learnt in recent years it’s amazing what you can get away with at work in terms of pushing “the envelope” you “think” exists but really doesn’t. For example: think you can’t have more flexible work hours? Try asking for it (negotiate) and you may be surprised how easy it is.

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    KK Reply:

    Really appreciated reading your story Jason! Wishing you all the best.
    What you want IS possible!

    Belinda Freestone Reply:

    I totally agree with what you said Jason about being lucky- but having to work for it! My fiance and I get told all the time ‘Oh, but you two are so lucky’ as we have a good relationship and live in a nice house, but that ‘luck’ has entirely come from hard work, dedication, and sacrifices- my fiance, when I met him, had worked for 10 years WITHOUT A SINGLE HOLIDAY. So yes, we are lucky to have made good choices and be blessed with the tools to do so, but everyone can choose to make a better life for themselves- whatever it is you feel will make you happier!

    Quixotic Reply:

    It is possible, I was going to comment with nearly exactly the same. My husband and I went from both working full time, hardly ever spending real time with our 4 yr old daughter, who was getting increasingly unhappy.

    Then, I cut the crap. I now have a much more “modest” job, 4 days a week and most day’s I’m done by 2pm. I spend the afternoons with my daughter and she is thriving. I spend Mondays by myself, doing what I love.

    It means we live on a MUCH more restrictive budget, but it’s taught us that half the stuff we spent money on was wasted and pointless anyway. We have what we need, balance.

    I don’t know if we would ever be able to afford to stop working altogther, but our paring back has been the best thing we ever did.

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    fafa Reply:

    I’m absolutely inspired by your story, Jason, thanks for sharing. Did you also say you’re single?? Lol

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  • Leigh

    I love taking spontaneous weekend trips! Even if it’s just from Saturday late afternoon to Sunday afternoon, it makes such a difference on my week. I like what Jason said, just because you’re busy does not mean you are productive. I think we should all turn our unproductivity into spontaneous trips, lunches, and coffee visits (sitting down… not just running in and out). It makes life so much better :)

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  • Jo

    Sarah, I feel like you were sitting inside my mind while writing this piece!

    It’s interesting how even when you know you’re caught up in the circle of being too busy to live your life – and you know you need to just stop the busy-ness and breathe – it can actually be really confronting to make a change. As someone who tends to define myself by my career and 60+ hour working weeks, it is easy to stick with this as a comfort zone even when knowing I shouldn’t.

    But this article has definitely hit on some thoughts that have been hiding in the back of my mind for a while (really just because I have allowed them to hide!) so thanks for prodding me to think about the direction I’m heading.

    And thanks also to Jason for his comments above – really inspiring me right now. I am now determined to be someone who takes the time to sit in a cafe and/or do sudoku on a week day in the not-too-distant future!

    [Reply]

    Jason Snelders Reply:

    Jo, I just wanted to share this with you too:

    On the 18th November 2009 I put a note in my Google calendar for the same day in 2010. It said:

    Subject: “Sit in cafe, have a drink during the day, working on my terms (see notes)”
    Where: “Doesn’t matter”
    Notes: “18 Nov 2009. I said to myself: this time next year I will be working on my own terms, my own hours and during the normal working day I’m going to get out and have a drink at a nice location.”

    (I just copied that straight from my calendar, with only a couple of personal remarks removed.)

    It took me another 6 months but I got there. I’m not the sort of person who has to write his plans down, but on 18 November 2010 when I had that reminder and I wasn’t there yet, it *was* a good nudge that I needed to get my act together.

    I actually did start taking odd days off during the first 6 months of this year and doing exactly what I wanted – sitting in my favourite cafe, on a weekday, having a drink and doing some of my best thinking and work.

    It really does work and it’s great!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Jason, that’s a very smart idea! I like it!

    [Reply]

    Jo Reply:

    I love this idea as well Jason – am going to put a note to myself in my calendar now along a similar line. And I’m going to put a six month prompt in too, just to ensure I have some progress.

    I have a crazy amount if annual leave built up (kind of embarrassed to admit) so my start is going to be a few long weekends this year.

    Thanks for the tip!

    KK Reply:

    Hey Jo…. Can I be so brazen as to encourage you to do it TODAY! :-)
    If you are really “now determined to be someone who takes the time to sit in a cafe and/or do sudoku on a week day”… don’t leave it to the “not-too-distant future”. Consider doing it today. Pull yourself outside for 30minutes. Be prepared for the World not to fall apart. Do it. I dare you. xx

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    Paul Reply:

    Sitting around in a cafe without much to do sounds life destoying. I think you all might like the idea of it, but the reality will be much different I think. Sudoku is going to wear thin after a while. Is this really something you guys want to wake up and get excited about?

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    Mia Reply:

    I kind of agree Paul. Its like these women I used to know who marry rich men and quit their jobs because they dont need to work but have nothing else to do. They all ended up on Prozac cos doing nothing and having no purpose, with no end in sight, is like prison.

    Dont get me wrong, taking a break is fabulous, but a life of all play is equally as brain-melting as a life of all work.

  • Paul

    The NLP saying “everybody gets what they want” comes to mind when I read this post. Like Jo mentions, the unwanted behaviors often are subconsciously wanted (eg; “career & 60+hr weeks define me”).

    If you didnt truly want it you wouldn’t be doing it, it’s said, so addressing the deep down part of yourself that craves this lifestyle or part thereof is the first step.

    Like they say, awareness is 50% of the battle I find.

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  • Ele

    Its amazing how caught up you can get. I moved to Sydney from Brisbane and worked as a lawyer for 10 years. Not much life, too much drinking, spending all my hard earned money on stupid things, living in a small inner city apartment, often without a partner. I too looked at those people in the coffee shops with wonder – and also almost arrogantly, as though they were lazy as they obviously didn’t work hard…

    So it took a while but I got off the wheel, moved back to Brisbane, and within 2 months had met my now husband on a plane trip. Spent a bit more time in an unhappy job and am now very happily studying acupuncture and getting on with doing what I actually want to do. So yes I know how it feels and I will never let myself get caught like that again. Life is too short….

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  • Anna

    Sarah, I see A Healthy View is a sponsor of yours. Have you been to this retreat? I’m looking for a place far away from Sydney for a few days chillout and this might just be the answer (but I also like recommendations).

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I haven’t yet. But I like the look of it. Byron at Byron (where its’ been held) was a real surprise when I got to stay there for a story a while back – lush, but simple, perched up in the trees, a dawdle to the beach. Why don’t you buzz Michelle and ask her for more info!?

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    Claire Reply:

    I did this detox retreat at Bannisters Lodge, Mollymook, a few years ago when Michele was just starting out, which she co-facilitated with Hale Sofia Schatz, the author of “If the Buddha came to dinner” and the creator of this detox programme. It was fantastic – gentle, inspiring, educational, supportive, challenging, rewarding. And ultimately, as you’d wish, sustainable for one’s life going forward. I’m sure the retreat content has only got better, supplemented by more Australian produce and nutritional information. Enjoy!

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  • http://www.thefreedomexperiment.com Marthe

    I had a real busy crisis yesterday. For tomorrow I’m starting to work full-time, while studying full-time. While blogging. …aaaand I want to have a social life as well.

    I think it’s more important than ever to take that morning off.

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  • http://oneaprilmorning.net Laura

    I have the opposite problem… busy scares me, so I shy away from it. And when I do get too busy, I feel drained and prickly.

    I always wonder whether it is laziness or self-preservation… maybe it’s both. Perhaps laziness is a form of self-preservation?

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  • Anthony Porter

    I don’t like to organize 100% of my life, but I do like to organize the important things, and meditation, meals and exercise are 3 of the important things,(the rest I wont bore you with). I find that if I take care of these important things the lesser things will fall into line. I have also wondered why others were so successful, were able to do what mattered. I found that the most successful people, those that have a well balanced life, and not burning the candle from both ends, have each day planned around the important things in their life. Even if I’m not busy, having an organised day is a healthy thing for me.

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  • http://www.sarahrooftops.co.uk Sarah Rooftops

    I always felt like I had a choice between having enough money to live comfortably or having enough time to enjoy myself; I chose the badly paid job which gives me a lot of freedom; some of my friends chose the high flying careers which mean they can afford cars and actual houses. I have to assume we each made the right choice for us, but it’s a pretty tough call to have to make.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I admire you!

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  • Mia

    I think being busy can be as addictive as other bad habits, for the same reason – it numbs the things we dont wish to deal with yet. Sometimes we keep busy to avoid thinking. I know I do.

    What’s that quote about not being able to see your reflection in running water, only when the water is still?

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    Paul Reply:

    Wow Mia! I just love that quote!! So true.

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  • http://saskystewart.com Sasky

    I’m a 22 year old who’s working full time, studying for her masters, working with two national sporting organisations in high level voluntary capacities, runs and co-ordinates a charity based in another country and is slowly slowly sinking beneath it all.

    I need to learn, desperately and quickly, how to cut it down, how to block it out, and how to carve myself even 5 minutes just to do me. Or i’m going to lose horribly at this.

    [Reply]

    Jason Snelders Reply:

    Hey Sasky,

    To me the answer looks simple, though implementing it may be harder to do.

    It looks to me like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. There are only 24 hours in a day and the only way to get some of that time back for you is to do less with what you have.

    There are 2 ways I think you can do this:
    1. Completely cut away from some of your activities, which I know isn’t easy if you have responsibilities or passion for them.

    2. Look at ways to make what you’re doing more efficient. For example, delegate some of your work to other people if you can or consider if some of your tasks are really not needed (maybe you’re doing some smaller things just for the sake of it or don’t realise they’re not needed).

    The way I look at it, we have a list of things we ‘want’ to do, but to have time we need to make choices and sacrifices – not everything can be done. Big change that doesn’t cause great upheaval isn’t going to happen overnight – it took 3 years for me to be in a position of completely changing my lifestyle without simply throwing it all in earlier (though that ‘is’ an option). But small changes – I make those all the time.

    I’ve spent a lot of time refining how I use Facebook and Twitter, I’ve re-organised my e-mails (I now aim for less than 20 messages in my Inbox at any one time), I’m ruthless in selecting blogs I follow (and I use Google Reader for managing my subscriptions) and no matter how much I love LOLCatz, if I don’t have time I don’t look at it. I use Evernote and e-mail all my thoughts and notes to that from my phone. I always aim for less than more.

    But discipline *is* a big thing to achieving it.

    And when you finish your Masters, consider *not* filling that time with something else – leave it for *you*.

    Also consider: by spreading yourself over so much, are you reducing the quality of your work? I for one try to reduce how many things I’m doing and product higher quality, rather than do many things I enjoy but only doing half a job.

    At the end of the day, the two key things to achieving more time are “be efficient” and “be disciplined”.

    But most important, if you find yourself overwhelmed and think you *need* that 5 minute (or all day) break, then just drop what you’re doing and take it. It’s *your* sanity and health that’s important and you can bet whatever you were doing will wait for you to come back refreshed and happier. Trust me – you are more important than the work.

    If you’re worried about what other people may think of you for taking time off – believe me, I’ve learnt from hard experience that at the end of the day there’s never any love lost with employers in any business. You don’t get thanked for pushing yourself to the limits so you’re better off taking care of yourself and living to fight another day.

    Good luck!

    (And I say all of this from personal experience.)

    [Reply]

    annemarie Reply:

    Jason, you should be a Life Coach! Or would that impinge too much on your time?

    [Reply]

  • Ellebel

    Ah, that time for yourself! My dream holiday at the moment is staying at a small but cosy cottage somewhere. Just me and some good books, good food, a walk or a bikeride and some dvd’s to watch.

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  • http://www.thesarahkatemonologues.blogspot.com Sarah L

    I used to push myself hard. In Year 12 I was working, debating, studying – ended up with glandular fever. I took a year off in between studying at uni to get better. My first job out of uni was a coveted role in magazine publishing – after a year I quit and went overseas with a suitcase and very little money. From then on I made sure my life was in balance. Whenever I felt I was working too hard I would step back. Back in Australia I was given a hard time for not wanting to work a 60 hour week- my boss told me I was not being a ‘team player’. Torn between being a people-pleaser and wanting balance, I worked too hard again and ended up in hospital with a mystery virus.

    It was the birth of my first child that really made me stop. I didn’t want a life of rushing for him. I didn’t want him to absorb that negative energy. After a year on maternity leave my husband and I decided to decamp to a (much) smaller city. I now feel like I am on the outside looking in at other people as they race around and exclaim about how busy they are. I am not that busy. I meander around with my kids, play, eat, read, talk, cycle, think. Life is full and energetic with two children under 6, but not rushed. We don’t over-schedule our activities. We say no to playdates if we’d rather stay home. We revel in the little things. It’s a luxury that I know many others cannot afford, and I am grateful.

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  • Joi Murugavell

    Hi Sarah, *waves*

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  • miss mia

    This topic is fantastic and is something everyone should be thinking about. I use to be a stress-head, organise freak and would disappointed if anyone changed plans on me. I have learnt over the years that planning every inch of your life isn’t a good thing. Being organised in work-life is crucial, but life-life should be an open beach with the sun beaming and the warm water inviting you in.

    I’d have to say I have been grumpy for most of this year due to financial and body issue worries. It was just this weekend that I decided I have nothing to be grumpy about. A few things occured over the weekend that made me step back and re-assess. My nanny feel ill and was in hospital. I witnessed my younger sister stressing our mother out over a dress for her end of year ball. I attended an engagement party with my partner where we decided to drive to the party and see how the night goes. If we decide to stay all night the car can be picked up in the morning. By the end of the weekend I was not stressing that the cleaning didn’t get done and that I hadn’t received that call back about an interview I had a week ago.

    There is so much I want to write, but so many of you have already covered. Awesome blog Sarah!

    [Reply]

  • Oh, the irony of it all
  • http://www.shashenjewels.com eilish bouchier

    Wow there is so much in this post and in the comments. Great topic Sarah (again). I agree wholeheartedly with Jason and Anthony. It’s about discipline and priorities and commitment. WIthout the commitment you won’t make the changes. The commitment will begin to form who you become.

    I used to have a branding and comms agency and made so much more money than I do now (and had so many more shoes too). While I found it interesting and stimulating I also began to find it to be superficial and copy cat. I tried to get companies to see that they needed to brand from the inside out (values, integrity, hiring people who shared these etc). They loved this idea but they also found it too hard to live by and didn’t believe it would make for good business. I think it is the same for us as individuals. We find it very hard to truly strike our own path. We find it almost impossible to believe we actually get to create our own lives. Part of this is conditioning, part is lack of clarity, part not asking those questions often or deep enough and part is lack of courage to take the path with less ‘certainty’ and of course there are many more parts.

    Through various challenges and some imposed and chosen changes I began a journey that has created a jewellery design business two years ago which is all about the gemstones and their vibrational energies and circular giving (part of the proceeds is donated to educate girls in india). The gemstones are really a medium for people to connect with themselves, to start the conversation about who you are and who you wish to become by taking a moment for yourself each day to set an intention of who and how you want that day to be: when you see/feel the ring/necklace you are reminded of it. i believe this is my purpose to inspire people to begin this conversation with themselves. Changes can begin with little moments that then push you to make bigger ones. And of course to do this I have to be this. . . . very challenging :-)
    My day now begins with yoga or a walk. I meditate daily sometimes for minutes sometimes longer. I still work a lot but it is coming from a different place. I love design, I love beauty and I love business. I want to create this company that breathes these values that takes care of its customers, it workers and its community and also takes care of me. My lifestyle is much more modest there are less shoes, restaurants and silliness, more of family, less acquaintances, some new friends and deeper relationships with others and I am more present when I am with them. I am more self contained and much calmer and happier. I am more able to let life unfold as it will. There are real challenges such as the mortgage and cashflow and it has been and continues to be a huge learning curve. I have more faith in myself and I see beauty everywhere and in everyone and I really believe we are not here for a long time we are here for a good time.

    I don’t believe there is such a thing as work life balance there is just your balance and your job is to find it and also allow that to change and it will. And as Sarah says taking a week out, a day or even an hour; the world and your world isn’t going to collapse and accept the to do list is never going to be filed away as done. As Yogi Bhajan says Nurture yourself and see who you become.

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  • http://www.jacintafleur.com Jacinta

    Sarah I love your syncronicity! just this week I decided not to kill myself after my work trying to process all of the entries for an art prize that I run (for fun). I simply sent everyone a ‘thanks, will send through confirmation email shortly’ which took a grand total of 10 mins. I decided to lower my self imposed standards. The artists haven’t complained, in fact they wouldn’t know the difference as to wether I’ve put them in my database and processed their payment or not.

    It felt daunting taking a step back from the ‘way I usually do things’…..(what if people think I’m slack? What if someone’s credit card doesn’t work when I process it later)…. and its all about the small stuff, those small stubborn thoughts that won’t let you give up things….

    Now I’ll have the time to process the art entries with the care and interest that they deserve, and it’ll be a much more enjoyable process than if I’d stayed up late everynight after work.

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  • steph

    great post, i love your honesty. I just did a seven habits of highly effective people seminar at work and it wasn’t as bad as i thought. You take what you want from it, the best thing i learnt was how to listen. You’d be amazed how much time you can save if you listen, which is the last thing you want to do when running around like a headless chicken, speaking about myself of course!.

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  • http://www.jsnelders.com Jason Snelders

    I just wanted to share some more…

    For anyone who comes along later and reads this post, it’s now the end of September – almost 2 months later – and I’m still living the “slow” life. I’m still not working and I’m watching the money rapidly flow away – what can I say, I love to live! But I’m still happier than ever, perhaps even more so than 2 months ago.

    I’ve also started working again… for myself this time. I’m building a software product so I can start a business (it’s actually going to be a foundation for multiple products/businesses) and I can honestly say that having a few months off is allowing me to focus and work better than *ever*! I am *so* relaxed and completely unstressed. If I find I can’t do any programming during a day I don’t, because the next day I know I will do what I need to – no worries. I don’t push myself too hard or work to unrealistic expectations set by someone else. In fact, even *I* am blown away by just how good the quality of my work is now. Why? Because it’s coming from the heart and without interference or stress. All I need is my own time and pace to do it.

    I’m at the point where I’ve lived well but I need to start cutting back to let it last before I start earning money again. That’s cool, and one of the things I’m realising is: I don’t really “need” half the things (read: food/drink) I’m spending on. It’s pure luxury. So I’ll cut back now to do what will “really” bring benefit (and allow me to earn good money) then look at the luxury again later.

    I do believe luxury is worth working for. The human driving force is always for something “better”. We all work to make our lives better and have more – to have more for our children. But luxury shouldn’t be what “defines” our lives.
    My staple diet is still eggs, chicken, vegetables and some rice or noodles [in stir fry]. I’m strong, fit and healthy. Anything else is a luxury (which, I don’t deny, I enjoy immensely).

    Personally, I don’t think doing what you want – having the “options” and being “rich” in the true sense – is really that hard. All you have to do is sacrifice some luxury for a while and you’ll soon realise that what you now [and will soon] have far outweighs what you were holding on to.

    And I just had a thought: we have Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous… how about “Luxuriates Anonymous” to get us started on the path to living the life we truly want and love?

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    eilish bouchier Reply:

    good for you and here’s to your software project too. enjoy xe

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  • fi

    This is a great post and one of my favourites on Sarah’s blog. I’ve subscribed to it and so receive notification whenever there’s a new comment.

    Jason, I take this as a ‘sign’ because within the span of a day, you’re the second person who says the same thing – taking it ‘slow’, enjoy life, money is not all, do what makes you happy.

    I just had a holiday and got back to work and guess what, instead of feeling positive and recharged, I’m depressed. I’m actually thinking about the opposite – quit my work (at least for now and a good few months) and ‘live’.

    Nothing is stopping me from ‘pulling the plug’ but the fear of ‘getting out of my comfort zone’ is. I think in this sense, I don’t have the courage and to do what you do, it may sound ‘easy’, but in fact it takes a lot of courage – the first impact is, change of lifestyle, or what you mentioned in your latest post – luxuries. Money is not everything, but for example the liberty of not having to dwell on having an extra cup of latte during the day is something a so-called routine ‘working life’ allows us (ok probably I can’t generalise here, say, me) to indulge. When there’s no income, every cent counts in order to sustain a lifestyle, no matter how stripped bare and simple it is. Even going for holidays will require a bit more ‘budgeting’ although I may have all the time in the world if I’m not working.

    Does the luxury to have extra cup of lattes equal to happiness? It is a difficult call. :)

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