“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”
– Jim Rohn
Layers. We all have them. Some of them reflect the nuances of our personality, our life, maybe even our soul. Others are just extra baggage; they may have been useful at one point, but now they’re just weighing us down.
I’ve been thinking a lot about layers, as I dive into the next level of redesigning my life. More layers need to be removed in order to fully get to what I really want to do and how I really want my life to look, not what I think I can or should do.
It takes a while to get to the real thing – to what is truly “us” – when we’ve spent years, maybe decades doing what we think we can or should do. And it can be challenging to split out those “can and should” things from what we really want to do, because this way of thinking is just so ingrained in our brains.
We are conditioned from a young age to think “Okay, this is what I want, but I’m sure I can’t really have that because (fill in the blank), so my best compromise is to do this other thing instead. It will at least channel some of that passion, or make me some money, and I’ll be able to pay my bills, etc., etc.”
Then, before we know it, years of heading in that direction have gone by when we realize it’s not giving us the fulfilling feeling we had hoped for.
Now, to be clear, these experiences are often quite valuable and can be great fun for a while, and can result in great learning or creative work or new friendships and experiences. My gratitude for all those things and more is very real.
The trick, though, is to realize when it’s time to step back and take a clear-eyed look at what we’re doing with our life and our time, and see what layers can be peeled back or even removed.
What do we want more or less of in our life? What work is helping us create the life we want and what work is not doing so? What have we been neglecting? What passion do we have that is not being fed or expressed?
It’s not just work or career I’m talking about either. For example, art and nature are two of my biggest passions. Looking at and appreciating art, reading and learning about it, and playing around with creating stuff. Spending time in nature, around flowers and trees and the ocean, taking photos and reliving those moments through them.
Add the right mix of fun time with family and friends and time alone to recharge and reflect, and that, my friends, creates the ideal foundation for everything else I want to try in life – the work I do included.
Having that core, that foundation of things that make us come alive, is the most healthy starting point. The things we love should not be just an “extra.” Not something we get to do if we have time after work or our other responsibilities.
We are much more likely to head down the right work path – or switch gears sooner when needed – if we are living from the foundation of who we truly are and what we love.
Peeling back and discarding layers that are no longer needed can help us see that foundation more clearly.
The urge to “de-layer” can arise at any time, but there’s usually a clear prompt. It could be the stress level at work reaching an all-time high. Or perhaps we experience a health crisis that sheds new light on what’s most important to us, that reminds us and calls to us:
“Hey, remember this? This thing you love, or way of living that brings you serenity and joy, or those people you love and want to spend more time with? Now may be a good time to pay attention to that. Just saying.”
It’s up to each of us to listen to that gentle nudge (or that big push off a cliff!) and decide what to do. For me, I feel a whole lot of de-layering coming on.
How about you?