New Year, New You
Is Your Life Actually Working for You?
I’m about to state the obvious here — the pandemic has been soul-crushingly awful in myriad ways. I do not mean to minimize the pain it has caused or the loss of life as a result of these dark times. However, I’m a glass half-full kind of person, so I like to try to find the silver lining in even the worst clouds. The time in quarantine, and now beyond, has forced a lot of us to reevaluate our lives and figure out what is working for us, and, maybe more importantly, what isn’t.
You may have seen this phenomenon around you. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers, something that has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” Some are packing up and moving to new cities and even new countries to start over. When you’re forced to strip your life down to the barest of bones, it can be a stark wake up call. With the new year approaching, now is a great time to really take a look around you and determine — is your life actually working for you?
I myself have been pondering this question a lot recently. The pandemic hit at an especially poor time for me professionally. I had recently quit a job where I felt I was not being respected or used to the best of my ability. I then immediately took on another contract job that was working me to the bone, leaving no time for anything else. I had had enough.
I made the decision that I was going to stop taking survival jobs and finally bite the bullet to pursue my creative goals head-on. I spoke to a company where I have been a part-time freelance copywriter for years to ask if they could give me a full-time but still freelance position, so that I could still pay my bills but also have the flexibility to dedicate the time I needed to go after my dreams. Happily, they agreed to my offer. I was ready to quit my day job and take my life into my own hands. And then the shutdown happened.
Reevaluation has just been the first step in a long line of others, but I know now I am closer than I’ve ever been to a life that works for me.
Suddenly, everyone around me was being laid off, furloughed, or getting pay cuts. So many futures were uncertain. At a time when my industry (film/TV) was at a standstill and projects were being canceled left and right, I was lucky to even have a job. Oh, and that copywriting job I was ready to dive headlong into? It was centered around sports writing. Considering that all professional sports action was put on indefinite hold, that well dried up fast and the company was no longer able to offer me the full-time freelance position that I had been counting on. I was forced to stay working at a job where I had been planning to hand in my notice mere days prior.
Like many of us, with so much uncertainty abound, I felt completely unable to plan for the future. I marveled at my good fortune to have steady, paying work and did my best to remain grateful for it. However, I couldn’t ignore that small voice deep inside that kept saying, “But this isn’t what you want.”
So, as planned — though many, many months later — when things were starting to pick up and industries were coming back, I finally took action. I took a break from my usual survival day jobs and decided to focus on my own creative pursuits. Has it been easy? No, I won’t lie to you. The uncertainty of how I will pay my bills from month to month has not been fun, and I constantly question whether I’ve made the right decision. But, have I learned a lot? Most definitely. I know now what my life has been missing and I know better what I should be pursuing to feel happy and fulfilled. I no longer feel like I’m hopelessly behind on my own creative goals.
I’m at the point now where I know I will one day soon need to take on another temporary survival job again, and that can be pretty disheartening. However, I also have found the focus that I once lacked. I have a better idea of what I need to do to head toward the life I want to lead. I am more determined to save my money and to use it wisely instead of for short-term fun. I have real actionable steps laid out that I can take even while working a survival job, so that I don’t fall behind in my personal goals. I know what isn’t working for me in my life — and how I can take control to change what I need to. Reevaluation has just been the first step in a long line of others, but I know now I am closer than I’ve ever been to a life that works for me.