I’ve taken a break from trying to cope with the 30 degree heatwave that’s hit Bristol to hide inside and do some writing (top tip – close your curtains during the day and be welcomed to a heavenly coolness when you return from a day in the sun. Trust me, it works!). There’s probably one question I hate as much as anything related to diets and that is.. “What’s next?”
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Oh you’ve just got your grades from some really hard exams..what’s next?
Oh you’ve been doing that job you’re super happy in for a while.. what’s next?
Oh you’ve just completed a project which has taken over your life.. what’s next?
Oh you’ve been renting since you left University.. what’s next?
Oh you’ve been in a happy and secure relationship for 3 years..what’s next?
Oh you’ve just ran a half marathon.. what’s next?
Oh you’ve just been the first person to unicycle on the moon.. what’s next?
There seems to be a constant pressure to always be looking towards your next great plan, to be bettering yourself and striving towards a bigger goal. Because once you’ve achieved something, you should always be thinking about what you could achieve next, right? I’m not so sure. The question of “what’s next?” has plagued me for years. I’m not only talking about awkward conversations from distant relatives at family parties but more the inner critic that seems to constantly be pressuring me to be pushing forward, no matter what and that, in all honesty, fucking sucks.
I’m currently happy in my job – I’m running my own business and working 3 days a week as an events co-ordinator in a converted old fire station for an arts charity. I’m currently happy in my running – I can comfortably (kind of) run 10k and have a couple of races of that distances lined up this year. I’m currently happy in my living situation – I’m living in a nice one bed flat with my boyfriend in a city I love. So, why do I feel that constant pressure for something more? I have no idea although I’m sure it’s something to do with how fast paced everything is nowadays. We are driven to do things super quickly, we can find out answers at the click of a button, we can do ridiculously advanced things from our mobile phones, we can make phone calls through our watches. Everything is moving so fast and I’m struggling to keep up. I’m fed up of turning everything I do into a race or something that’s targeted or goal driven. So instead of trying to move forward, I’m going to allow myself to just exist in this moment and to not try and change anything. I want to learn how to just live and rest (because rest is really important) without that annoying inner critic telling me that I should be doing more. Our bodies needs us to rest and our minds need to rest. Of course there are always times in our life when it’s perfectly fine to be pushing yourself but this doesn’t need to become the everyday reality. This doesn’t need to become a norm. Because if it does.. we’ll burn out.
I am the queen of motivation, I’m a workaholic and I don’t know when to stop but I’m trying.
- I’m carving out time every week for self care where I can be totally alone. This doesn’t need to be anything epic but just heading outside for an hour with a podcast, having a long shower, doing some writing or crafting or whatever feels good to be in that moment. I don’t tend to plan the activity but I do plan when I’ll have some self care because otherwise I cram my diary to the brim and then get to a Sunday evening and panic.
- I’m using 2 of my week days to concentrate on moving my body and cleaning/tidying in my house. This is because when my anxiety is at it’s worse, I try and do these things constantly and it never works out. I’m leaving time in my diary to move in a way that feels good to me and also time for pottering around the house doing some housework. Weirdly, I reaaally enjoy it but my anxiety tends to make me feel that it’s totally appropriate to start scrubbing the oven at 10pm at night. I’m working on relaxing into things being unordered and less than perfect because let’s be honest, who actually cares? We have some serious mould issues going on in our house which has meant moving pretty much everything from our bedroom to our living room until the repair work is done and I’ve finally managed to not give a damn because it’s a serious waste of my e n e r g y.
- I’m not pressuring myself to expand my business faster than I need to. When I first set up my business I had clear goals that by year 2 I wanted to have a second tour route running and by year 3 I wanted to have tour guides working for me and somehow I’ve managed to do both of those things in the first 9 months. It was good to ride the wave as the business was doing well but now, I just want to keep doing what we are doing for a while before we think about new directions.
- I’m answering the question of “what do you do?” differently and not asking it to others. The question most of us ask when we meet new people is to find out what they do for work. Why oh why has this become everyone’s priority? I don’t chose my pals on how they spend their days earning money, I chose my pals on how they make me feel. When people ask me what I do, I’m going to bombard them with everything I do that isn’t to do with work and I’m going to change my tact when I feel the urge to ask others the same.
I don’t live to work, I work to live and I think it’s about time we all shifted our focus on to things that matter a whole lot more than how we get our pay check, how far we can run, whether we rent or own a house, whether we’re single or married or if we’ve unicycled on the moon.
In terms of this blog, I haven’t got a clue what’s next and you know what? That’s ok.
Image at the top by @littlearthlings