When I started my freelance business, I had one goal: To create a career I didn’t need a weekend away from.
It was a goal made with the best of intentions. I was so tired of living for the weekend, of counting down the hours until I could walk out of the office. “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” the old adage goes. I was determined to make it happen.
And it worked—at first. The goal of “creating a career I didn’t need a weekend away from” gave me the motivation to build a client base. I started imagining the kind of business it could grow into, and the life I would lead once I had reached a certain level of success.
But you know how this story goes, right?
Eventually, I got so caught up in my goals that my job became my life.
From the outside, I wasn’t a workaholic
I kept regular business hours. I didn’t actually work weekends. I protected my time.
But when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work. And when I wasn’t thinking about it, I was thinking that I should probably be thinking about it.
Who has time to meet up with friends when there’s a new offering to dream up?
Why plan a date night when we enjoy sitting at home plenty well enough—and I can journal about my goals after dinner?
It’s embarrassing to admit how long this went on. Because it continued for years. I was so focused on my big, beautiful dreams that I didn’t notice when my real life become a small, confined version of what it used to be.
Here’s the lesson I’m finally learning:
Your future life looks a lot like your present one
The habits and behaviors you set now stay with you, for good or bad.
Do you dream of a life where you can break out the watercolors every day? If you don’t find time for them now, you won’t prioritize them later. Carve out space to pull out the paints, even if it’s just a few times a month.
Dream of a life that allows you to travel all the time? Don’t let that dream live in some undetermined future—start saving for your next trip now.
The action you take doesn’t have to be grand. But you must take action. It’s far too easy to fall into the daily ritual of dreaming and working, dreaming and working, with the expectation that one day you’ll be able to live your dream in the perfect future you’ve built.
But the only life we’re guaranteed is the moment we’re in right now. Are you living in it?
It’s a lesson you’ll need to re-learn in every new phase of life
Since bringing home a new baby, I’ve found myself living in the future yet again.
Someday, I’ll be able to go out with my friends like I used to. Someday, it’ll be cool enough to go on walks. Someday, I’ll be able to try that boba place I’ve been thinking about for weeks.
And sure, it’s really tough to do much of anything with a newborn who needs to eat every 2 hours and only sleeps when he’s in your arms. But I’ve been in survival mode for so long that I didn’t realize that I could actually be doing some of those things now.
I can’t go on a long walk in this heat. But on a cool morning, I can surely manage a quick trot up and down the street.
I can’t close down a bar with my friends like I used to. But I can invite people over for lunch.
And I can certainly leave the baby with my husband to go grab us some boba!
Don’t wait for your life to change, or it never will
I’ll leave you with a little question:
What is the future you’re imagining, and how can you incorporate it into your life today?