In Spring 2018, a friend told me as long as he’d known me, my focus had always been split. Split between work projects. Split between multiple businesses. Split between future plans. Granted, this friend had only casually known me a little over three years at the time, but I couldn’t deny he was right.
A short time before that, I had stepped down as the full-time Executive Director of my local Chamber of Commerce to a part-time marketing position in the same office. However, in addition to working part-time at the Chamber, I also had two other businesses – a dance studio with two locations and a small print and digital marketing company. Did I mention I also had a small farm and the goal of creating a money-making blog? Then, there’s all the things I wanted to do with my “free time” like sit on the porch and read a book without my mind racing in 48 different directions. (Check out my “Fun & Inspiring Reads” in the right sidebar!) I wanted to workout and weight train regularly. I wanted to go on hikes with friends. I wanted my cousin to teach me the art of riding a dirt bike, so we could hit the mountain trails together. I wanted fun. I wanted adventure. I wanted experiences. But, like so many people do, I also thought I needed to make more money by working more and also felt my self-worth centered around how hard and how much I worked.
Shortly after my friend reminded me of my perpetually split focus, my husband and I had a similar conversation. We both felt there was so much going on, and not enough time to do everything – too many revenue streams to manage efficiently. His full-time job, my part-time job, the farm, my businesses, and then, there’s taking care of the house… Similarly, we wanted certain things – a house on our land, more traveling, etc., but to do that, we needed more money. Our minds, of course, went to the shiny, fully-restored, mostly-original, blue 1969 Chevelle Malibu sitting in the garage, the one I was sure would bring a pretty penny (not that I wanted to part with it). During our conversation, my husband mentioned he also thought of selling it and banking the money for opportunities that may come up. After all, we didn’t need it. Right????
The point I’m getting at is: There are things we want, and things we need. Oddly enough, sometimes the things we “want” truly are the things we NEED – a weekend escape to a mountain cabin, a relaxing 60-minute massage, taking time to read that book on the front porch… These are all things that can improve our quality of life and mental health.
On July 4th weekend, 2018, in the middle of my husband and I trying to figure out exactly what was going on with our teetering marriage, that classic piece of 1969 machinery provided the perfect escape we “wanted” and actually needed. We opened the garage doors, fired it up, and let it roll down a winding country road. The car windows were down, and the wind whipped by our faces. A luxury? Maybe. A material possession? Yes. But was it something we needed? Abso-friggin-lutely. It was a chance to get away, reconnect, just be us, and forget all the responsibilities of being busy adults with multiple businesses, multiple jobs, and a marriage on the rocks. Something that was a “luxury” actually ended up being something we desperately needed.
Driving that car may have looked like “having fun” to others (and it was!), but it was more than that. It was taking care of ourselves. It was relaxing. It was shaking the stress off. It was feeding our soul. No, it wasn’t working an extra shift or planning my next dance class – something that fed our bank account – but it was something that fed our souls. That vintage ride wasn’t directly tied to making money. However, in the end, it was the best kind of productivity my husband and I could have that day.
Our health truly depends on our happiness, and everything else in life (work, family, relationships, etc.) depends on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Being monetarily productive all the time doesn’t lead to true success. However, being soulfully productive all the time just might.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’d recently made some life changes. Yes, my friend was right – I had too much split focus in my life, so I I did some soul-searching and discovered the following:
- I wanted to concentrate on my dance studio and my blog while still doing design work on the side while my blog grew.
- I could let go of worry about the farm and let my husband take more of the lead. Just because it doesn’t get done my way, doesn’t mean its the wrong way. (That gift of my trust also made my husband feel better!)
- I didn’t need to make more money. I needed to take time to more carefully manage the money I had.
- I decided it was vital not to feel guilty about me-time and to throw away any guilt I felt about living an unconventional life. As long as my life made me happy, that was all that mattered.
- I came to the harsh realization that I couldn’t “tough it out” to make my marriage work. As much as I wanted it to work, I needed to do things that kept me healthy in order to even have a hope that we would be healthy.
As selfish as it may sound, you must take care of #1 – you – first to ensure the well-being of #2, #3, and so on. Take care of you, and everything else will be taken care of, too, even if its not in the way you perfectly envisioned.
HERE’S A FEW QUICK LINKS TO SOME IDEAS FOR “YOU-TIME!”