By now, you know one of the best parts of my job is getting the opportunity to travel and write about new experiences.
November was particularly exciting as I got to jump out of a helicopter and go scuba diving with Navy SEALs in Hawaii. And while that trip was undoubtedly one for the bucket list, it was the time I spent doing nothing that had the most significant impact on me.
You see, this was my first trip away from my husband and son. So, I had nearly 24-hours of flying roundtrip completely alone without wi-fi. This meant mostly a full day of no texting, answering emails, coordinating with the nanny, doing chores, being on mom duty, etc. It was purely “me” time. With no distractions, I started thinking.
When was the last time I really thought about me as me?
Many of us take on multiple roles in our daily lives. These roles not only consume our time, but they also take up headspace. As a mom, wife, sister, daughter, writer, and business owner, I feel like my to-do list is never-ending. My head is consumed with the next task at hand. We tend to fill our days, and consequently, our minds, with the “must-do” items, leaving very little time for self-reflection.
Though you might be great at checking those daily tasks off the list, it won’t help you to get you where you want to go. Checking off items on your to-do list is just a distraction. Plus, it doesn’t mean deeper desires and goals aren’t still mulling about. To have a real sense of fulfillment and happiness, you need to go one level deeper.
Ask yourself a few questions…
What do I want? What are my goals? How am I feeling? What do I want to change? What makes me happy?
I started to ask myself these questions, and to write down the answers. And for the first time in a while, I felt as if I some space cleared up in my head! Despite being an excellent multi-tasker, I always felt like my head was still full because I wasn’t addressing the core of my happiness enough. I wasn’t looking at my life big picture or long term goals. Instead, I was just going through the motions of the day and getting things done.
If we don’t pay attention to those deeper desires once in a while and carve out the time to really analyze them, we risk feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled no matter how much we are capable of accomplishing in our days, weeks, months, etc. And this isn’t to say that you still can’t be happy in your day-to-day. You don’t have to be miserable or depressed to recognize a change needs to be made. Imagine if you were taking this necessary “me” time and working towards accomplishing your true dreams. You’d probably end up happier than you could have imagined! Who doesn’t want that?
It’s time for you to do a check-in.
It’s important to be alone for a while and ask yourself the poignant questions that will help to get to the bottom of what you need to do. Do a check-in. Are you happy? What’s something you want to change? What do you still want to accomplish in life? Write the answers down if it helps. Or, just think about it. The important thing is making the time away from the distractions of everyday life. Sure, you could try to squeeze in time in between children’s naps or while commuting. But it’s not enough distance or time away from the to-do list to really dig deep.
If there’s one thing you should put on your to-do list right now, it’s to set aside some time just for you. Ask those bigger questions and get the bigger answers. Then you can come up with a plan to accomplish those goals. That’s where the “how” or “what” comes in. How are you going to get that dream business started? How are you going to cook more? What needs to happen to get that passion projected completed? Answering these questions will make it clear the actionable steps you need to take next. And from now on, those daily tasks should also include those steps and working towards ambitions.
The more you start to add in tasks that lead to fulfilling the big-picture objectives, the less you’ll get lost in the day-to-day of chores. And, consequently, each day will feel a little more rewarding. By the end, you might just be the happiest person you know.
TIMA Contributor Jordi Lippe-McGraw is the owner and author of Well Traveler, a blog dedicated to navigating life through beautiful and practical stories from around the world, inspiring people to embrace their individual journeys and learn simple steps towards creating a happy and healthy life.