A few days ago I thought about living an alternative lifestyle, a life outside of the 9-to-5 borders, and how nevertheless I still sometimes struggle to evolve the way I would really like to live–how difficult it can be building personal habits even when having all the opportunities at hand.
When overseas, I feel very in command of my time and of what I do. I have plenty of time at hand and focus on the things I like to do or learn. Only a few months ago, I thought I could just keep it that way when back in Europe. By clearly setting priorities and carving out the time I like for myself. Buuuut, having been back in Europe for half a year now and working again on a regular basis, I find it quite hard to schedule in “my time” and to build and keep my personal routines.
I have to admit: It is way harder to focus on your own development and on what’s good for you when you work on a regular basis. Speaking in my two lives: It is much harder in my European life than it is in my life in New Zealand (where I do not work on a regular basis). “Of course it is! What the heck did you think?!” some of you might say now. I know—but still: I thought freeing myself from the regular work life would come with much easier access to my dream life. Less fighting for the things I really wanna do. Turns out: It’s not that easy. At least not all the time.
The one thing I cherish most about my lifestyle and about being a freelancer is the freedom that comes with it—the freedom and the possibility to determine by myself what I like to do with my time. (For a read on this see my blog Freedom, sex, power?)
On a larger scale my way of life allows me to travel when I want and where I want. I know this is a huge privilege, and something I have worked towards over the past years.
On a smaller everyday scale I live the the way I do because I like to structure my daily life outside the 9-to-5 borders in a rhythm based on my own agenda. I want it that way because I like to have the options to focus on things I really like to do and I feel are good for me.
In my daily life, these things most of the time require a certain routine I am keen to build so they can truly become part of my life. (Both ‘certain’ and ‘routine’ to be taken in a perfectly positive sense!)
Here’s one example to give you a feel for what I mean:
I like to go running in the morning, but often this means I will start working at 10 AM instead of 9 AM as most people in my business do. Being a freelancer, most of the time it’s no problem to start a little later. The possibility to do so helped me establish my running routine. I also figured out that the morning is the best time for me to go running: I feel way more energized than later in the day and the hurdle to overcome mentally is way lower. This running thing works pretty well for me by now and I am even able to do it ahead of “regular” office days.
Going back to my initial thought, it is–however–not always easy to build a habit. There are other areas where I for example find it quite hard. The past months have shown me that you can be easily absorbed by work and daily organizational stuff sending all your good resolutions down the drain–even as a free-as-a-bird freelancer.
So, how to free up time and mental capacity to be able to focus on yourself? How to build and keep personal habits & feel-good routines?
Here are some of my hacks as I’m trying to get closer to where I really wanna be. (Side note: This is not a perfect answer, but hopefully helping some of you to take the right steps.)
steps helping to build feel-good habits:
- On a regular basis turn inwards and remind yourself of what it is that you really want in life. What makes you happy in the end?
- Do not let yourself get fooled by money or shiny opportunities if that is not what you’re really aiming for. It might be a good means to what you really like to achieve – see it exactly as this.
- Mark the “Me” time in your calendar like the work time. (This is something I tried to be more strict about this season. I say “strict” because you really have to be strict. Otherwise it won’t work. It’s a date–with yourself.)
- Go step by step but be persistent.
- Start implementing small changes, things that are not too much trouble to fit into your daily schedule. Like, say, a few rounds of sun salutations in the morning, every morning, instead of clinging onto an one hour yoga practice (which you might end up NOT doing because you can’t fit it in).
- Make these changes (and later on the newly established habits) non-negotiable. I think this is key, especially in the beginning. It’s about building and then KEEPING your personal routine—no matter what.
- From my own experience, having established something to build on makes it way easier. So, once you have started, you will be able to expand with more ease–e.g. go from a few rounds of sun salutations to half an hour of yoga to an hour. Or go from running once a week to two times a week.
- And try this: detach emotionally from work and sh***y everyday stuff when you’re done with it. Don’t let these things take your energy for the good stuff!
This is just as well a reminder for myself as it might be a reminder or motivation for you. I’m in here with you, trying to accomplish a better, more fulfilled and healthier life.
What about you: Do you know this situation or feeling of being dragged down by your job or certain circumstances? What are your hacks to regain your time and to be able to focus on your personal development? Feel free to share some of your experience, I’d love to hear!
Thank you to unsplash.com and Freddy Castro for this beautiful image!