A year of living my life beyond work

We are drawing to a close of the year. In a few short weeks we will begin a new decade. It feels like the right time to reflect on this year of finding purpose and success beyond work.

I wasn’t sure, when I embarked on this form of writing and adventuring and well, living, back in January, quite what would happen. I just knew I had to find a purpose in my life that was unconnected to my day job and the way I was paying my bills. And you know what? Throughout this year, this has been slowly happening. I no longer define myself based on what I am doing for work.

So what exactly did I learn as I explored living life beyond work? A lot, it turns out! So I’ve created a small list for all of you, in the hope that some of it might resonate and be useful in your own lives.

Here goes nothing.

I learnt that life is long. Yes, life is short, unplannable really, and living each day is important. But life is also long. I have met many people this year who are embarking on new challenges later in their lives – taking up teaching, becoming food writers, garden designers, starting mindfulness businesses. I’ve realised I don’t have to do everything right now. I can dabble in things. I can do my job and occasionally write for publications but I don’t need to be doing my job and trying to pursue a career as a freelancer. I don’t have to find success right away. I can take my time.

I learnt to trust my instincts again. For the longest time, I was shaped by other people, and what they wanted for me or thought I should do. I have at last started listening to my inner voice and my gut over how I want to spend my days.

I have realised that free time, to spend how I wish, is the greatest gift.

I have learnt to switch off from work in the evenings and over weekends. I can spend time with A and with Pan cat without feeling guilty.

I learnt money isn’t everything. Sometimes working less is necessary for health.

I learnt that managing a chronic illness takes planning. Making sure I build in long periods of rest is essential if I want to stay well. Stress is still a challenge, but I’m working on it.

I learnt that finding new communities of people is really good for me. Whether it is taking up paddle boarding (what an unexpected joy!), joining craft club, playing walking netball, attending yoga, or going on a creative course, meeting people from all walks of life is restoring.

If I allow myself, I can be content. Settled. Grounded. Happy.

This is the second to last post of the year. I will be posting my ‘I did that!’ list on December 31, as is now tradition. I do hope you have a happy festive time over the next few weeks.