Isn't this the biggest question we are all looking for the short and straight forward answer to? I have struggled with this question for most of my life, and especially, in this past month. When my life took a big turn and I decided to move country, (during covid-19 peak) closer to family. I experienced what felt like a fall into the biggest darkest hole of lostness. I forgot what new beginnings and adapting to new normals felt like.
I have always been a 'butterfly'. I jumped from one interest to the next, loving life and exploring my options. There were so many of them! So many loves, so many opportunities. How does one find focus with all these opportunities? Every one of them coming in with a shiny new story, an exciting turn of events, and so many prospects of growth and expansion into different areas.
As exciting as all of this happiness-promising options seemed to be, non of them managed to complete my picture of happiness. I could not stick with anything long enough as there would always come a point where I would realise this doesn't complete me. I imagined a circle filled with that ONE thing. The thing that would be everywhere, that I would be happy to spend every single second of all my days with, for the rest of my life.
The result of this yearning, for the perfect picture, left me feeling so tired and unfulfilled. Looking at unfinished websites, un-posted blog-posts, bags full of started knitting projects, barely used accounts of fitness regimes or video editing apps, payed for and unfinished spirituality courses. Three different Cvs. You get the idea.
I found myself standing there with a basket of unfinished paths. How do I now choose? What do I take? And what do I leave behind? These thoughts had me in pieces. How do I choose? I love all of it! I want all of them! All of them are part of me! Choosing one thing felt like I had to choose which type of heartbreak I would like to experience, which pat of me do I leave behind? Which part of me do I abandon, unfinished?
I struggled with these ideas for so long, until one day, as I was trying to pull myself out of my rut of conflict, As I was writing my to-do list, I had an idea. I thought, I need to take my loves more seriously. I need to actually carve out the time for them and see how I treat them, how they feel in my life in a more structured way. I decided I will take them all as seriously as each other. I didn't need to leave any of them behind, what I had to do is organise them. All my happiness was actually sitting in a basket, but it was tangled, it felt complex and was weighed down with stress.
I realised that part of my sense of 'unaccomplished-ness' came from the deeply engrained belief that, one of these things carried my self worth. Not only this, but I also believed that if one of these things did not end up translating into a successful career, I had officially failed. A big part of myself failed. That's a heavy weight to put on something you love isn't it?
I started becoming methodical. I started planning my weeks and structuring my hobbies and interests. At his point I still had no idea which activity would end up with which title in my life, but I knew I wanted all of them there. I knew that one would potentially grow into a career, I didn't know which. One would become a 3-times-a-week, one a twice-a-month and another an every-singe-day. I scheduled time for everything in a way that felt quite equal and balanced, based on the type of activity.
My Structure Building
I added 30minutes of meditation, 30 pages reading of a book, 30 minutes Reiki, 30minutes jogging, 30minutes knitting, 30 minutes writing. All of these were divided over seven days of the week. Some activities had to be 30 minutes every other day or 3 days a week. I looked at the time I had and filled gaps accordingly.
I first focused on ticking them off in my much loved Happiness Planner and I started watching my moods. I started to notice which activities felt like 'too much' or 'too little'. I discovered that jogging every day was exhausting for me, it took too much time, together with my 30 minute workouts. I discovered that I had to do my lunch cooking first, keep it on the stove and read my book during breakfast. I discovered that knitting was the perfect wind-down evening activity. I discovered that doing 2 courses simultaneously confused my mind so I started getting through them in order and leave time in between. Slowly and steadily my arrangements started to evolve. My career path started to clarify. My loves started taking shape and blooming like a colourful bouquet of wildflowers (I'm also into foraging). Some of them even dissolved and disappeared naturally.
Structuring my weeks allowed me to get a clearer idea of what I needed and when.
Another incredible tool I discovered, is the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.
One of the exercises in this book asks you to write out 5 career paths you would like to experience. Under each path, without giving it too much thought, letting yourself go wild, you write details of what your life would look like, what you would be doing. For example if one of the careers is healer, what would the furniture in your practice room look like? If musician, what kind of guitar would you pick? Describe your sources of fun in each career.
As I wrote out these paths, I noticed common aspects jumping out at me, I noticed my emotional reactions to the different activities. I noticed that the knitting path got me quite emotional. I noticed that the idea of eco yarn researching gave me butterflies. I got absorbed into the idea of that role. Reiki had a similar effect. When I described my healing room setup, the blanket colour and texture, the session experiences, my heart felt open.
So here is the answer to the big scary question: Structure and re-structure and repeat, until you see what works, until you start to get to know yourself better in a more intimate way. Notice how you feel. Set yourself time to write out different experiences and feel your way into them. Some of the things you felt so tied to might actually start to fall away and this is ok, It's your evolution. What you will discover, out of the process of sorting through what seems like chaos, is that all you want and need is already here, it's just unorganised and untested.
Test your passions
I would urge you to put your loves to the test, put them in order, see what you gravitate towards more. The process does take time, and the tasks will need ticking, and the answer might not be a quick and straightforward one, but I promise you, there IS one, and it will be the right one.
INVEST IN A PLANNER! Structure, execute and tap into how you feel, and repeat.
I understand the troubles of this process first hand, but if, after all these years, I managed to start unravelling this, I know you can too.
A busy mind is a creative mind in need of structure.
Much love and blessings to your process.
If you would like some extra support with your unravelling, you can book a remote session with me here.