As I approached my 30th birthday last year, I can honestly say that I was dreading it. I was thinking about and questioning many things at the time, but one thing I couldn’t quite shake was that my life seemed all too similar to some Frank Turner lyrics:
I keep losing days
That used to take a lifetime
In a blinking of an eye
Those lyrics really hit home. When I was a kid, time seemed to pass so slowly. Now, it was the same routine almost every day and time was zooming by. I had a nice life, I was happy and I did some fun things every now and again. But, each year that passed I would get this sinking feeling.
I’m no longer young. My carefree days are over.
I’ve come so far and learned so much, but how much of my youth did I waste making bad decisions and worrying about stupid shit before I learned what I know now? Man, I wish I could go back and get a redo sometimes.
I’m one year closer to the end of my life on this planet. AAHHH!
I’ve done some great things with my life, but is this all I can really accomplish? Is this really it? A steady job. A nice house. A car. Ability to travel. Some kids in the future. The end?
The last item on that list was probably the one that bothered me the most because I knew deep down that this was the one thing I could control. And yet, I was doing nothing about it.
Don’t get me wrong. These things are all that some people want out of life and there is nothing wrong with that. I also realize that there are many people in the world that will never be able to say those things exist in their lives.
But, all this thinking led me to the conclusion that more than the material things, I wanted to be doing something I was passionate about. I wanted more control of my day and when I would work and when I would play. I wanted to fulfill my life’s purpose.
So, I made a decision to set out on a quest to try.
One problem though. At the time, I didn’t really know what I was passionate about. I loved travel, cooking and being with my hubby and dog, but how could I make this into my job? How do you define passion? Is this really what I’m passionate about?
And what the hell is my life’s purpose and how do I find it?
I started researching about creating some sort of travel business because that made the most sense as a place to start. The more ideas I came up with (some of which I thought were pretty cool) the more I wasn’t satisfied with the ideas. I was stuck.
While the business ideas solved problems for people, they didn’t really help people in the grand scheme of things. So what if I can save you some money traveling? So what if I can make your travel experience easier? Are those problems that need solving? Does that make others’ lives truly better?
That’s when it hit me. My purpose is to help people. I love helping people. Even when I think about my current job – I’m happiest when I feel like I’m really helping someone out. It makes me feel good and it makes them feel good. It’s awesome.
Then I asked the question that I think we should all be asking ourselves. How can I truly help people? Well, my answer to that question, at least for right now, is this blog. So, day by day, I started building this blog and here it is. And who knows, maybe one day I will turn this into a full time gig.
For now though, as another birthday passes, I have to reflect on the ground I’ve covered in the last year. What an amazing journey. 30 truly has been a milestone year, but not for the reasons that I would have imagined a year ago.
I can also honestly say that I no longer feel like I’m losing days. How do you get to a place where you don’t feel like time is passing you by? Here are my top practices for embracing this whole getting older thing. (I must stress that these are all practices you have to put into action, but at the same time, perfection is inherently not part of practice. So, as I often need to remind myself, be kind to yourselves friends!)
- It’s never too late to find your purpose. And to give you a head start, I happen to believe that everyone’s purpose is related to helping people and it’s only the manner in which we do so that differs.
Obviously, this was a big factor for me this year. The best advice for doing this is simple: JUST START. Anywhere. Keep an open mind, take action, be patient, and the answers you seek will come to you.
- It’s helpful to remember that time is not speeding up – it is merely an illusion created by your brain.
Each year you get older it is a smaller fraction of your life. Think of one year at six years old as 1/6th of your life versus 1/20th or 1/50th. It’s bound to feel like time is moving faster, but 60 seconds is still 60 seconds.
- Be mindful of habits.
When you have a solid routine day in and day out, your brain has to think less about what you are doing, making time zoom by. As said by Gretchen Rubin, have you ever driven to work and not really remembered a lot (or any!) of the drive? This is because your brain doesn’t have to work that hard to drive a route you have drove 1,000 times. Habits are extremely powerful and useful, but I think some good advice is to form habits around the things you want to conserve your brainpower on – think eating, exercising, etc. But, don’t forget to use that extra brainpower on things that get you doing something outside your habits – think trying new things, learning new things and being creative.
- Treat your body the way you want to feel. As you get older, the more important this is.
If I put junk food into my body and don’t take time for exercise and relaxation, I will feel the impacts of this through disease, lack of energy, or my personal nemesis, insomnia. If I treat my body right, I will feel the impacts of this too (read: awesomeness). Eat more veg and less processed food has been my goal this year.
- You are whatever you believe. Your beliefs heavily dictate your actions.
My body may age, but my soul does not. I can be youthful and carefree at any age. I can decide to run through the sprinklers, be goofy and gaze at the stars any day. You are only old if you decide that you are.
- Don’t worry about the past because, hey, you can’t do anything about it anyways, and worrying only ruins today. Plus, if it weren’t for those mistakes, your life would be really boring and you wouldn’t learn anything.
This article here has more of my thoughts on this topic.
- Gratitude is a great way to change your attitude.
Some people don’t even get a fraction of the time I’ve had on this planet. What a blessing!
- The only moment that is guaranteed is now. Be mindfully conscious of now to make the most of it.
While I’m not satisfied or complacent with what I’ve accomplished up to this point in my life, I know that I am not promised tomorrow. I take steps towards my goals most days, but I also take some time to feel the softness of my dog’s fur, the warmth of sunshine on my face, and all the other little blessings that make today amazing. Take some time to find beauty in your routine and today.
Be you. Be kind. Be weird. Do what feels right. This is living.
Have I helped you? If you think this post would help someone you know, please share away!
Have any practices for embracing getting older? Please comment!