To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?
To honor 10/10/10, I created my five-year-plan i.e. the Time Capsule. I started writing my Time Capsule by writing my name and the date five years from now in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. I’m totally a mind map kind of person, so the format was a no-brainer. I didn’t really want to focus on practicalities at all, so I started with a basic question – what do I want to fill my days with in five years? The answer consisted of four key verbs that became the nodes of my mind map and a series of four posts.
A bit more than a year ago, I first encountered Barbara Sher’s brilliant book, Wishcraft. Towards the beginning of the book, there’s a simple exercise: write down twenty things that you love doing. They don’t have to be grand or lofty – if you’re stuck at nineteen, make the last one be “eating ice cream”.
I completed that exercise right then and there, and among the things I loved were (as far as I remember) “improvising”, “singing”, “knitting”, “doing Shiva Nata”, “having coffee with friends” et cetera. As I read my list, I realized that there was a shortage of those things in my life during the time. However, the realization came and went as fall turned to winter and my todo-list filled up at and outside work.
I came across Wishcraft again a few months ago, after having forgotten the name of the book (I hadn’t downloaded the free copy but rather read it off my screen) and finally managing to find it again. (Note to self: if you do exercises that feel borderline life-changing, make sure you write the exercises in a notebook or a journal, not separate sheets of paper, and for heaven’s sake include the source! 🙂 ) As I read the book, a thought started to emerge within: could it indeed be possible to align my life in such a way that most of the things I love be included?
I’m a realist in the sense that I don’t imagine getting a fat paycheck every month for just sitting in a cafe and chatting with my friends. I also flinch at the mention of the word “monetize”. However, I also flinch at the thought of having a job where every day is a depressing swamp to push through before “real” life begins at the stroke of five. If I’m aware of the things I love spending time on, I can make conscious choices about jobs to apply for and channels through which to contact people for freelance gigs.
Doing what I love for a living is just one part of the equation, though. In five years, I want to have time to spend with people I love, too. If that means forgoing huge paychecks (since, you know, the Arts majors always get the highest salaries 😉 ) that would involve round-the-clock hours, then so be it. For instance, I’m planning to stay home and take care of our daughter for at least another six months as I finish my MA thesis, and possibly after that as well. We could find a day care for her if I really wanted to go and earn a second income, but so far I’m (quite selfishly, in fact) prioritizing the time with her over a few hundred euros extra per month. However, if an opportunity arises for me to take a few teaching gigs or translation jobs while mainly staying at home, all the better.
Spending time with the ones I love includes spending time with myself, too. My brain knows the whole deal about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others, putting on your own oxygen mask and so forth. Still, it’s ever so easy to forget that it’s actually really important. I’ve been journaling almost every night for months now, and I’ve also been trying to reincorporate Shiva Nata into my routines, as well as yoga. In five years, I hope, I will be able to say “I love myself” without the slightest bit of irony, sarcasm or doubt.
After creating the original Time Capsule mind map, I read a fabulous book by a former Special Needs Educator (in Finnish) recounting her experiences of children who were mistreated by the school system one way or another. The further I got in the book, the more I felt that this, too, is something where I want to contribute. There are children in every school who need love, appreciation and acceptance. I want to spend some part of my career providing those things to children, and helping them provide those things to each other. As a drama teacher, I will have an exceptional opportunity to strengthen the students’ skills in empathy, listening, positive feedback, acceptance and general communicative skills. That, to me, is a wonderful way of spreading love in this world.
Reflections on the whole Time Capsule process
Making the Time Capsule was a spur-of-the-moment thing, as was blogging about it. As it turns out, though, a lot of the thoughts required some percolating before they became blog posts. It was interesting how effortlessly the four nodes and their sub-nodes emerged on paper as I first started doodling the Time Capsule. And as I wrote each post, I was surprised how much sense it all made (at least in my head if not in writing), how many levels of connectedness there were between the nodes.
The original, physical mind map is in an envelope in our bookshelf, addressed to me to be opened in five years. However, the process of mapping out my ideal future opened a lot of things in my present, too. For instance, after realizing how much I crave creativity in my life, we brought in my husband’s old keyboard that had been in storage. I don’t play the piano yet, but the simple fact that it’s in our living room reminds me to play every now and again. Realizing how much I want to teach has motivated me to speak up about my Shiva Nata in Finland project to friends who might be interested.
In general, framing my life in terms of these four verbs today will help motivate me to get more done – if I think of my MA thesis as being a creative work that’s aimed at teaching and helping people, not a necessary evil, I’ll be much more driven to put in the hours.
It seems that by looking into my ideal future for the qualities I want to experience right now, I’ve been able to inch my life towards that ideal future. Huh. Imagine that. 🙂
Thank you so much for stopping by again! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so you’re more than welcome to leave one. Have an insightingful holiday season!