What really matters

One of the frequently used words people have used to describe me is ambitious. Ambition is a great thing.

People often find me a little strange, because in my free time, I’m behind a laptop screen eager to learn and create something new and if it’s not that it’s thinking of new ideas that fulfils my creative needs. Like, making videos, writing blog posts, outlining new talk ideas or even building new themes.

Up until recently, this was my whole life. Having a routine that was embracing that always on culture, because hey, if I wasn’t into that, I would be behind. I had to always be “hustling” to truly wear that ambitious name with pride.

Or so I thought.

This year in particular has taught me the benefits of choosing to remove myself from the rat race, hustle and grind and to actually slow down. My free time went from fiercely ticking things off my to-do list to resting my body and mind with binge watching episodes of Brooklyn 99. Fun fact: I first signed up to Netflix in 2019. Yep, you read that right.

The first few weeks of doing this, I actually started calling myself lazy. Overwhelmed with guilt, I would torture myself in my mind with things like, “you’re falling back, falling 500 steps back because you’re lazy.” “you’re wasting time, not making use of every single second of the day… ridiculous!!” I know my self-talk is a little b*tch at times.

But I didn’t realise how much I reap the benefits of real downtime, until I allowed myself to fully take advantage of it whilst ignoring my constant lists of things to do and investigate for the million projects that I’ve given myself.

I have recently been reading “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferris, and one quote in particular that hasn’t left me since I first read it was by Veronica Belmont:

I finally came to the understanding that my downtime is just as valuable as my uptime, and I have to schedule it in accordingly. Previously, if I saw a big chunk of free time on my calendar, it was a lot more difficult to turn down projects, speaking engagements, or even coffee meetings. Now, I see that block of time, and think, “Oh, that’s my binge-watching Netflix time. Sorry.”

This new block of downtime that I have been utilising a lot over the last few months has allowed me to truly rest and as a counter effect take that time to reflect. Being away from the second-by-second planning gave me that space to look at what is truly important to me.

Sunset over the Greek Islands
Sunset over the Greek Islands

Have you ever stopped to think – what really matters at the end of the day?

No, really think about it.

On the surface, for me I realised the things that I thought mattered focused a lot on money and status.

I actually recently did an Insights Profile as part of work, and found one of my blind spots/things I can benefit from if I limit it was written point, blank and centre captured exactly this. This was something I never thought would ever be a theme in what mattered to me, but the more that I think about it, the more I realise that it’s true.

But overall, this obsession doesn’t make me feel like I’m living a fulfilling life and at the end of the day, as I really think about it – living a fulfilling life is what truly matters to me.

I realise that this statement is very vague but I want to dig a little deeper (props to that wonderful Disney song!) What does this actually mean?

  • Being healthy to live a long life
  • Contribute to wider society and local communities daily
  • Spend as much of my time doing something I enjoy and love
  • Not sweating the small stuff
  • Create and maintain nourishing relationships with a partner and group of friends
  • Spending time with my family and sharing my new experiences and growth with them (there’s honestly nothing better than this)
  • Connect with other likeminded people who push me to be a better person
  • Take care of more plants and basically become a plant mom

The overall theme here is connection…whether that is a plant or a human.

It is blindly obvious to me that in the long run, what really matters isn’t ticking my endless lists of to dos, recognition, money, status, the “grind and hustle” If there was one list I would ever want to focus on above everything else, it would be my list of living a fulfilling life.

It’s easy to get swept away in all our incredible ideas that promises to be world-changing, and forget what is truly important.

Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that I will stop creating to-do lists or work on my goals and ambition! This is simply a reminder that sometimes we gotta ground ourselves a bit, take a step back, breathe and live a little.

So give your mom a call – she misses you, actually spend time with your partner instead of hunching behind a screen, spend time flooding your new apartment with indoor plants (guilty)!! Take time out of your day to ask yourself what truly matters in your own world.

You’ll be surprised that it is not what you think it is on the surface.

Honestly, just listen to Dig A Little Deeper and let Mama Odie tell you.

8 responses to “What really matters”

  1. Beautiful insights Pauline. This mirrors my journey and discoveries about the necessity and benefits of downtime. I call this “creating space for my best work.”

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

    1. Thanks for reading Renee and sharing your insight 💕

  2. I loved reading this because I’m going through the same thing and having the same realizations. I always aim to be productive and I always feel like I’m wasting time whenever I don’t get stuff done. But as I realized time and time again, “me time” is just as important as hustling and ticking off all those to-do items! This is why I’m actively making [drastic] changes to my lifestyle to make room for all the other things that I enjoy besides work. After all, I am more than my job title or my accomplishments at work. I am a real person with other interests and a life outside work, and it’s important that I constantly remind myself of that by making time for the things that matter to me.

    Thanks for sharing this Pauline! 🙂

    1. YES. YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR JOB TITLE! Thank you for sharing your insights Claudine!

  3. This is all good information. As someone who suffers with Chronic Illness I had to come to terms with how much I should do to keep from hurting myself or making myself sicker. It was hard at first. I loved coming home and sitting at my computer, working on my blog and writing my stories, making costumes, doing photography going to conventions and more… but when I started to get brain fog and random pain spread through my body I had to come to terms with not sitting at my computer all day long or being as active. I needed to rest my mind as well and let myself relax and not feel guilty about it.

    When you mentioned you started to feel lazy I felt that big time. It is even harder when people around you don’t understand and think you are lazy as well. The guilt can be bad but I have learned to not let it get to me as much and actually start to be proud of what I can get done without pushing myself too hard.

    I’m glad you are finding your downtime though. It is good for the mind and body. ♥

    1. I think increasingly in the world that we live in, being constantly on and “hustle” mode is the ideal way of working but as we’re quickly seeing, it’s not making us any better but in the long run, feel worse. Thanks for sharing your experience Ashley 😄

  4. I’m so agree with you (and I still didn’t subscribed to Netflix hahah) I know how much down time can help, but I still not in the mindset to take it. Because I don’t feel that I work well my uptime, so I always run off my schedules. It’s something I’m trying to work on and that cause me so much stress. But yes, at the end what matters is live, love, experience.
    So inspiring 🙂
    xx Dasynka

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Dasynka! 😄 You’re totally right, it’s so needed.

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