A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a friend. It was lovely. I mean, Edgar was there, too, so we were frequently interrupted by random WHY questions about anything and everything, but it was still great.
When I got home, I found that I was feeling envious of my friend. I was comparing my current situation to hers, and subsequently feeling jealous.
Let me explain.
My friend is awesome. She is an entrepreneur, a therapist, and a yoga instructor. and she is currently running two businesses – a private therapy practice and a children’s yoga business. We talked together about my envy; I explained to her that I mostly felt jealous of how inspired and motivated she is. And that is accurate.
However, by the time I got home and was chatting with Tamara about it, I found myself making mental plans to become a certified yoga instructor (the last yoga class I participated in was in July 2019) and to open up a private therapy practice (which Tamara politely explained to me that I decided I wanted to postpone until our kids are older).
Why does this happen? When we compare ourselves to others, it’s almost always problematic. I know this – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t fall down that rabbit hole repeatedly.
The thing is, usually when envy strikes, I am envious of someone who has what I actually want. Like a blogger who is making good money writing from home about the things she’s passionate about. So why did I spend half a day feeling envious and confused after a coffee date with a friend who is doing awesome things – but not the awesome things I want to do?
I decided that it was about clarity of purpose. I envy my friend’s inspiration and motivation, for sure – but that doesn’t mean that I want to pursue the specific goals and dreams that she is pursuing. And in the midst of this crazy life – little kids, full-time job, new house, adult responsibilities – it’s easy for me to become unclear about what my priorities are.
A few years ago, I hung a bulletin board on my bedroom wall and pinned three flowery note cards to it. There was a single word on each of the three cards: family; service; writing. My three priorities. The three purposes of my life. Loving and caring for my family; being of service to others, however I can; and writing. When I started feeling distracted and disgruntled, and making plans to become a yoga instructor, I remembered these three words and it helped me to come back to center and remember what I care about the most.
This is all related to my birthday funk. When I start to feel regretful and worried about achieving my goals, it helps me to have clarity of purpose and a plan of action. My clarity of purpose, I decided, is those three words – family, service, writing – plus three more: adventure, wellness, and simplicity. When I think about the past and the future, I think a lot about adventure and travel; they’re important to me, and they have often been neglected due to other responsibilities. When I think about life right now, I realize that wellness is a theme running through everything; I can’t achieve my goals if I’m not taking care of my overall mind-body-soul wellness. And finally, the priority of simplicity is really about frugality and minimalism – living simply and saving money.
Thinking about those six priorities – family, service, writing, adventure, and wellness – helps me to focus. When I am clear about my priorities, I don’t get sidetracked making plans to open up various businesses that aren’t in line with my current plans and passions.
Now that I’ve been writing my way through my birthday funk, I’m a little grateful for it. It’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of life as a working parent with little kids. I’m happy to be reminding myself of my goals, and getting some clarity about what’s most important to me in this life.