A few days ago, I was sitting in an office at my day job. It was just a typical day, but today I was in pain. It was in the afternoon on a gorgeous spring day, the sun shining brightly outside my window. I so badly wanted to be out there, outside, not stuck in front of a computer screen in a stuffy office. I remember asking myself “Is this what my life will add up to? Will I miss out on the best parts of life because of responsibilities, work, and adulthood?”
I know that we were made to do so much than just work, retire then die. Life is meant to be fun, and if it’s not, we must change something, and change something soon. I want to go kicking and screaming into my coffin, yelling “What a ride!” I want my life to be one grand adventure, and I bet you do too.
But too often, as we transition out of childhood, we lose something precious that we never find again. We lose our joy. With adult responsibilities and priorities, we begin to lose that spark in our eyes, the life in our steps. We grow jaded and tired, taken in by the busyness our lives so quickly become consumed by. To-do lists and planners start to run our lives, and time goes by faster and faster each day.
“Where has the time gone?” we ask ourselves, as we desperately attempt to chase it down, but all in a futile effort, because the busier you are, the faster time flies. At least, so it seems.
Where has the time gone?
But there is hope, because we have the power to make change in our lives. The first step starts with our attitude. If we can choose a positive, joyful attitude when we don't feel like it, our lives will start to change for the better. But if have a negative outlook on life, we will see all the bad things and miss out on the good that is right in front of us. Remember, happiness is an inside job.
Below are four ways you can take back your joy and not let adulthood suck the joy and life out of you. But this isn't only for those just coming into adulthood. This is for anyone who has lost their joy and wants to find it again, no matter the age.
1. Fight for joy
Joy is one of the most precious and important things we have in life, yet most of us have forsaken ours in the name of "growing up." We have replaced our child-likeness with the chase of boring achievements which will be totally worthless in the end. In the process of trying to reach the top, we have lost the very thing that makes life so sweet.
But it's time to take back our joy. This is your permission to do that.
This is permission to laugh a little more. Permission to smile out loud even when no one is smiling back. To not take yourself so seriously all the time. To be curious about the little things that you usually miss. To stop being so busy. To take time to do nothing at all.
Please, find your joy again. The world needs you to. When work and responsibilities and busyness threaten to kill what's most important, fight back. Fight back when adulthood trys to suck it out of you. Because it will try. It will try to do whatever it can to turn you into a grumpy, cynical, no-fun person that no one wants to be around.
Let us never get so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. Fight back.
2. Work harder on your dreams
Work harder is likely one of the last phrases you want to hear when trying to bring joy back into your life. But here's the plain truth: we need money to live. So we need to work. And if this is something that is a necessity, shouldn't we at least do work that we enjoy? I say why not.
Find what you love to do, and find a way to make money by doing that. What's most important to you for your lifestyle? Is it geographical freedom to work wherever you want, or is it more time to spend with people, or is it a steady paycheck, or is it something else? Then build a business or find a job that supports that lifestyle.
We all have the same 24 hours in every day and the same 365 days in a year. It's not about how much time we have, but what we choose to do with that time. You don't have time to start a business on the side? Do you watch TV? OK, no more watching TV. Do you get 8 hours of sleep? OK, now you only get 7 hours. There are always ways to create more time. It depends on what you want out of life.
We always make time for what's important to us. And it might be time to change what we consider important. Less Netflix, more hustle.
3. Never stop learning
In our childhood, we were always learning. Either through formal education, or naturally due to our unquenchable curiosity about life. But when we "grow up," we often lose that desire to keep learning and growing. We think that we're done learning after we graduate. But no, our transition into adulthood is an invitation to become even more passionate and motivated about growth. To intensify the learning process. So how do we keep learning and growing our minds?
Reading books is the quickest and easiest way. Read a few books on leadership, on business, or on whatever interests you. The stats say that one in four Americans didn't read a book in the last year, so if you can read just two books you can put yourself further ahead than most! Learn from other people. Find a mentor. Study those who have gone before you, who are where you want to go.
Two books a year puts you ahead of most Americans.
Keep learning new skills. Always be working on something new that excites you. Try out a coding class, or try to build a computer, or start a blog, or ask Dad how to build a wall shelf. Skills are what make you valuable when no one else has them. Skills are your future.
You can learn anything you want about anything you want in today's age of the Internet and unlimited access to information. What's holding you back? No more excuses. Radical responsibility for what we consume.
4. Busy is the enemy
I strongly believe that one of the greatest and most dangerous killers of our dreams and our joy is this one thing: busyness. We are always rushing about, going from one place to the next in a vain attempt to get everything done that we think we need to do.
But being too busy is nothing more than an admission of not being in control of our time. It means that I don't have the self-control and discipline to use my time on what's important. It means that I'm allowing other people to hijack my time. Thus, I'm allowing them to hijack my life.
Fight for extreme ownership of your life.
We must get rid of this excuse. Ditch it. You are in charge. No one else, not the government, not the school system, not your parents can change the course you are on. Sure, they can interrupt your progress at times, but only you can let them stop it. Fight for extreme ownership of your life. Your thoughts, your beliefs, and most importantly, your actions.
Fight busyness. If it helps, plan time for spontaneity in your calendar. Create time and space to do whatever you feel like doing during that time. Because if you don't, sooner or later you'll burn out. And joy is hard to find when you're burnt out.
Planning is good and necessary, but too much will kill us and our creativity over time. Our plans eventually start to suck the joy out of our lives.
Let's never get too busy trying to make a living that we actually forget to make a life. When the world tries to suck the life out of you, I hope you respond with a resounding "Hell no!"
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Practical Next Steps
Honestly ask yourself these questions: "Have I lost my joy? Has life sucked the life out me?"
Likely the answer will have a varying degree of Yes. I know that was the case with me. Now ask yourself what you can do to bring joy back into life? What did you quit doing that seemed child-ish that you need to start doing again? What do you enjoy that isn't considered "grown up?" Start doing those things again. It doesn't matter what they think or say.
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