So what’s next?
That’s the question everyone keeps asking me lately, which is fair, as today just so happens to be my last day in the Air Force!!!
There’s plenty more that I would like to say about my experiences and lessons learned while serving, but this isn’t a post about reflecting. Nor is it about looking forward. Believe me, I have many great ideas and plans for the near and distant future, but there will be time for that soon as well!
This is about taking a pause. A time-out of sorts.
So when people ask, “What’s next?” I tell them what I am most looking forward to is some time and space to think about my own life for a little while. I’m just so hungry for a break. Not a vacation. Not a day just to relax or “veg out” either. Just a break from the noise, standards, and expectations of the rest of the world.
You know, if your life is anything like mine, you haven’t had a real break in years.
Ever since the beginning of high school, well geez, school in general, our lives have been mostly mapped out for us. There are particular subjects we are required to take, standardized tests to pass, expectations we are held to, and standards we are measured against.
Pressure pours in from a variety of sources – our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and society in general. Our lives are filled with making and executing plans to sweep us from one expectation to the next, taking us to where we want to go, or in many cases, where others want us to go.
During some of those most chaotic and stressful years of our lives, we are expected to make important decisions that will shape the rest of our lives, and for the most part, we are ill-prepared to do so.
We make these decisions without much time and space for reflection, and without any real knowledge of who we are, what are talents are, or what we are truly passionate about.
Now, I don’t really have any regrets about the path I chose or *most* of the decisions I’ve made, because they’ve led me to exactly where I am right now. And I have to admit this is a pretty sweet place to be!
However, if as a high schooler I would have had more time and space to actually stop and think about the direction of my life, without homework, standardized tests, extracurriculars, sports, and a bunch of other weight being piled on my shoulders, I may have had a better idea about my true passions and talents sooner.
By that, I mean maybe I would have realized sitting in a lab conducting research, writing computer code, and all that jazz isn’t really ME. Sitting behind a desk for hours on end really isn’t me either. My energy comes from being around people, being outside, and creating awesome experiences!!
So what’s next?
Something that involves all of those things for sure. But this time, before just leaping into the next chapter of my life, I’m taking a time-out.
Okay, it’s more like half-time during a soccer game. You know, a chance to breathe, grab some water, and stretch. It’s a time to reflect on how the game is going so far, to regroup, and strategize for the upcoming half.
I looking forward to time to just be without having to do for a little while. Time to disconnect from the noise and fast pace of the modern world and to reconnect with myself and mother nature.
I am looking forward to that time to reflect on the first quarter of my life – all that I have experienced and learned, all that I have loved and lost, all that I have gained and accomplished.
I am looking forward to really and truly thinking through my plans for the future, and asking myself “Why do I want to do this or that?” I want to make sure that the path forward is one that actually makes sense to me.
When was the last time you took a half-time break to really think about your life?
I know, I know. It can be so hard when we have so much stuff we need to do at work and around the house. And then there’s the things we really want to do. Like for me, I can’t wait to get started on all my great ideas for the blog, writing my first ebook, and training for my Himalaya backpacking trip!!
But back to the soccer game. If we just keep playing straight through without a break, what happens?
Well, for one thing, we start to burn out. It’s hard to maintain that same level of energy, determination, enthusiasm, and focus without a break. Moreover, we are so caught up in what’s happening in the moment, we barely have any time to reflect on the bigger picture. Is our strategy even making sense?
So for me, “what’s next” is a half-time break before plunging right into the next chapter of my life.
No worries, this doesn’t mean a break from you! It just means a break from having to “have it all figured it out.” I’m giving myself permission to really think through and explore the possibilities.
As part of this soul-searching stage, I’m instituting something I like to call: “Me Mondays.”
That’s right, I’m officially declaring Monday as the best day of the week!!
For those of you who are already live in bliss on Mondays, kudos to you – I’m here to join!
From now on, I am going to take the majority of Monday to focus on activities that I enjoy, the ones that make me truly come alive. Things that stir my spirit and fill me with energy…
Like enjoying a lovely cup of french-press coffee on my back deck, journaling just for fun, going hiking with my dog, or curling up with a good book.
Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! Even if you’re still doing the 9-5 (which I’m not!! ), it’s still completely possible to at least take one hour of that Monday just for you.
Do something you love and don’t even think about feeling guilty about it!
So starting this coming week, I invite you to join me in reclaiming Mondays and turning them into “Me Mondays!”
Be wise. Live life!