It was less than a year ago when I was sitting in my apartment, thinking that life was comfortable. I had a reputable, successful, and rewarding job as an international school teacher; more than three months of vacation a year; a generous salary; and the opportunity to travel and live where I chose. I really had nothing to complain about, yet I found myself asking, “Is this it? Is there more to life than this?” I felt greedy; that I ought to have gratitude for what I do have and not expect anything more. Over the past several years, I had built up my career, already took two separate years off to travel the world; and had a long list of professional and personal accomplishments. But I sat there envisioning the next few predictable years: work hard; then go on vacation for indulgence or adventure. Repeat. I did this in my daily life, too. Work hard; reward myself. Repeat.
What was this nagging persistence that I was missing something in life? I didn’t want more success, more wealth, or more vacations. I didn’t want to buy a house, settle somewhere, or whatever else most people thought I “should” do as my next step. I didn’t have a lifelong dream that I wanted to pursue because on many levels, I had attained my goals: to travel, teach, be financially independent, and live where I wanted.
So then began my journey of “Why Not?” You can apply this to your own situation, and for me, it was, “Why not quit my job and start leading worldwide yoga retreats?” Nothing was stopping me, and it was completely up to me how far I was willing to entertain this idea. One minute? One month? One year? Indefinitely? On good days, I’d take the initiative, stick with my idea, be open to uncertainty, experiment, and think unconventionally. On other days, I’d feel frustrated that things weren’t going as I had planned; impatient when things happened too slowly; anxious when I didn’t know what I was doing; or nostalgic of a secure lifestyle that I had given up. It was also easy to create excuses. “If only I had ______, then life would be perfect.” If only I had: time/knowledge/experience/connections/a particular person/money/help, then it would be so much better/easier/awesomer. Right?
What’s amazing about our thinking is that we can change it. Why not re-write my life plan to not have a plan? Although I am still practicing to let go of what life “should” look like, there is an incredible (and sometimes unnerving) sense of freedom to live my life as I choose. It is a big responsibility, but when it comes down to it, you are the creator of your own reality as much as your own excuses. You choose.
Choose if you want to stay in your situation, patterns, and emotions. Choose what you want to let go of. Choose what you want to focus on. Choose the depth of each of your experiences.
It was that moment, less than a year ago, that I paused and reviewed my life. That nagging feeling was the start of paying attention to that inner voice. What did I want? What was important to me? What did I like? What was not working? What was not happening? What was I triggered by? What was I dissatisfied with? Once I unraveled these pieces, there was much greater insight into who I was, where my fears came from, what I wanted, and the creation of fulfillment on the inside and out. Many people talk about finding your passion, but I like to think of it as setting yourself free. When this happens, life transforms and unfolds in remarkable ways.
Tammy is a location independent yogi.