How to Create Space for What You Love (Even if You Hate Your Life Right Now)

 

man creating with paint on canvasI admit it: I hate my life right now. I am feeling overworked, underpaid, and asked to take on more each and every year. Part of it has to do with recent leadership changes where I work. In the last three years, the college I work for has had three different deans. Each leader has his or her own priorities and initiatives, and the faculty and staff are faced with making sure the previous initiatives continue and starting the new ones that the new leader wants to implement. On Tuesday, I will be having a difficult conversation with the Administration, explaining that I need my nights and weekends back and asking what can either be dropped or shifted to someone else.

Does this sound good to you, or does the idea of having such a candid conversation with your boss scare you? Do you wish you had the courage to go into work and tell your boss the same thing? Well, let me tell you, I am scared to do it and scared to write about it here, but I am writing about it because if I publish my plan to my blog, then I am holding myself accountable!

And that’s what today’s post will be about. We are going to take a hard look at what isn’t working in our lives and determining the changes we need to make so that we can have enough time to create. Because that’s ultimately what makes us happy, and we deserve to be happy.

When Is the Last Time You Felt Truly Happy and Free?

smiling woman on swing over waterfall and cliffs

You know that you are a writer and an artist. I don’t need to tell you that because if you were anything else, you wouldn’t’t be here reading this post. So grab that journal that you haven’t been able to fill and journal for the next fifteen minutes on this one question: When is the last time I felt truly happy and free? What were you doing the last time you felt absolutely fantastic? Maybe you were out dancing or spending an evening in snuggling with your kids. Or freaking writing something amazing. Or maybe it wasn’t really that brilliant. Maybe it was a seed, the promise of a finished artwork like a crazy little poem or something that could one day turn into a song or a screenplay or an opus. Whatever it was that made you feel happy and free, spend the next fifteen minutes journaling and identifying what that was.

I did this exercise myself this morning and discovered it was when I was working on my novel, hands down. The last time I wrote, the words were just flowing and I felt the tension draining from my body, and when I was done with my work for the day, I felt pure joy — the kind of joy I felt as a kid, jumping into the pool with my knees clutched to my chest, trying to create the biggest cannonball, the biggest splash I could with my 80-pound body. I also used to enjoy playing soccer and kicking the freaking ball as hard as I could without a care in the world where it would go. This exercise told me a couple of things:

  1. I need to schedule more time to write.
  2. I need more physical activity in my life.

So this is the first question you need to answer for yourself: When is the last time you felt truly happy and free? Don’t think about it for another second: just grab your journal or a piece of paper and write about it.

What Can You Either Drop or Outsource?

woman sharing report with executives in office

Now it’s time to ask what we can let go of in order to create more space in our lives for what we love. In my case, this is writing and playing sports and going on mini hikes over the weekend.

As I mentioned above, some extra duties this year are causing me to work long nights and weekends, so it’s time to identify some job responsibilities that can either be shifted to someone else, revisited at a less busy time, or dropped entirely. Since my role involves a lot of web communications and marketing duties are public facing, I am going to propose to my administration that the internal facing communications shift to another staff member.

Now it’s your turn: what responsibilities do you have that you can ask others to take over? How many hours of your life would you get back if you asked for just a little help? Often, it’s not the amount of time these things take but the amount of our energy they drain from us. We need to get our energy back so that we can create the time and space in our lives for more of what we love.

Where Do You Need to Advocate for Yourself?

If you don’t feel comfortable asking a loved one, co-worker, or manager to help out with the duties or responsibilities that you see as non-essential, then the question you need to ask is, Where Do I Need to Advocate for Myself? Answering this question openly and honestly will help you identify areas in your life that are bringing you down. If you continue to journal about it and set an intention to start asking for what you want or need, you will eventually build the courage to be able to ask. The worst that can happen is that the person receiving the question will say no. And, even if the answer is no, it still might be possible to work out a compromise, one that is a win for both sides.

Revise Your Schedule

day planner on desk with candleOnce you successfully remove the obstacles that drained your time and energy, it is time to take a look at your schedule. Maybe you set up a series of play dates for your kids or got your lunch hour back. Whatever the case, celebrate your win and see where your revised schedule will allow time for you to do more of what you love.

If you have been overworked for a long time, then it’s okay to at first just take some time for yourself. Maybe you need to take a short walk during your lunch hour or soak in the tub while your kids are out of the house. Sometimes you need to allow yourself to start feeling better before you can make big changes. That is absolutely okay, so start with small changes if you need to. Continue to listen to yourself and journal about what you’re feeling and what is calling to you. There is no need to add anything extra at this point. Just be aware of what your preferences are and where your intuition is leading you.

Live Your Dream

two women holding up a treat and looking at the beachMaking small changes will eventually lead to much bigger ones. This is important. As artists and writers, we can often feel that life treats us a little unfairly. We need to support ourselves just like everyone else even though we may not be wired for a regular job and have other responsibilities that waste our time and energy. When it comes right down to it, though, we are ultimately in control.

Identifying the problem is the first step. Advocating for ourselves comes next. We may not always get what we ask for, but we can at least try to be open to alternatives that are proposed to us when we ask for what we want. If we do this enough in our lives, we will have the courage to live life on our own terms and to create a life with enough time and space for the art, craft, or activities that we love to do, that light us up inside, and that allow us to experience sheer joy.

If you are struggling to live your dream, I encourage you to try these steps and hope you get the results that will make you happy. Be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments!

10 Replies to “How to Create Space for What You Love (Even if You Hate Your Life Right Now)”

  1. Most times I try my best to create space for photography which is what I love. But there are more pressing needs like making more money. I know one can make a whole lot from photography but am just starting. So I decided to try and fix the weekends for that.

    Most times it’s not easy to find time for what you love, but just know if you don’t find that time, you would end up regretting working yourself all up without enjoying any part of it.

    1. You are absolutely right, Nsikakabasi! If we don’t allow ourselves to create the lives we ultimately want, we will regret it later on. Often, there is pressure to conform to societal expectations of how we should spend our time, but ultimately, we need to decide what is right for us. I am glad you are pursuing photography, and I wish you the very best with your endeavor!

  2. Hello Laura,

    Your blog post has always been an inspiration to me each time I open to read your article, and I also found today’s topic exciting. There is no reason for you to hate your life so far. You are living your dreams. I thank you for outlining how to create space for what we love. It’s quite insightful.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Ola, You bring up a good point: I actually really love the life I have crafted for myself, but, like everyone else, I have my rough patches, and I’m quite open about them here because I know others can relate. I’m so glad you found today’s post insightful. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. Interesting article on ways to make space and time for what you love. Work could be daunting and uninteresting a times when it takes up all your time leaving you no time for other activities. Outsourcing is a great way to start as it relieves you the burden of having to do everything on your own.

  4. An excellent treatise on how you can carve some space for yourself no matter the circumstance or means. I enjoyed reading through the tips you expanded on and also it felt genuine as you added in your own real-life experiences and feelings.

    I think most people have these feelings of just not having the time or space to do things that would like to be doing. The should, must, advisable, it would be better, and more phrases and words from inside yourself or from others gets in the way too much.

    In my own case, having been in some really stressful and quite dangerous situations at times, have committed to carving that space out, even if it is a limited amount as in time or area even. I refuse to let myself get hemmed in by others more than I decide I want to let them do it.

    Your ideas did give me some food for thought, and I have bookmarked the post so I can visit again and read it over once or twice more. I know there is always room for improvement, and I certainly am open to that. Thanks for a great and useful post, I hope you get all the space you need when you need it always! 

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dave! I’m glad you found the post helpful. Sorry to hear about the stress you encountered in your life. I am glad, though, that you have learned from it rather than get “hemmed in” or thrown by unrealistic expectation. It sounds like you’ve learned from your experiences, and that is very life affirming. Wishing you joy and success going forward!

  5. When I read your post, I started thinking of something the late Jim Rohn use to say:

    “Nothing in your life will change until YOU change. Nothing in your life will get better until YOU get better”

    That statement has literally changed my life…profoundly!

    You made an interesting admission right at the beginning of your post:  

    “I admit it: I hate my life right now. I am feeling overworked, underpaid, and asked to take on more each and every year.”

    When I read that statement it reminded me that emotions are one of the most powerful forces inside us. Under the power of emotions, human beings can manifest tremendous accomplishments. Emotions are the fuel that propels us toward our goals.

    What many who are “stuck” in life fail to realize is they don’t allow their emotions to fuel their desire for a better life. They talk about their emotions, they stew in their emotions, but they don’t USE their emotions. What is interesting about  DISGUST is most people do not equate “disgust” as a positive motivator.

     Here is a absolute fact – when “DISGUST” is properly channeled, this powerful emotion can change a persons life. When you have enough “PAIN” in your life, when you are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” you reach a level in your emotions where you can become almost unstoppable in the attainment of worthy goals.

    You get to a place where you reach a point of no return. I’ve been there. I’ve had so much pain in my life I use to repeat the words of the late Malcolm X: “By Any Means Necessary!” Disgust and pain motivated me so much that these emotions propelled me to a better life I could never enjoy before

     Reading your post make me think about everything I just mentioned above…Didn’t mean to go no so long!

     Very good post and a very thought-provoking topic.

    Talk Soon,

    Howard 

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Howard! I hadn’t seen that quotation by Jim Rohn, so I’m glad you shared it. It’s a good one. You make a good point about the importance of channeling negative emotions. You articulated that well, and I’m glad your life is moving in a more positive direction. Best wishes to you and happy writing.

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