Week 3! I’m loving the questions so far. If you’re following along, feel free to steal the above picture and link to your blog in the comments! I’d love to hear your answers. My friend Hanna answered these questions all in one go, and they sure were fun to read! Anyways, on with today’s answer!
I’ll acknowledge that life is short, and sometimes painfully so. I’d love to say that we should live in the moment and live like there’s no tomorrow – but for most of us, that’s not realistic. There is a tomorrow, and a next month, and 10-70 years ahead of us, and reality dictates that we have to prepare for that. Some of the things I don’t like are things that are good for me, like eating vegetables and running or being active semi-regularly. In the long run, both activities will increase my quality of life and allow me to do things that I love, like backpacking and hanging out with my husband. I don’t like statistics but I love psychology, so I practice statistical problems so that I can be a better psychology student in the long run. I hate studying for the GRE, but I study so I can get better GRE scores and go to graduate school and eventually do research and public policy in the future. Not liking something doesn’t automatically equate it with something that isn’t good for you or worthwhile.
That being said, it’s easy to find yourself stuck in a dead-end job because you’re “just doing what needs to be done.” Money can be a strong motivator, but sometimes it’s worth taking a risk career-wise to better your life. Maybe it’s worth quitting a job that constantly stresses you out for a lower paying job. Maybe it’s worth changing your degree to something you truly love even if it won’t be as competitive once you graduate. You don’t want to stick yourself with something that you hate long term, and then look back years from now and find that you just spent ten years doing something that cost you your sanity.
I also think that things we like but can’t often do also tend to be the things we can’t immediately afford. Personally, I’d love to go on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, followed by the Pacific Crest Trail, and then the Continental Divide Trail. The Appalachian Trail alone takes almost 6 months, and I believe a thru-hike of the PCT is around 9 months. In order to complete it, you either have to be young with no responsibilities or older and retired with no responsibilities, OR you have to make a sacrifice and be willing to quit your job, move out of your apartment, and walk the trail knowing you may not have a place to stay at the end of it all. It takes both money and time, both of which are in short supply at my age (and most ages, if I were to be honest).
If I had more money, I would love to spend it on trips to Tanzania, Antarctica, and Nepal. I’d go on a yoga retreat to Costa Rica. Spencer and I would finally be in Iceland, and we’d make near monthly trips to Washington. I know that I’ll get to each of those places eventually, but I have to find a middle ground between what I need to do at this stage in life and what I wish I were doing.
In reality, we often strike a balance between doing the things we don’t like (but have to) and doing the things we do like. I know that I can feel when this balance is out of whack. I’m sure you’ve felt it as well. That balance needs to be maintained for the most part. At points along the way we can tip the scales in favor of the “want-to-dos” and momentarily forget about the “have-to-dos”, but we still have to keep our long term goals and dreams in mind. Spencer and I will be going to Iceland in the next five years, but we currently have a few hurdles to jump over before we can really be in a good place to take that trip. When we finally land in Reykjavík with our student loans paid off, our graduate education mostly completed, and our cars paid for, I believe that we’ll enjoy the trip that much more knowing that we haven’t put our futures in jeopardy to do so. In fact, we will have taken the time to set ourselves up for success, which will hopefully tip the scale in favor of more “want-to-dos” in the future.