Maybe I honestly only know one thing when it comes to changing your life, to making it truly your own. And it’s this.
Do more of what you love, less of what you don’t.
It really is just that simple.
Liz Gilbert writes about this in her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, except that she’s talking more about creativity, that it doesn’t have to be about some giant romantic passion. All you really have to do is follow your curiosity.
Looking back over my own life, I think that’s something I’ve always done. Always. Without any sense of gain or outcome, just following, just doing more of whatever I loved in that moment. Whether it was writing a report about cats with a girl up the block from me when we were 9, barred from actually having cats as pets by allergic members of our families, but checking books out of the library nevertheless and working on our oeuvre on the weekends. Just because we were interested. Whether it was studying Russian literature as an undergrad without any notion of a job later on that might require it. Just because I loved it. Or when I decided, four years ago, that it would be a good idea to start waking up at 4:30am on the weekdays, to have time to write. Just because I wanted to keep blogging, blog more, blog better.
Basically I did it all just for love.
I think when it comes to your life, just keep your attention, as much of it as you can spare, on the things you love. Do more of what you love, no matter what it is – whether it’s working on cars or baking or practicing yoga. Whatever : just do more of it.
I know it’s changed me, and changed the shape of my life, this sustained attention on what I love.
Worst case scenario of this proposal: you spend more time doing what you love. And “nothing” ever comes of it – i.e., you don’t make any money. It doesn’t become your career. You don’t get to quit your day-job. But guess what? You still win, because you’re spending more time doing what you love. And that, all on its own, can be enough. Can be the difference between a life that’s just OK and the life that you really want. The life where you’re driving, where you’re in charge, where you have an interest and you chase it, stay with it, love it.
The more time you spend doing what you love, the more you become those things. It’s just inevitable.
The more time I spent gardening and composting and tending bees, the more of a farmer I became. The more time I spent at my desk writing, the more of a writer I became. The more time I spent building my business, the more of a business owner I became.
The more time I spent thinking about and cultivating my own freedom of expression, the free-er I became.
Even around the constraints of a 9-to-5 that you don’t love with all your heart, you can still carve out time for those things you do love. You can still keep your eye on them all the time, counting the minutes til you can get back to them again.
And let them re-make you. In the image of what you love most.
Whatever you love, do MORE of it. Whatever you don’t, do less. Keep tipping the balance: always MORE of what you love.