As I was nearing 13 kilometers, my longest run since my half marathon in May, I caught my toe on the curb and stumbled into a Superman dive. I would like to think it was the dive of a superhero, and that’s why I walked away with just a few scrapes and bruises. Lately, I do feel like I have superhuman powers as I juggle my three jobs, but today, as I nurse my wounds, I’m realizing that I can’t do it all. I need to stumble towards something better.
Honestly, it wasn’t just today that I had this realization. It’s been building up. I guess it started a few months ago when I bought a Hallmark birthday card, just because it spoke to me. “The little things in life are the big things.” Inside it reads, “Happy Birthday to someone who’s always known that.” It sits on my kitchen table, a daily reminder to appreciate all the wonderful little things, and to remember that my decisions, no matter how little, will lead to something bigger. A series of decisions have led me back to where I was a year ago. Indeed, it is bigger – more responsibilities, more challenges. Both are good, but my work-life balance is going out the window. And when I do indulge in things that bring me joy, like running or spending time with loved ones, I feel guilty because I am thinking about work or receiving work-related texts. I know I shouldn’t whine – we all go through periods like this, right? And I chose this. Even though I knew it wouldn’t bring me joy-money-flow, I chose it.
What is this “Joy – Money – Flow” formula? Back to the build up of my realization. Last month, on a day that I was feeling particularly frustrated, I took an extra long lunch at a bookstore. Chris Guillebeau’s, Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant To Do (The Crown Publishing Group, 2016) spoke to me, so I bought it. (Just so you know, I don’t buy everything that speaks to me!) I loved his $100 Startup (The Crown Publishing Group, 2012), so I thought I could also gain some inspiration from this book. Tonight I finally dove in. In Born for This, Chris outlines his formula for what we should be looking for in a career, as follows:
- Something that makes us happy (joy)
- Something that’s financially viable (money)
- Something that maximizes our unique skills (flow)
This combination always seems to allude me. I’ve been lucky enough to have work that has brought me the joy and flow, but the money rarely follows. When I was younger and living in the East, I was able to let this slide as the cost of living was cheaper and I was still developing my skills. However, now that I am older and living in the West, the money part is a key ingredient for stumbling towards something better.
It goes beyond the money. I want to feel valued and know that my work makes a positive impact. I want to build a full life for myself, a life in which I am more than my career, where I can cultivate my hobbies and develop my skills, and be there for those who matter to me. My Superman dive, my brush with the unforgiving pavement, has made me realize that I am not a superhuman, and that I need to find my balance and a space where I have Joy-Money-Flow. I may stumble towards something better slowly, but I need to make a move in that direction. “The little things in life are the big things.”