Most of our life, most of our life, is spent chasing the big things. It’s what I call the milestone mindset. It’s the mindset that solely focuses on the milestone after milestone.
That promotion, the nice car and then the even nicer car, the money, the partner of our dreams, the house of our dreams and then the ‘bigger dream’ house. Our life can feel like we are living to get to the next thing, as if happiness is achieved once we have ticked off everything on our to-do list.
But most of life isn’t milestones, most of our life is a normal Wednesday morning.
Most of our life is actually washing the dishes.
Let me explain.
Life in a Nutshell
Life is a funny thing. We’re here for a short time, if you’re lucky enough to have all your basic survival needs met, shelter, water, food, you start to think of the bigger things. Huge questions like “why are we here?” and “what am I meant to do with my life?” Because they are so huge, they can overwhelm us.
You can, if you’re not careful fall into a rabbit hole. As if your sole purpose is to discover your purpose. It’s good to question life, to have thoughts about the bigger picture and what you want to achieve in this world. That makes total sense.
However, the weight of having a ‘sole purpose’ is pretty heavy and can be all encompassing if you let it.
If by 25 we haven’t discovered your purpose you begin to worry as if the biological clock is running out and you might not find what you were born to do in this world. The milestone mindset takes over. You spend time scratching your head, getting upset and frustrated that you have this desire to achieve and find purpose but every rock you undercover it’s not there.
The big question is taking over your life and you forget that living your life is happening right now.
Think About the Big Questions Don’t Obsess Them
It’s good to have an aim, a purpose, something that you find meaningful to pursue. It brings with it a huge amount of pleasure to feel like you are working towards something bigger than yourself. That in itself can make you feel like you are on the path to find yourself.
However, continuously recovering old ground, beating yourself up because you’re not there yet and other time-wasting activities are just that, a waste of time.
This life is short, however long it is. Who knows how long it will last, spend time loving people, caring about the world and its problems, finding joy and creating things you are proud of. Don’t waste your precious time obsessing about the things that you aren’t going to change by obsessing. Constantly thinking about the fact you haven’t yet found your passion, aside from the fact you don’t find passion you make it, isn’t going to get you any closer to finding it.
It’s good to ponder life, it’s not so good to keep revisiting the same thoughts with no tangible steps to change things.
Most of Life Isn’t Milestones
Despite what Instagram tells you, most of life isn’t a new car, house, a new watch, a little puppy (although I wish it was), a fill-in-the-blank. Most of your life is unloading the dishwasher (or washing the pots if you are like me, without said dishwasher), cooking dinner, feeding the dogs, doing the washing, hoovering the stairs. It’s the morning coffee, it’s that 2L of water you try and drink most days and fail, it’s convincing yourself to fold your pyjamas instead of throwing them next to the bed.
Most of life is the boring, ‘uninstagrammable’, stuff.
Those are the things you actually spend most of your life doing. Most of the time life is the mundane, the stuff that you do day in, day out. Most of life is the habits you make (and the habits you spent time trying to break).
Most of your life is the time spent somewhere along the way. Not at the milestone, its between milestones.
And the thing that will ruin your normal moments is the expectations you put on yourself. This idea that we have to be somewhere by a certain age.
There Will Always Be Another Milestone — The ‘Milestone Mindset’
If we race through life trying to obtain whichever milestone is next on the list, life all of a sudden becomes a tick box exercise. You’ll make a decision not to see your friend because you’ve got to work hard to buy that car. You might not go and see your parents on a weekend because you need to write this article that might be ‘the article’.
But really, we could do both. And if we had to choose, it would be the one that brings you most joy.
When life becomes a series of goals, milestones to achieve, it becomes a fixed idea, a race to get to the finish line. Once you’ve hit all your milestones, then what? Have you completed life?
Life isn’t a tick-box exercise. Sure it’s great to have goals; and milestones have an important part in our motivation and mindset but they aren’t the only things in life.
And there will always be another one.
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, aspiring to have more, live in a nice house, have a nice car. Nice things are appealing, it makes sense to want them.
But when you spend all your time obsessing about the next milestone you forget that the real stuff, life, is happening right now. Life is happening between milestones.