opalmirror (opalmirror) wrote,

Paring Back While Moving Forward

Paring Back While Moving Forward: A friend of mine commented on feeling overwhelmed and wondering what major thing to drop in her life so she wouldn't go crazy. My advice to her was to stay invested in things that connect her with her future self -- that support the change into the person she wants to become. I continued with more commentary, along with some reflection on where I am and the paring back and changes I see starting as of my first day at work Monday:

Take a look at each thing in your life and what it does for you... maybe a mindmapping exercise. Think about what it is you need to feel whole. If you decide to drop some things to give yourself more options, that's a good thing. There are some things you need to keep up a tempo on (more business related or goal oriented work), but other stuff can come and go on a whim.

I decided in about 2004 or so to really focus on my work success... and after a lot of years a senior software engineer, a year or concerted effort got an opportunity to work on a brand new team starting up, which was getting a lot of management attention as a development area... then after a few years at that I received a promotion to a staff level engineer. What I put aside to do that was some club and hobby activity that I had been focusing on before, which also required a lot of hours driving (much harder after my move out to the country) and some from-home geeky time. It was a good tradeoff and the advanced position opened up a lot of job flexibility.

After Kathryn's death in 2009 I chose to try to drop off a lot of social activity and focus on work to stabilize my job and provide myself enough time to keep up with house and home stuff... and after a year I just felt more isolated and more distracted by trying to keep up with bills, home management, expenses -- and had no help for it. I was lonely and felt really stuck, and angry about my situation. Job change didn't help, so I tanked the work, sunk my fangs into my retirement (my only significant savings), and took a year-plus off to realign my life.

I now had time to confront the questions and initiate and complete actions in the following areas: What did I want out of life? How do I stay healthy? How do I address loneliness, isolation, and affordability of my life? What do I want to do for career down the road? What do I want to invest my own time in to feel my life is stable? What activities will engaging my creative needs? Do I have room for relationship? How long would it take to deal with all the stuff I had accumulated and left behind by Kathryn's death? Where would I move to? How could I repair my house and get it sold?

After the 13 months off I'm much financially poorer, but personally richer. I've moved to Eugene, partnered with Katrina, involved myself in expanding photography hobby and music, spent a lot of time social networking, got rid of a ton of belongings, stored a few others, repaired the house, and got it on the market. I've gone part way in a program of study and have determined it suits me well. Finance implores I stop bleeding my savings, so I've managed to land a job which looks like it will solve that, won't create major new problems, and likely be personally rewarding, at least for a few years.

With the new job, I'm looking at another paring back here soon too. I have had unstructured days and haven't always been productive in them, but the time I have had while Katrina is at work is mine. This is going to radically change. I will have to be very choosy about hobbies. I have always wanted a extended sabbatical and I have made that happen! Now it is back to the dual income, no kids life and careful application of evenings and weekends. I think I'm ready to give it a try.

Happiness is having choices.
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