Is it safe to assume that most of us have been taught what I like to call “Society’s Success Template”?
From observing others and their satisfaction with life after achieving “success”, the assumption seems to have some weight.
The template looks something like this: get high school, decide what to do with the rest of your life at 18 (maybe younger), go to college, graduate, get a 9-to-5 gig, get married, and start a family – all while climbing the corporate ladder until you are “happy” with your position.
I never questioned this template because that’s what I saw as a kid, it’s what was portrayed on TV shows, and how I was programmed to function. I accepted that social expectation and was on my way to fulfilling that expectation until an Uber driver said something that changed my perspective.
“Focus on lifestyle creation, not a career … just pursue how you want to live life.”
To be clear, the Uber driver didn’t suggest dropping out of college. Instead, he suggested that more effort and attention be paid to that Life You want to create because, in his words, “that’s what’s left for you”.
Getting a college education is important, but it shouldn’t be the core of your existence. Life itself should be the core.
Contributing to society by harnessing talent and building a career that you love should be an aspect of life while memories should be central.
We shouldn’t neglect a joyous existence to fight for titles and awards because these things come and go, but Time passes without the promise of more.
At the end of the day, you won’t remember the Biology 101 course you took in college. Instead, remember those late nights when you had to laugh with friends or the times when you had the courage to try something new.
Finding a balance between work and leisure is important, which is why I am a huge advocate of the slow living movement. In short, the slow living movement promotes mindfulness in a world that is designed for fast pace.
If you want to create a different template for your life, researching alternative lifestyles that emphasize more balance is key. To get started, starting today, there are three things you can do to set boundaries, assess your priorities, and take time to experience things other than work or school.
For me, my priority is being healthy – both mentally and physically – so I take time every day to address these needs. How I meet these needs varies throughout the year, but they are never checked for school or work.
When I’m mentally and physically unwell, the core of my template crumbles, affecting my ability to bring my talents to society or build a career.
It is a bold statement to say, “Create a lifestyle, not a career,” because that’s not what society is made for. However, it’s up to us to change that script and enjoy life.
Aaliyah Alexander studies journalism and international studies. Follow her on Twitter @aaliyahdanyell.