For what feels like weeks, I've been unable to complete a single blog post. It's not for lack of trying, but it is for a lack of coherence. Regardless of the time or effort put into the project, the end result just isn't worth sharing with the world. I'd like to follow up with "and that's fine" … but it's not. Not for me.
In the space of three days, four people have asked me to spend less time working: a friend, my wife, and two senior-level colleagues at the day job. At about the same time, some of the philosophical concepts I've been studying have started to click as the ever-present cognitive chatter turned to the matter of introspection and analysis. Despite all the good that has happened this year, I have found myself lacking enthusiasm for my work. In all seriousness, despite the mountain of tasks in front of me, I've been bored out of my mind.
This is a good thing, though. That boredom allowed me to think through some questions that have followed me around for years without answer. What's interesting is not so much the specific queries themselves, but that I may have found an answer to one of the more fundamental questions: What do I want?
Everyone is responsible for answering this question as it applies to their life, and the answers will hopefully evolve over time as people accomplish goals and experience life-changing events. For some the answer could be something as simple as "money" or "fame" or "a house with a two-car garage". For me, I thought for a long time the answer was money. Later I thought the answer was problem solving. More recently I thought it was recognition. But none of these have brought me happiness or personal satisfaction for very long. Once achieved to some degree, these things bore me. Money is important, but the quest to earn more does not interest me. Problem solving is one of the few things I'm actually good at, but what value is there in solving problems that may not need solving? Recognition is a wonderful thing for the ego, but it can be incredibly stressful to try and maintain whatever it is that brought a person recognition.
At some point during the day on Monday, something in my head just clicked and I knew what I wanted. The previous answers I had for the question all suffered from the fact that they were external validators. Other people needed to be part of whatever equation that might result in happiness. Just like building a house on sand, this can lead to some pretty weak foundations. Everybody is ultimately responsible for their own happiness. It cannot be bequeathed. This led me to understand what it was that I needed to do.
The thing I really want is time. Time to read. Time to play with my son. Time to walk Nozomi. Time to bake some obscure recipe from a book published before I was born. Time to spend with the handful of people I count as family and friends. Time to write. Time to be bored.
How will I get this? Priorities need to change. Expectations must be better communicated. Realities will be accommodated. For too long I've tried to fight the clock in order to squeeze as much productivity out of every minute. This can certainly lead to a whole lot of tangible results, but not always the ones we want. I've worked incredibly hard over the last two decades to build the life that I am incredibly fortunate to have. It's time to enjoy it while I can.