What Do I Really Want My Life To Look Like?

garden of love-wilted rose

I’ve been working with a life coach for a few months now named Joy Stone, and she is phenomenal. I haven’t met her yet in person, but a few times a month we get on the phone for an hour and chat. And as much as I want to talk about what “problems” I’m facing in that moment, Joy always turns the question into a positive one and asks me: What IS working?

By the end of our call, I have about seven pages of my notebook scribbled with positive tools I can use to reach higher goals of peace, calm, quiet, and homework to practice that leads to a meaningful and more joyful life that isn’t focused on what’s not working. I look forward to our calls and occasionally, when my mind turns on me, I send her a frantic and panicked email at 6am detailing why I cannot sleep {more of what’s wrong, of course}. I’m grateful to have a teacher to turn to when I’m feeling most vulnerable.

From the very first call she has asked me these questions: What do I want my life to look like? If I had the perfect life, how would each day be? What do I really want?

And for the life of me, I cannot answer any of them completely. I can, however, tell her what I DON’T want pretty easily and in precise detail. But even I know that focusing on what we DON’T want just creates more of that in our everyday lives.

Right now, in this moment of time, when I think about what I actually do want my life to look like, how I’d like each day to unfold, and what “my dream life” would be, simply creates blank spaces in my mind. While I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can choose, I’m really not sure for the very first time in my life what I want it to be like. And this is alarming because I’ve always been a person who has known what I wanted out of life but suddenly I find myself in a place where I’ve accomplished goals I’ve set for myself, achieved things I thought I always wanted, and while that’s all fine and good, I’m left with one big daunting question: NOW WHAT?

What you learn after achieving said dreams and goals is that there is so much more to life than accomplished successes and material possessions, but you’ve spent so many years dreaming about those things coming into fruition thinking about life “if and then” that you forgot about the other parts in between. And then suddenly, you have to reevaluate everything you ever thought you wanted because life is not over. As you may have assumed while working toward your goal that life would suddenly be perfect or magical “once you just { fill in the blank }” you are still left with: NOW WHAT?

We’re all told that life is a journey and to enjoy the process and when you’re in the chaos that is that journey, finding it enjoyable is rather difficult. It’s not until the chaos subsides that you can look back in retrospect and see how alive you were while in the moments of the journey and see that sitting on top of your accomplishments isn’t nearly as fun as the journey was. So it’s true in every sense of the saying, enjoy the journey. That’s where the fun is. It truly is.

How much is enough?

Remember that everyone’s version of what a successful life is -is determined by different outcomes. While most people are searching for some sort of financial freedom, not everybody is looking for fame… or to be rich and famous. Unfortunately our world focuses on that kind of achievement as being at the top of the success pole when other jobs and careers are far more noble.

{ I think some people begin blogging with the idea of being famous, and to me, that is the scariest part. Though I’ve tried many professions that lead to fame because I’m a creative person, whenever they get to the point where I have to think about losing my privacy and being a famous person, and all the pressure that comes with that, I retreat. Even with blogging, this is one of the biggest reasons why I’ve never said yes to speaking gigs, doing events, etc. I love the creative outlet, I love being able to share and inspire, but I’ve never been in it to be a “famous blogger”. It may come with it in some cases, but it was never my goal. }

When we bought our house at the end of 2012 and began a new adventure in a new and much smaller town than the city we were both born and raised in, we were ready to breath in life, soak it up and enjoy ourselves more and leave that rat-race-get-to-the-finish-line mentality that is Los Angeles behind us. We were excited by the new seasons we were going to experience as well as this new and much slower life we were both so ready to live.

But by February, I had this nagging feeling like I needed to be doing more. I was searching for meaning in my life, a purpose beyond work or material goals and it felt like it needed to be monumental.

This thought always led me back to having children and raising a family, since to me, that was not only the thing missing from my life, but would surely bring meaning and purpose. It was my go-to answer to a purposeful life and most often led me to tears thinking about how I didn’t have it, and couldn’t create it.

And as soon as I began looking into adoption last March, I was offered a writing position at Babble Beauty and I couldn’t refuse. This new job surely kept the boredom at bay but it also kept me too busy to focus on that meaningful life I was searching for. As Summer emerged, they offered me another position in the Style section that I couldn’t refuse either. So just as I was about to be able to enjoy my first Summer by the lake, I had so much work to finish in a 30 day cycle {24 posts for Babble plus my own daily post for my blog} that I had no time for enjoyment, playing, or searching out my purpose and a meaningful life. And when I did play, I worried about not being able to get my work done. I was suddenly back in that rat-race mentality trying to get to some unforeseen finish line.

If you equal success to only dollar signs, the combined work I was creating was equalling large sums of money. But I was miserable for months.

In the past few months I’ve had to really evaluate my position… I didn’t start blogging to be a content machine, or to be so stressed out by the work that I gave myself vertigo, anxiety, and sleepless nights worrying I wasn’t going to get it all done. I started blogging so I could be my own boss, share my creativity, style tips, motivate and inspire others AND get to work at home when I finally became a mom.

But the mom thing didn’t happen, as you know, and I think to stave off emotional feelings about all that “failure” I busied myself to no end. So much busy work, no time for “me work”, no time to create new things, and definitely no time to find purpose and a meaningful life.

However, in the midst of all that busy work, I realized that meaning I was searching for may not end so easily by simply having a baby or adopting a child. I think now, it’s more than that. I think there are plenty of people who do find meaning in parenthood and love it, and I think I would definitely too, but that eventually a “what now” would follow that too.

It is only obvious now, a year later, as I find myself searching for that meaningful life again, that I ran from it rather than dig my heels in and search for it, and I did everything BUT find meaning. When my life coach asked me what my perfect life looked like I answered: Well, I’m living it I guess. And she said Then why are you so unhappy?

Life is hard. As soon as we get what we think we want, we’re slapped in the face with a reality that doesn’t look like the dreamy fairytale it was “supposed to” when we achieved our goals, because life is a journey. It keeps going and we have to keep up with it in a way that isn’t about material goods giving us and the world around us the illusion that we’re somebody special. We are special just the way we are before or after or during. We don’t need to have what this world tells us we do to be important, we already are worthy of so much more than that. But we need to believe it for it to be the truth. We need to look for authenticity in ourselves, in our lives, and find what we really want our lives to look like to succeed in our own ways.

That question “What do I want my life to look like” I still cannot answer fully, but I am determined to be able to do so by year’s end. That is my goal this year. That is my resolution. I gave up my writing gigs at Babble to open up some time and space to do just that.

What do you really want your life to look like?

Quote in photo from Sara Bareilles “Bottle it Up

 

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

16 Comments

  • mark

    January 6, 2014 |

    awesome post! i certainly hope you are able to figure that out for yourself so that you can start moving forward. i still haven’t got that figured out for me, yet.

  • Mindy

    January 6, 2014 |

    I often wondered how you had time to do it all …. it seemed very stressful to create so much content (says the lady with 4 blogs). I’m glad you’re stepping back and taking more time for yourself. Good luck on your journey! xx

  • Bre & Ree

    January 6, 2014 |

    Thank you Maegan for such a wonderfully written post. It’s comforting to know that there are other people out there who ponder the “what’s the meaning of life” question. I struggle with answering those questions as well, and I definitely can’t answer yet “what do I want my life to look like.” I think it’s so admirable that you are working with your life coach toward finding the answer. You’re definitely motivation to all of us who just haven’t quite figured it out. I have no doubt you’ll have your answer before the year’s end, and I’m sure your journey in finding it will be remarkable!
    ~Bre

  • Bridgette

    January 6, 2014 |

    Good luck on your journey Maegan…we are rooting for ya. It truly is so easy to identify what’s wrong or what we don’t want than it is to see what’s right. When I get into that funk, I always resort back to what my mom tells me– to start with a grateful heart!

  • 2expensivebitches

    January 6, 2014 |

    I have never ever thought about what I want my life to look like and well that depresses me. I find that most days I’m simply “living” and going through the motions of life, for what, I’m not sure. I hope you share more of your journey in the future, it may help others figure their own crap out 🙂

  • Laura @ hollywood housewife

    January 6, 2014 |

    Love these kinds of posts from you. I think about so many of these same things. Now what? is a refrain always ringing in my ears, for better or worse.

  • Pearl

    January 6, 2014 |

    I think this is something that a lot of people would identify with, especially at this time of the year when we’re all expected to make big goals for the new year etc.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to rethink the way I approach my future goals and the way I look at my life. Instead of thinking of what I’d like my life to ‘look’ like I try to focus on how I want to ‘feel’ like. Ultimately I think I want to feel grateful, happy and useful.

    I’ve made a few goals for 2014 based around these ‘feeling’ goals (i.e. Do more activities that used to make me happy, make a weekly gratitude list etc.) so we’ll see what happens I guess -)

    All the best for your journey, I can’t wait to read all about it in 2014 xx

  • Bre & Ree

    January 7, 2014 |

    Thank you for such a wonderfully written post. You give a lot of hope and inspiration to so many of us who are going through the same thing. I definitely haven’t figured out yet what I want my life to look like, and especially in my thirties, I find I’m asking a lot of the same questions. I hope this year you are able to find the answers to your question, but I have no doubt that you’re journey along the way will be fabulous. Thanks for sharing, happy new year!
    ~Bre

  • MA

    January 7, 2014 |

    Good Morning Maegan! Everything you described is just the beginning of finding your end result of peace and harmony. By the time you get into your fifties (as I am), your life starts to take a calmer and more meaningful position. It all takes time, but you are on the right track with a wonderful and positive attitude.

    Stay true to yourself my dear!

    <3

  • Crystal

    January 7, 2014 |

    Beautiful post! I am constantly thinking these types of thoughts as well.

  • xoxodarya

    January 7, 2014 |

    Oh, how I feel your pain. I AM happily married and self-employed; I HAVE nurtured a child to adulthood; I am NOW the primary caregiver to an 85-year-old live-in mother-in-law. And most certainly, now that so many of MY down-in-the-trenches-days of life are not quite so intense it IS leaving room for the what-ifs and the what-abouts and the what-nots and so on. These are very difficult to look square in the eye and answer honestly.

    I think I “wrote” you a while ago endorsing “talk therapy”. That’s where I had landed. And it hasn’t been all that long and already the tide in me is turning. I can feel it. The riptide is starting to stop dragging me under. The current is changing. I am changing. Oftentimes, you just don’t know how bad the undertow was sucking you down and under until you finally get to the whitewater and start to crawl and gasp and swallow a ton of saltwater–tears–to finally feel just how hard you had been working. Working on The Journey. January 9th started The Better Me Project. I don’t want to say what those “betterments” are just yet–I am scared to jinx it. But its safe to say, the “betterments” are my answers to questions very similar to yours.

    Work it, girl. I know am.

    xoxo Darya

    PS – I lifted part of this comment from my own little bloggity blog, because I am at my real “work” and I don’t have time to be awesomely articulate on the fly–I think I did okay the first time ; )

  • Nikki

    January 8, 2014 |

    Thank you so much for this. Not only because it is beautifully written but because this comes at the exact right moment for me, and I’m sure many others.

    I’ve found myself struggling with these same thoughts for months now. And so many times I want to run and retreat like you said, because isn’t that easier? But easier isn’t the name of the game. I’m not looking for easy anymore. I’m looking for me and for a real life I am proud of and peaceful in.

    Your blog is one of a kind in that is speaks to every part of me. My creativity, my experiences and my outlook. I look forward to hearing about your journey and I wish you the very best in finding the answers to the hardest questions we all face. Thank you for sharing your love, your light, both good and confused, with us all.

  • Jac

    January 10, 2014 |

    If you spent a few weeks living among those who are less privileged, less healthy, less beautiful than you, I bet you would start feeling better about your life. It is all a matter of perspective.

  • Aibi

    January 10, 2014 |

    Hi Maegan. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for your insights. I am glad that you are working with a life coach. I also congratulate you on taking your life back. For having the courage to turn down the babble gig and define success on your own terms. Happy new year.

  • Gaby

    January 11, 2014 |

    Thanks for your candid blog. It touched a nerve and came at the perfect time for I’m feeling very similar. It spoke a lot of truths about enjoying the journey and constantly setting goals to continue that journey. The line between “getting busy” to hide from your journey and setting a goal that continues the journey is a blurry one. May you (and all your readers, including myself) find the wisdom to know the difference and the courage to chose the right path.

  • Amanda Rose

    January 24, 2014 |

    Thank you for this read. I read it this morning, on the exact morning I needed to. Life is fuckin’ hard. <3 <3