Are you being lived or are you already alive?
“Get out of the hamster wheel or rat race!” Have you ever heard of that saying before? It’s become fashionable, especially for this generation, to talk about “getting out of the corporate world”. People are telling you, you should become self-employed, and become your own boss.
This may work for some, but it misses the real, more profound question. Which is: “Am I living (proactively) or am I living (passively)?” In the following, I would like to give you a few indicators that you can use to recognise ” being lived”. Then follow some tips on how to leave the rat race.
Indicators for “being lived.”
The description of the phenomenon “to be lived” is at the same time its first indicator: namely the feeling to be driven/pushed through life and to have only minimal room for manoeuvre, similar to a canoeist carried away by a torrent. This feeling is perhaps a bit vague. So here is a more practical example:
When you repeatedly, and above all reflexively, reject requests, there is probably something wrong. Think about the circumstances under which the answer “No time” is legitimate. If you already have another appointment at the requested time. and even if you don’t have an appointment, but accept that the request costs you the time that you need for other tasks.
But let’s be honest: What percentage of your “no time” encounters did one of the two conditions apply? Or is “no time” rather “no desire” or the diffuse fear of completely overburdening one’s already perceived overloaded life?
Both would indicate that one has given far too little thought to what one actually wants to do with one’s time – a fertile breeding ground for being lived.
Constant restlessness and hectic.
- Do you feel permanently restless or hectic/stressed out?
- Do you often say you are stressed?
- Or do you even get the feedback from others that you appear that way?
It is also quite obvious that you are not living your life, but other factors determine it. Even if everyone talks about being stressed and many may even see it as a quality feature of an important or at least hard-working person: Stress is not a badge of honour, but a severe symptom that can be avoided.
Also, it helps to visualise what stress is biologically and what function it fulfils. Stress is triggered by stressors, which are usually threats or perceived as such. The adrenal gland is then stimulated via the thalamus-hypothalamus axis to produce the known stress hormone adrenaline.
Blood pressure and heart rate elevate blood sugar increases. Digestion is suppressed, attention and body tension rises. In other words, the body is in a state of alarm. This may make sense when there is a real danger, but as a permanent condition, is poison.
If you are permanently stressed and therefore restless and hectic, you subconsciously experience life as a permanent threat. This indicates that you have too little control over your life, which can be due to the fact that external factors are constantly interfering with your life.
How do you answer when someone asks you about your (year or life) goals? “People who are “lived” quickly stutter here, or provide vague generalities as an answer. Of course, they have not thought about where they actually want to go! Imagine driving a car like that. Of course, all possible factors would then determine your destination, e.g. the traffic situation, spontaneous ideas or the weather, but not your own objectives.
What can I do to live proactively?
In summary, one can say: Where there are no goals of one’s own, external factors dictate life. There is no “vacuum” in this respect. Therefore, you must first “recapture” your life in the area of vision and goals. Many people who diagnose themselves as “being lived” start immediately with the technical details of time management. But they only come in second place. Decisive is proactivity: become active before you have to become active.
Develop your own life vision
People who are lived are lacking goals, or their goals are simply adopted by society or their parents. In order to be able to grasp the right goals, you first need a life vision, an answer to the question “What do I live for? This does not require a philosophical treatise, but rather practical clarity as to which great goal one actually wants to work for. This goal should really move you and correspond to your own talents. Of course, there can also be several goals. Oh yes, and of course life goals can also change over time, but having none at all is the worst option.
A start towards a life vision can be achieved with my worksheet “Developing your vision”. Coaching can be a real booster for finding your life vision.
Set your own agenda
The next step is to make your vision more tangible. This requires goals. But for them to become reality, you have to write them down. For example in the journal, or even better in your planner and that while the planner is still empty! The transition from one year to the next as well as the seams between the quarters (which often coincide with holidays) are perfectly suitable. The trick is that as soon as you set the goals first, you have priority, true to the motto “First come, first served”. Imagine you have the goal to learn Japanese and block two evenings a week. Now you can say “No time!” with a clear conscience if someone asks you at that particular time.
Time management: from large to small
I’m sure you know the analogy. How do you fill a container as full as possible with stones of different sizes and sand? Sure, first the big ones, then the smaller ones and finally the sand. In terms of time management, this means: First the big goals that are most important, then the secondary ones etc. until you finally arrive at the things that are “nice to have”, but neither important nor urgent. How do you distinguish the types of goals? The so-called “four-quadrant system” has proven its worth for this:
Finally, I’d like to recommend regular reflection. Take your time weekly – I do it Saturday evening – as well as at the end of a quarter and a year and evaluate the past period. External events (“What went well/bad”) should be considered as well as internal events (“How did I feel”). In this way, you learn from mistakes and successes, and you get a much better feeling for what you want and what you don’t want – which in turn is the best antidote to the unknowingness mentioned above.
A successful “proactive life” wishes you