MAKING THE LIFE THAT FITS YOU
This is the second installment of Living the Dream, a series by WNW Member #5670 Steven Skoczen on his experiences this year traveling - and working - all over the world. This week, we learn about the 'Steven Manual' and how the lack of structure can make us even more productive.
Read the first installment to learn how Steven sold everything he owned, left his life in Portland, and set out on the ultimate adventure.
One of the most striking things about my life here in Thailand is what it doesn’t have. No solicitors. No junk mail. No regular mail. No advertising (I can’t understand the stuff I do hear.) No social obligations. No set time I really have to be anywhere. No expectations of who I am, or what I do. No habits.
And in this space, I’m thriving like I’ve never thrived.
I write every day. I eat salad for breakfast. I work until I’ve accomplished a significant chunk of work, then I stop. I make projects and art. I exercise every day. I meditate. I give myself a break when I need one.
The result has been that I’m more productive at work than I was in Portland, on fewer hours. As a result, I now have the time and energy to pursue the creative projects that recharge me and keep me lit up. And time to explore a new country and learn a language.
In Portland, I wrote The Steven Manual - software that tracks every bit of my life, and keeps an eye on if I’ve exercised lately, if I’m getting out of the house and seeing friends, all of those kind of things. I love the manual. It’s been a daily habit for more than two years, and it has single-handedly steered me out of depression, gotten me into nature when I really needed it, and generally been psychic, robotic best friend.
But here, even after a few conscious attempts, I just don’t use it. Here, it’s like I have a hand on all the knobs - seeing people, number of work hours, time with friends, number of new experiences - and when something feels out of balance, I’m just giving myself permission to just do whatever it is that needs done.
In a beautiful and powerful way, it’s working. I haven’t been as centered, fulfilled, as genuinely good as I feel here in a long time - and without propping myself up on love or someone else - maybe ever.
There’s an unacknowledged weight, an inescapable mold that presses on our regular lives. The space of our days defined by house, car, bills, life, friends. These mark every one of our minutes, cordoning off the truly free space in which we can move.
But sell everything, move to a new country, culture, and time zone, and suddenly everything is opened up. The facts remain unchanged: I’m awake for sixteen hours every day. But only here, with everything stripped away, do they actually feel that plentiful.
Every one of us is different. Each of us has our own equilibriums and knobs, and our balances are sure to change with the seasons and the weather and all the passing tempests of our lives.
But there’s something to unhooking. Something powerful in that quiet, persistent voice: let’s not go to that show. Let’s not clean out the car. A pause. A space made. Waiting in it:
Let’s do what makes us come alive.