There haven’t been too many exciting, new updates over the past couple years. And that’s partially by design—especially when it comes to playing the real game.
The real game is primarily doing the same things, day after day.
It’s not that there’s nothing going on. My life is full, although I’m certainly not living the exciting lifestyle I had envisioned it might be at this point.
Part of it was due to our dog, Rocky, entering into our lives. When we got the little guy, we knew we’d be saying goodbye to a more nomadic lifestyle. At the time, we were willing to make that tradeoff because I was working full-time anyway, and we felt Rocky would add to the joy in our lives (he did, and still does).
Fast forward two years. I’ve been working full-time on our business along with my husband for more than a year now. Instead of living the digital nomad life in Thailand or Italy for several months, I’m working periodic late nights, trying to manage several big projects at one time, while trying to maintain relationships, health and fitness.
We’re still figuring a lot of stuff out—how to best work together, how to balance finances, how to not drive each other crazy. All of it among many other things. Our lives are still in the build phase, and it’s going to take some more time and work to get up to the next, significant level.
It’s a lot of work I’m not up for in the work hard, play hard model shared so prolifically in our culture.
Let me explain.
I’m not up for working in a unsustainable way that sacrifices the present moment to a large extent. And what I mean by sacrificing the present moment is not having enough time and space to just be and take care of your well-being.
Since starting on our more non-traditional path in 2014, I’ve realized the real game is played over the long term.
The most important thing is whether you’re still able to keep building your business day after day, year after year. Long-term sustainability doesn’t come from focusing solely on growth, profit, and the next project. It also doesn’t come from traveling all the time, partying until you drop and trying to do it all.
If you do that, you’ll burn out at some point. You’ll get tired of it all when you haven’t seen your friends in months. When you’ve run yourself ragged or when your bank account draws low. Or when a big project doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. When you haven’t taken a day off to do absolutely nothing for a very long time.
There’s still a part of me that wants to live in another country for a more extended period of time. I’ve had a couple of experiences where I’ve gotten close to that—back in 2008 when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were in Madrid, Spain for about six weeks and in 2014 when I stayed in Prague by myself for three weeks. Not too many experiences, but amazing memories that I fondly look back upon.
While I’d like more travel experiences, I understand that comes with greater volatility.
It’s a lot of work even to switch living environments in the same country, as we found out when we spent several winter months in Arizona this past winter and the year before. It takes time to pack up, to readjust to a new routine, and to get situated back into a community.
Not only that, you don’t get as much work done when you’re traveling. Between spotty Wifi, travel delays, and the preparation involved—there are many variables that can take away from the routines that keep you grounded.
The irony is, it’s important to keep aspects of your lifestyle interesting.
To challenge your assumptions, try new things, and experience new places. Because when you get too comfortable is when you start to get stagnant. Stagnancy over time leads to boredom, depression, resentment or worse. It’s a state that wears on your health, well-being, and enthusiasm for life.
So there’s got to be a balance in the form of game-changers.
Game-changers don’t need to be life-changing. It could be learning a new skill or attending an event. On the more substantial side, it could be switching careers, downsizing or moving to a new place.
We’re still figuring out the real game for ourselves, and in the process of a couple game-changers. Starting a couple months ago, we’re going through another major decluttering and minimizing process. By June of this year, we’re leaving Minneapolis where we’ve spent the past decade, selling our house and packing up our lives to move west.
I suspect that the rest of this year will be spent re-adjusting our lives, business and social life. It will come with some disruption and discomfort. It will also challenge us to step up our business model and growth. Ultimately though, the most important thing is sustainability: our ability to keep on going in the real game—day after day and year after year.