I got a very sweet email the other day from a reader asking about my schedule and how I cram the things in that I do.  The short answer is: My life doesn’t have a lot of balance right now.  I hope I don’t give off a sense that everything’s smooth sailing around here.  It’s actually a happy mess.  My commitments are sort of crazy because my obligations (my “real” job, paying student loans, bills and so forth) and pleasurable pursuits (family, health, fitness, coaching and blogging) take up a lot of time.

If I neglect my obligations, the government comes knocking.  If I neglect my pleasurable pursuits, life loses a lot of its glow. Here’s the first part in a series of posts about Finding Balance.  Part 1 deals with how I ended up with those unsatisfying obligations.

I’ve been an attorney for 6 years.  I knew after my first semester in law school that I didn’t enjoy the program (or, to be perfectly honest, my future colleagues).  I’ve always loved philosophy and ideas and I thought that I’d enjoy studying law, but I had a hard time doing nothing but studying.

Here’s a picture of me “studying” for the bar exam.  It may look like I’m sleeping but, I assure you, I was just resting my eyes.

With a double major in History and English, I wasn’t really sure what other things I could do.  The real trouble wasn’t just my education but also not really knowing what I wanted to do for work and not having the first clue how to figure it out.

We learn all sorts of things in school, but we don’t learn how to live a life that is fulfilling and purposeful.  I think psychologists would call it “self-actualization.” Abraham Maslow’s article A Theory of Human Motivation used the term self-actualization to describe a desire to realize one’s capabilities.

Self-actualization, or what I call “figuring shit out”, doesn’t happen until “lower order needs” are met. These needs are things like food, water, comfort, security, employment and the like.  So by the time you’re ready to figure shit out, you could already be on the path to doing something that’s completely irrelevant to your real ambitions and personality. If you’re like me and you borrowed money to be on the wrong path, you feel trapped into continuing on that path.

I’m not really sure if I would have been able to figure out what satisfies me without experiencing a deeply unsatisfying career.  I don’t know if I would have learned to trust my gut unless I made wrong decisions.  With experience, I can look back and see warnings I ignored.  I can recognize that apathy and depression were indicators that I’d chosen the wrong pursuits.

So I’ve discussed how I wound up doing things I don’t really want to do.  Part II will be up soon in which I discuss how I found what I did want to do.

Where are you at? Are you on an unsatisfying path? A satisfying one? How did you wind up where you are?

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