As you’re thinking about the things you’re grateful for this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, reserve some time to quietly think about the things you don’t appreciate about your life. I don’t mean ranting, raving, or complaining about what’s not going your way, but I mean taking an honest look and evaluation of what you want to be grateful for in the future.
Here’s an interesting article that actually changed my life. There are four areas in our lives that are set by default (for most people anyways): career, friends, habits, and home. The people we grow up with are our friends because they’re always there. The city we live in is the best city in the world, and we still live there simply because that’s where we grew up (and the rival city sucks because we didn’t grow up there). We work in whatever field we work in because that’s what people said was good for the money. Our free time is spent in a way our parents or friends insisted. Default settings.
By the time I read this article, I had already been re-evaluating the defaults set for me in life, but reading it helped to crystallize the idea in my mind. Since our 20’s are our defining decade, I wanted to set a good pattern for the future. Even though I have a wide network of friends and connections, I have a very good idea of those with whom I want to surround myself, and I suspect you have a similarly well-defined list for your own network. I’ve traveled quite a bit and heard others’ accounts of places to live and visit, so I know where I want to live; no, I’m not moving back to Edmonton any time soon. When I switched out of the Faculty of Sciences in favour of the Faculty of Engineering, I knew what kind of career I wanted. I know what I want to do in my free time, and I’m doing it.
I’m in the full throes of the daily grind right now. Weekend warrior. You’d think I would hate it, and most people do. Right before graduating from university, people kept telling me I’d hate work and I’d miss school, but I think those people simply forgot what school was like or didn’t have as hard a time as I did when I was there. I love education, but I hated school. It was a blurry mess of choosing which deadlines to miss and which classes you wanted to fail in the least. This was my experience in engineering undergrad, but I was also in a long distance relationship at the time with quite a few extracurriculars. It was hard to relax in school because there was always an assignment and lab report due in the next day or two, and if the work wasn’t confusing, it was tedious. I noticed a lot of people partying every weekend or volunteering for charities, but I simply had to stick to 11 hour days for six days a week just to keep up. Then people wonder why it’s easier to get a job as an engineer.
The question is “if I’m ever unhappy with my career, should I go back to school?” It depends on what you want out of it, and I’m not rushing back into it without a clear end goal. Working is great. You get paid, you have evenings and weekends off, and you can take vacations. People often cite the social aspect of school as being the main reason they miss it, but understand that with all this extra free time, you can join a club, play a sport, learn a new skill or hobby, travel, and meet new people in whatever way you want. School forces you into the same group of people, but work does the same thing. Voluntarily join a social network to create relationships? That’s too hard because it’s not a default choice being made for me.
Being an adult means making decisions and living with the consequences. If you are grateful for family and friends, that’s great. Double down and spend more time with them. If you’re thankful for having a job, be grateful for having bills you can afford to pay. If you’re thankful for a satisfying living situation, make the most of it by accessing the resources available to you like parks, public services, the hip food/music/competitive fighting fish scene. If you have a fun hobby, be it outdoor, indoor, hobby, craft, skill, double down and stop spending so much time with family and friends. If you aren’t grateful for something in one of those areas, maybe it’s time to make a change. Stay in the same city, but hang out with different people. Change jobs, but still make time to see your friends. Move into a new place, and get a Raspberry Pi so we can geek out over it together.
The things we are grateful for can be as much set by default or choices we made, but I bet you’d be happier if you made those choices yourself.
I’m grateful for my wife. We have a life where we can find fulfilling work, which allows us to spend time with good people. Calgary’s okay, but Inglewood makes it better. Carrie is my sugar mama that buys me all the toys I like to play with in my free time. Thanks, God, for this awesome life. Happy Thanksgiving.
Here’s a bonus video on why you should get started changing your life defaults sooner than later.