When self-doubt and wishful thinking work against you.
I spent a wonderful day in Leeds yesterday, mostly at a pretty damn trendy co-working space right in the city centre.
I finished a tonne of projects and cleared a whole bunch of things off my to-do list. There was also coffee with a close friend + former colleague, and of course, a very pleasing amount of salted caramel brownie.
Fact. These are non-negotiables for me when I drop back into civilisation and take a day trip to the ss-ss-sity. (Credit to Eddie Izzard for that one).
I walked away from the day buzzing — even stepping off the busiest, most jam-packed commuter train I have ever been on in my life and straight out into the pouring rain of a dark Yorkshire autumn evening.
I felt so alive.
I’d achieved so much in a single day — I can’t even describe. I’d achieved so much more than I’d typically do on a day spent working from home.
Now. Don’t get me wrong.
I love working from home. I get up between 5:00 and 6:00 most days, and two or three times a week I bake fresh sourdough. I take long walks, short walks, dog walks, solo walks, and I also have plenty of cat naps.
I’m my own boss!
It’s up to me whether I work 9 til 5. Or if I work 5am til 9pm, or — fuck it, not at all.
There’s been plenty of those days too.
But yesterday having packed so much into my day compared to most of my days — I knew I needed more days like that. I need to hack it.
So it really got me thinking about why it had been such a successful day.
And why I don’t achieve this much at home.
It’s not daytime TV — that’s not my thing. It’s not even that my days aren’t that unstructured. I work long hours, but I just normally get so much done. Yesterday in an office it was all so… Concentrated.
I love days like this. I don’t have enough of them. Home is a black hole for motivation and productivity… Hmm… Maybe the grass really is greener somewhere, anywhere else?
Here’s the curse.
I spent years of my corporate career planning my “retirement” — code that I now know simply means self-employment — complaining about open-plan offices, meeting rooms, strip lighting, timesheets, telephone switchboards, signing in, and crap coffee.
I craved being able to work from home.
Those were the answers to all my problems.
I made that happen. I got freedom and autonomy.
And now I crave desks, and office chairs, Skype rooms, lunch breaks, fancy filter coffee machines and communal milk, colleagues, and even office chit chat.
I l-o-v-e-d shutting down my laptop yesterday, signing out and walking out of the building.
Even standing on the train with my face practically in a stranger’s armpit, COMMUTING! It all felt magical.
Back when I had to commute, I resented every single minute of it.
So. Here we have a classic grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side type of situation.
I’m never happy, I always want what I don’t have.
And I can’t deny it.
Oftentimes, the grass is greener just anywhere you haven’t been lying down in it straight for days — I know that from my grass mowing days and having to heave the garden furniture around and rescue the sad little lost toys.
But honestly — honestly. Sometimes a change really is just as good as a rest.
I’m going to take that hack — I’m going to remember that switching things up and doing things differently now and again is so damn refreshing.
I wish all office managers really understood that — I wish that it was perfectly acceptable to finish your report in the coffee shop across town, or do your contracted hours in the very early morning so that you could spend the better part of your day doing something — gasp — you actually enjoy.
For a moment I had panicked though.
For a moment, the Type 4 in me was triggered up the wazoo.
I know I have a textbook tendency to focus on all the things that I don’t have any more — a permanent office, fun and friendly colleagues, a fancy co-working location on my doorstep. A dishwasher, for fuck’s sake.
But then I took a deep breath.
I wasn’t disappearing down the rabbit hole of aspiration porn, grass-is-always greener-on-the-other-side, woe is me, wishful thinking.
I nipped the self-pity and self-blame right in the bud and just for a moment allowed myself to enjoy what had been a great day.
A productive day. A freaking fantastic day.
Maybe, just maybe, the grass was pretty damn green underneath my own feet — and for once I’d actually just looked down and noticed it.
And gratitude is your cure for wondering whether the grass might be greener on the other side.
Because it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that notice how green it is right where you are.