Nearly every day, I open up Medium and look at the top stories of the day. And, nearly every day, at least one, often two, and sometimes all five, are essays focused on how to be more productive or a story about how to change your life, usually through leaving your current place of employment.
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the following as the top five one day:
Quit Your Job, Give Away Your Money, and Spend a Year in a Garbage Can
66 Things To Do Before 6 a.m.
Why Getting Fired and Banned From the Building Saved My Life
Every Entrepreneur Should Tattoo These 17 Things On Their Forehead
9 Reasons Losing $15 Billion Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me
I’m not saying I don’t believe these writers, because virtually all of them are more successful than I’ll ever be. And I’m not claiming pieces such as these aren’t helpful. Most of them are and, more importantly, they resonate. They are inspiring to scores of people. I often click on at least one of them.
I’m just not sure how relevant they are to those of us with certain schedules or obligations or dispositions that don’t allow for such things.
I’m not going to quit my job.
If I get fired or laid off — always a possibility — and that leads me to find a new path in life, I will embrace it to the fullest. But I’m not going to just quit. Call me a sucker or a coward or an automaton. I don’t care. I’m not quitting.
I have a mortgage and a family (not blaming anyone — my choice, my responsibility) and not nearly enough saved, so I think it’d be irresponsible of me to quit a career I studied in school and have built for a nearly fifteen years in order to follow my childhood dream of being a SportsCenter anchor that also has a thriving hip-hop career and sells runaway bestsellers on the side.
Yes, I’ve read stories about people with families and high-powered careers that completely started over and became not only happier, but also more wealthy and successful, yet I wonder if those stories are so popular because they’re so rare and/or because they represent the dream many have of walking away from a dreary job. And while I can think of a few things I’d rather do for a career, I’m happy with my current situation and the opportunities it affords me. I wish I had started writing sooner, but, all things considered, it could be far worse.
I’m not scared. I don’t fear change. And I’m willing to sacrifice. I’ve worked manual labor and I’ve sold my personal library and my card collection. I’ll do what I have to do. But in regards to quitting my job, I’m not that kind of guy. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a natural salesman — maybe that’s why my books don’t sell.
As far as a routine, I’d love to get to the office two hours early to get a jump on the day or write ten pages of my next novel before 7 a.m. or enjoy my morning cup of coffee while sitting quietly on the deck, watching the sun emerge and thinking about how I want my day — and my life — to unfold.
But that’s just not realistic. For me — and, I imagine, for many — life is both much more boring and much more chaotic than that.
Here’s my boring-ass weekday morning routine (strap in for a wild ride!):
- My kid often wakes me up, either by climbing on me or yelling to me from the doorway, at least a half-hour before I need to get up.
- Then, while my wife gets ready for work in the upstairs bathroom — she has to be at work much earlier than I do, so I handle mornings and she handles afternoons — I’ll accompany the kid downstairs.
- I walk quickly to the downstairs bathroom and pee sitting down because (a) I’m fat and lazy and (b) her monologue doesn’t stop, so this way I can still conceal parts of myself as she looks at me through the crack in the doorway and unloads whatever is on her mind.
- I then heat up a cup of milk for her and put a gummy princess vitamin on top of the lid (very important), both of which she enjoys while watching Disney Junior or Sprout.
- I head back into the kitchen to make coffee for myself and a travel mug for my wife (she swears I make it better than she does, but I think that’s just a ploy to get me to do it).
- If she’s running late, I’ll cut and toast an English muffin for her; if not, she fixes herself a bowl of cereal when she comes down.
- Depending on the time, I may sit with my daughter and watch “Sofia the First” or “Super Why!” for a few minutes.
- She hugs and kisses both of us goodbye. Then, the kid and I run to the windows that face the driveway where she stands on the sill and waves goodbye as my wife backs out.
- After that, we go back upstairs, quibble over what outfit she’ll wear — “Daddy, princesses wear beautiful dwesses”; “I know, baby, we’re just going to put this long sleeve shirt under it”; “But Rapunzel doesn’t wear a long sweeve shirt under her dwess!”— and then I get kicked out of the room so she can change in her “dressing room” in privacy.
- If she didn’t brush her teeth before waking me up, we do that and, at the sight of the toilet, she suddenly announces she has to pee at that moment and can’t wait another second longer. Depending on her mood, I may once again be kicked out in the name of privacy or I may be asked to tell her a story while she does her business.
- We then head back downstairs and wait for her grandmother — my mother-in-law — to arrive. We alternate where the child-watching takes place so, depending on the week, she will either come bearing two other children — my sister-in-law’s daughters — and all three will be at my house or she’ll come alone and, after ten or so minutes of chit-chat, we’ll all head out to her Jeep, where I strap my kid in the car seat, tell her to be good, wish her a great day, and kiss her on the forehead and both cheeks before they head over to my sister-in-law’s.
By this point, it’s around 8 a.m. and this is when I finally begin getting ready for my own day, from the shower to getting dressed to getting out the door to fighting traffic to getting into the office.
That’s a normal day. I’m actually impressed you made it this far because no one is generating clicks or getting a book published with that rundown. I’m not complaining because I get to spend time with my daughter every morning, something I couldn’t do when I commuted two hours each way, but it also doesn’t allow me to write a list of the 50 things I want to accomplish in the next month or meditate quietly with no distractions for an hour. So I’ve been forced to learn how to maximize my time in other ways using other methods.
That’s just my day. Maybe yours is similar. Maybe you have two, three or four kids you need to get out the door. Maybe you don’t have children, but you have two jobs or volunteer or work during the day and go to school at night, as I did for several years. Maybe you have a sick parent or grandparent or a sibling with special needs or a spouse that needs help or some other extenuating circumstance that doesn’t fit neatly into a list of bullet points.
I’m not judging. I’m in complete support of resetting your life or implementing a daily ritual. It can be career-making and life-changing, but many of us don’t have the time, energy or, quite frankly, the inclination to do such things.
Most of us are just trying to balance it all.
This originally appeared on Medium