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Re-Defining the Grind

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My life in Bali, so far, has been all about change. Changing my perspectives, changing my habits, and changing how I judge my days. 

To give you an idea - in just a few short weeks after arriving on the island last year, I had an entirely new morning routine. I woke up when my body was ready (not to an alarm clock), I took time for myself to mediate, I wrote in a gratitude journal, and I actually sat down to have coffee and breakfast with my husband (a rare occurrence when we were still living and working in the US).

Bali Mornings Coffee Uluwatu

Without racing against the clock, I would then hop on my motorbike to a local coffee shop to check emails and get some work done.

Bali motorbike August Effects

Then it was time to check out some local markets to meet suppliers or search for materials.

Bali markets shopping materials august effects

If inclined, I‘d take an afternoon yoga class, walk along the beach or rice fields, go to the farmer’s market and more than occasionally get a massage (they are $7/hour in Bali!).

Farmers Markets Bali August Effects

It goes without saying that my days were nothing short of glorious! So even though I was LOVING this new lifestyle, why did I feel so guilty about it?

Before moving to Bali, I routinely woke up at 7:00 am, took the dog for a walk, drove to the office, worked all day, went to the gym, made dinner, went to sleep, rinse, lather, repeat... for 6 years. 

Growing up in the US, I was instilled with the idea that in order to be successful, you had to work, work, work. There was no time for breaks and especially none for self-care. I thought that every second of the day should be utilized towards a never-ending quest to “succeed”. I used to judge a “good” day by how productive I was, how much I checked off my “to-do list” at work, how many errands I was able to run, how many calories I burned at the gym, and so on.

I remember calling my sister early during my first week in Bali and telling her how guilty I felt for not working 8 hours a day. She offered incredible insight as she told me that I had the opportunity to re-define what “work” meant to me. It no longer had to mean being in an office or in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. Instead, work could be going to markets, meeting people, learning about local non-profits, taking photos, and exploring a new land. 

Bali Photography August Effects

I took this to heart and began reflecting on the ways I determined a “productive” or “good day”. What if I changed my mindset and judged a “good day” not by how how much I got done, but instead by how many times I laughed, how I made others feel, or how truly present I was. What if I defined productivity by how much I was embracing the “now"?

Bali Happy Smiles August Effects

I took this challenge on, and began to redefine “success” and “productivity.” As my mindset changed, so did the way in which I went about my days. I began to see work in a different light. I realized that I no longer had to spend 8-10 hours/day on my computer. I allowed myself to go to workshops, events, and meetings with like-minded entrepreneurs in Bali. 

I used to think that I needed to check my email the moment I woke up, make my coffee, and head out the door to grind. In actuality, though, taking time in the morning to get centered lead me to approach each day in a whole new way. I was more fulfilled, more present, and perhaps most importantly, I felt more clarity and ease in going about my daily business. 

August Effects

I still remind myself to approach each day with the new found clarity that Bali allowed me to see. We only live once, so why spend our entire lives doing things that don’t fulfill us? We have the opportunity to be the narrators of our own lives, creating every page of our own stories. We can define what work means to us and how we want to spend our precious time and energy. 

What if we stopped trying to break our backs to be the most productive and successful as it’s defined by our contemporary Western society? What if instead we focused more on being present, practicing self-care, and creating our own destiny?

I dare you to try it. ;)

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