Yesterday was a rough day. Not because I was uncomfortable, or emotional, or upset, or because anything went wrong. But yesterday was a rough day because I was just … lethargic. I spent almost the whole day on the couch, zoned out, doing nothing, while my desire for productivity battled against my tendency toward procrastination. The more the hours passed, the harder it became for me to even think about peeling myself off the sofa to get anything done. (And my to-do list is pretty short these days!) I felt tired and absent, and not because my body needed rest — because it needed to move.

Fortunately I was able to save myself eventually — I swapped my glasses for contacts, splashed some water on my face to wake myself up, and tackled a few nagging tasks. By the end of the day I was feeling much better and was able to go to bed feeling like I had finally gotten some things done, despite my initial sluggishness. Whew.

How I wanted to spend my day:

How I actually spent most of the day:

Sigh.

Anyway, my procrastination and mental absence yesterday got me thinking about work in general. Since I started my new “job” a few weeks ago, I’ve been intentional about making a list of things to accomplish each day so that I continue giving my days a sense of purpose. I know it is not a lot of women’s cup of tea, but I really do enjoy homemaking and to me, it’s meaningful work. I really like feeling like I am making my home a priority and I am much happier when I am caught up on things around the house. (Ask me how this is going six weeks from now. I bet I’ll stare at you blankly, but this fact will remain true; I am much happier when I am caught up on things around the house.)

Finding meaningful work isn’t something that’s always come naturally to me, though; I have made career decisions based more on finances* or on “what makes sense” in the past. The concept of doing something that a) I was good at, b) I enjoyed, c) challenged me and d) was meaningful to me was seriously something that did not occur to me until just a few years ago. I am not really sure why; I was an adrift 20-something, career-wise, and I think I thought I had to make Responsible Decisions while disregarding my natural inclinations and gifts. This led to one job in particular that was a really, really bad fit — and I knew it from the start! I just didn’t know how to listen to myself and take that gut instinct seriously. It wasn’t until I was desperately unhappy every day that the relationship between happiness and meaningful work started to make sense to me, so I guess you can say I’ve been working on a happiness project since I made the long-overdue and very, very necessary decision to leave that job.

Work in general kind of gets a bad rap, from what I can see. I know I spent a while in those aforementioned adrift twenties resenting the fact that I couldn’t just bum around all day doing whatever I felt like and that instead I had to do lame things like get stuff done, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it — like doing the dishes! running errands! so unfair! — but I’ve come to see that work in general, whether it’s career or in the home, can be a great source of happiness. I didn’t always feel that way when I was having to, say, file client paperwork, and I don’t always feel that way now when somehow the sink fills with dirty dishes of its own accord again, but having a sense of purpose is so important, and I think work can help provide that. I know I am much happier in a big-picture sense when I end the day with a few accomplishments behind me instead of a Project Runway marathon — maybe it’s like getting in a daily workout. Not always fun in the moment, but [almost] always worth it in the long run.

So needless to say, I woke up this morning ready for action — and am now enjoying what I feel to be a well-earned rest. (Who knows? It could be my last for the next 18 years …)

*Not always a poor choice! Finances matter, particularly when you’re 26 and single and have no savings because you’ve spent your whole career being a grossly underpaid social worker.

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