The spring semester my senior year at USC I took this speech class.
It was a class taught by an adjunct professor who you could tell had one foot in the door of academia and the other out in the working world.
I'll be honest - I didn't take the class super seriously. It was second semester. It was senior year. All I wanted was a passing grade and I wanted to move on with my life
And yet, one of the assignments at the end of the class is something I can't get out of my mind.
The professor said:
You're going to graduate. You're getting to get a job. And you're probably not going to like the first one you get. Most people don't.
So I'm telling you now, to think about how you want to live your life.
Think about how you want to feel. What time do you want to get up? Where do you want to live? What do you want your days to look like?
I think we all collectively rolled our eyes at this "assignment."
We were ready to finish senior year, get a job and move on to the adult phasing of life. Check, check and check, please!
But I did the assignment anyway. And here's what I wrote:
"I want to wake up at 8 am and get coffee at Coffee Bean. I want to live in Santa Monica and walk to work. I want to work in an office with people. But not too many. I want to feel relaxed, yet energized and I want to be able to take breaks during the day to regroup. I'll end at 5pm and have a chance to walk outside before the sun goes down."
Boom. I had a smile on my face as I envisioned this magical life of living in Santa Monica doing work that felt good.
I turned the assignment in and never thought about it again.
That is until this past year.
I can't STOP thinking about it. This awesome professor knew what she was talking about. She knew to plant a kernel of truth in our minds for the long-term picture of life.
Her focus was to get us thinking about how we want to live our lives in a sustainable way - not just in a way of checking off life's boxes.
And man, I thank her for it now.
Because I did the assignment again this week. I needed a reset.
I wrote at the top of my page for my NEW assignment:
"How do you want your life to look and feel?"
And here's what I came up with:
Vacations to warm places
More quality time with friends - not just texting
Space for creativity
Community with other people - workshops, retreats
Time outside in nature with no agenda
Boundaries with technology
Asking myself, "Does this feel good?" when I make a decision
Playing with my dog more
And yes, more Coffee Bean :)
Ahhhh, it felt so good to even just write this stuff down.
For me, I had to take a pause and decide what I wanted a little more of in my life. Otherwise, another day rolls around, it's 6pm and I realized I haven't done the stuff I like or value.
Your life might not look exactly like your "What I Value and Love College Assignment" list 100% of the time - mine certainly doesn't - but you'll have a compass telling you when you need to reset.
You can add a little walk outside today, sprinkle in a little cozy snuggle with your dog tomorrow or wait until you feel something just feels right - and then add it all in.
And you don't have to do any of it perfectly. I mean, I didn't necessarily get to all the things on my list. I followed the path that was meant for me at the moment - moved to NYC, went to grad school, etc.
But, I'm guessing that somewhere it was embedded in my mind, even if I only started consciously thinking about it over 10 years later.
And as for my updated list? Some days I still rush through the day and think to myself, "I didn't take a break or do anything FUN today."
You can just slowly take things day by day and infuse more of what you value, whatever it is - hip-hop classes, trips to comedy clubs, long lunches with friends where you belly laugh, trips in nature - whatever YOU'RE craving more of.
And you can do it in big and small ways: Schedule a yoga retreat in Mexico or take a walk outside without your phone in the middle of the day.
I wish I could turn my updated assignment into my professor.
She really knew what she was talking about.
Maybe I'll look her up and send her an email? So much of what she said didn't resonate until now.
It's never too late to shift your perspective on how you work, live, relate, have fun, vacation or just feel.
The biggest step might just be asking:
What do you want your life to look like?
How do you want to feel?
From my heart to yours,
Devon McLeod, LCSW
PS You can close your eyes right now and just ask yourself, "What do I want a little more of in my life right now?" See what comes up! You just can't go wrong when you follow your intuition <3