Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Finding Fulfilment With A 9 To 5

Wake up. Get Dressed. Commute. Work. Have dinner. Work out, see friends or watch Netflix. Sleep.

When you have a 9 to 5, it’s easy to feel your life lacks fulfilment. Every day is almost identical to the one before and there is no clear next step on where to go next. 

Sure there’s some progression, but there’s no revolutionary change to give you that oomph of excitement. 

And that’s unsettling. Especially when your pre-working life was filled with revolutionary changes: school trips, school dances, first loves, new and bigger challenges in the next grade, graduation ceremonies, choosing a new school, making new friends, moving out, studying abroad, and finding your first real job. 

And underlying all this is a profound feeling of getting closer to a better and brighter future. 

It’s magical. 

But when you finally complete the early game and settle down into adult life, the sense of advancement largely stops. The exciting adventures and big breakthroughs are no longer a given.

You have to make them happen yourself, within the few waking hours you don’t spend on work, caring for others, shopping and housework. About four to five hours per day. Less if you’re a parent or caretaker of a loved one.

That’s not much.

So how do you bring some of that excitement from the early game back into the adult midgame?

  • Act in accordance with your values. If you care about your health and being social, join a yoga or Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. If you care about being a good friend, create a new (bi-)weekly tradition like movie night or playing ping pong in the park. That way you slowly become the person you want to be. 
  • Always ask yourself, “How can I have more fun?”  Take a different route to work. Choose a different mode of transport. Buy a few boxes of fresh strawberries for everyone to enjoy at the office. Take a stroll through the park during lunch. Have a post-work wine while you phone a friend. 
  • Spread out your sources of happiness. Unless you think you have a shot at making it big, don’t invest all your free time in one endeavour. So many of us lose ourselves in work, thinking it’ll make us rich and respected. But even if it works out, you’re likely sacrificing your social, emotional and physical wellbeing. 
  • Find friends with similar values who you can look up to. Being around people who are (closer to) where you want to be can make it easier to reach your destination.
  • Keep adjusting your focus. On the micro level, it’s impossible to lead a balanced life. You don’t have enough free time in a day to develop your mind, work out, see friends and reflect on your life. You’ll always neglect something. That’s why you want to give most of your attention to one or two areas for a few months and then shift your focus back to what you’ve been neglecting.
By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach