Recently, I realized that my sabbatical, where I’m supposed to be recharging and reinventing myself, was stressing me out. I republished a novel and spent eighteen months mastering the ins and outs of indie publishing and marketing (which should qualify me for a PhD at this point….)

A second and third book in the series are currently underway. I’m also developing an idea for a big event, trying to adapt to a new environment and culture in New Mexico, and figuring out next steps in life. I attempted to publish regularly on my blog, Substack, and on Medium, as well as consistently post on social media. Oh, and distribute newsletters on LinkedIn.

And, of course, as a writer, you need to read books, find and connect with like-minded authors, and constantly market yourself and develop your own brand. And have an active social life.

I was so overwhelmed that I was dizzy. I realized I can’t do everything at once, so I had to decide: what comes first, my sanity and health or making a name for myself?

These will evolve as I evolve, but, as of now, I put together some guidelines to help nudge me toward a new life chapter. They include:

Photo by Maria Marganingsih from Getty Images for Canva Pro

I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone

As a former people pleaser, this truth is tough to grasp, but it’s true. None of us has anything to prove. We’re good enough as we are, no matter where we are in life. I don’t care if you’re living in your car, unemployed, alone in the world – you are enough.

When I realize I’m comparing myself to others, or think I’m not good enough, or notice I’m feeling jealous of someone else’s success or good fortune, I take a step back and look inside at what’s really going on.

What I tend to notice is that I’m feeling insecure and inadequate, so I remind myself that I don’t need validation from anyone else. I’m good enough as I am. I’m aware that my reactions to outside events are a mirror of what’s going on inside.

Everything happening on the outside is simply a reflection of our internal world.

None of us are perfect

That goes for myself and others, so I’m focused on giving everyone, including myself, some slack. If someone says or does something that hurts my feelings, I look at their motivation––and why I felt offended. If they’re acting based on an insecurity, or if I’m reacting based on a certain fear, I do my best to let it go.

I’m not a doormat, though. When someone does something hurtful, I can choose how to handle the situation. We’re each on our own journey, and my responsibility is to steer my ship, not anyone else’s. I rarely argue or talk back anymore. Though I might give my point of view, I never try to change the person – I let them do their thing and remove myself if I need to.

It’s not my job to fix or control other people.

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I am my best friend

That might sound egotistical, but in the end, all we’ve got are ourselves. I can lose my job, career, house, car, friends, partner, pet, country, everything – yet I still have me. And if I don’t like myself, there’s a massive problem.

Learning to love ourselves as we are, flaws and all, opens us up to loving others unconditionally. That’s a spiritual practice worth pursuing.

Life is short; don’t waste it

A benefit of being in my early sixties (I still can’t get used to saying that!), but one of the great joys is beginning to understand what’s important in life. Kindness, generosity, love – to myself and others – is what matters.

Money, fame, power – it doesn’t bring happiness. Don’t get me wrong – I want to be loved, respected, and wealthy, even at my age – but I’m doing my best not to let it rule my life anymore. It’ll come when it comes. The key is to have fun along the way and spread kindness whenever possible.

By putting myself in an unknown environment – a new culture where I didn’t know anyone and with no job to hold onto – I’ve had time to learn about myself. The journey’s been a struggle at times, and I still have ups and downs, but growth comes in spurts, and pain is part of the process.

Life is precious – we need to laugh more and find ways to be kind to ourselves and others.

I wish this wasn’t true, and things might change this year, but I’m not connecting with where I live, so I might move to a new community. I see no point in forcing myself into a place where I don’t belong. It’s not a judgment against anyone or anything, but why try to fit a round peg into a square hole?

Enjoy the now; it’s all we have. 

Photo by Maryna Patzen from Getty Images for Canva Pro

We will all die

That might sound morbid, but think about it. We are ALL going to die.

Jeff Bezos is going to die. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Taylor Swift, sad to say even Bruce Springsteen – they will pass away someday. The pact we make when we’re born is that we will die. Done. Over.

And you don’t take anything with you – except the energy you’ve created for yourself through your actions. All the material things – the money, power, fame, jobs – they mean nothing because you’re six feet under.

I know, it’s hard! I want recognition, wealth, abundance, a nice home, and material things. There’s nothing wrong with that – but achieving financial gain at the expense of others, or yourself, isn’t worth it.

In the end

Nowadays, when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, I go for a walk. I don’t try to push through and work harder or dissect and try to figure out what “the” answer is.

I’m in Sedona as I write this. The sun is out, it’s a gorgeous, sunny, winter day in the desert, and I’m heading out for a hike.

Forcing is not an act of creativity. Receiving is. 

And I’m open to all the universe has to give.

sedona mountains and deep blue sky in background with sign saying To Summit for a peaceful walk

©Diane Hatz 2024

Diane Hatz is a writer, organizer, and inner activist. Her award-winning book “Rock Gods & Messy Monsters” is available at all online retailers. Sign up for her email newsletter for insights into our ever-evolving life journey by exploring purpose, meaning, and the search for our authentic self.