Happy New Year and welcome back!
Today, I’m taking a time out from the usual ‘plastic is bad’ and ‘use your mason jars’ conversation. I’m about to get real about the biggest waste too many of us make. I want to talk about wasting our time. Living without passion and not being in line with our values. Time is not an infinite resource that we can just recharge; it’s something that we’ll only get a certain amount of. Why some of us decide to live our lives unhappy is unnecessary and frankly heart breaking. There is always ways to improve your life, no matter how down you are or the situation you’re in.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about self-improvement and personal growth. Wasting time and wasting your ambition on something that will not benefit you in the end. It’s something I’m sure we’ve all experienced in one form or another. Wasting time on a relationship that you know isn’t going anywhere, or perhaps, waiting on someone to help you go to the gym when you know you could be going alone. Not wasting time is something I focus a lot of my energy on now. I’ve decided not to spend any effort on anything that either does not bring me joy, teaches me or will benefit me in the end.
For the first time in my life, I decided to switch up career roles, not because I was fired or anything on the negative spectrum, but because I needed to align myself with my values. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many jobs, but only one that I would have basically stayed at forever had I been obliged to. For the longest time I’ve worked in industrial printing. It was physical, it was dirty, it was a male dominated shop and for a long time, I loved it! There was something so special about coming home from work, covered in ink knowing that I earned my money that day through hard work. We would print food packaging by the millions. Pallet after pallet would leave the shop after my hands had touched them; either literally or by involvement with the production line. Millions and millions of packages were sent into the world in part because of me. Now hold on a sec, before we all start picketing Live Waste Free, I know what you’re thinking ‘…but Dawn, you live close to no waste, how could you choose to make a career out of polluting the planet with stuff that’s LITERALLY intended to be thrown away AND STILL try to encourage others to go Zero Waste?’ Well friends, sometimes people make decisions that hold for a long time and sometimes life advances at a rate that you’re not even aware of. I was hired for 2 weeks, 6 years ago and before I knew it, I was in a unionized job that kept me physically active and had amazing pay and benefits. I was comfortable.
Comfort is a tricky thing, it can make you feel safe and adjusted all the while you’re not fully content. My choice had been made a long time ago by a Dawn that no longer exists. With time I grew, I became an adult and learned new interests and had different experiences. The fact that I was not 100% happy with the job at this point in my life had me feeling stuck. There was never a right time to leave. There was never a right time to give up my benefits my comfort zone.
When I started my Zero-Waste journey in 2015, I was forced to make a decision. Keep going while preaching my Waste Free values and turn a blind eye to the mass waste I was in association encouraging the world to buy. I had some time off of work to think, have new adventures and make better decisions that are in line with me and what I now believe. I decided that I would start looking elsewhere from the company that had shaped me into the hard working individual that I am. I was done with not being happy with work. We spent so much of our time working that it’s silly to not be happy there. I needed a new challenge, not necessarily one that would be all about Zero-Waste, but at least one that would not make me feel guilty about this choice. After trying a few different jobs over the course of a year; and in 2 different provinces, I still wasn’t happy. They weren’t enough of a challenge for me, and in some way, I was still producing waste. Not by the tons like at my old shop, but still more than I was comfortable with.
I started to feel almost defeated; I couldn’t find anything that I could see myself at. I wanted to enjoy my new challenge and grow with it, not just go in, work aimlessly and not make a difference in anything, then go home and be blah. One afternoon, while looking for content for LWF, I stumbled across an ad that one of my old classmates posted for his work. It was working with a pre-kindergarten in the office, helping with paperwork and registrations mainly. Yes, I do have a degree in recreation and at one point in time, I dreamed of working with pre-schoolers, seeing their eyes brighten up as you explain something exciting. Playing with the kids and being silly all day; molding minds and helping shape these little people into the future citizens of the world. However, with time, I’ve grown impatient. I decided to give it a go and apply for the position regardless. You never know right?
I am now currently 6 months into the position and have really claimed it as my own. I LOVE my new job and the challenges that it provides. I go home and feel happy that I’ve helped participate in a child’s education. Certainly not as much as their educators of course, but I’ll still take it. I know that the work I do is worthwhile and I feel so much joy by the passing 3-5 year olds as they all smile and wave and even yell out ‘HI MISS DAWN!’ as they pass my office. The relationships I’ve made with my co-workers and the families of the Pre-K are just awesome. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I’m well appreciated in this position either, whereas in the shop, I was just another number.
This position is not 100% Zero Waste, but there is definitely more room to adjust it around saving waste in the office. I am so much happier being here compared to being at the shop and that’s what’s really immeasurable. I’m at a job where I can see myself for a while and I can really alter it the way I need to create even more happiness and personal growth. In a much more real sense, I do believe that I am no longer just wasting my time at a lifeless position. I am now much more in line with something I am passionate about.
So if you’re unhappy in a workplace, in a relationship or with anything really, I’d advise you to take a strong look your priorities. Discover new things about yourself. Find what you’re really passionate about and go after it. As Neale Donald Walsch so eloquently put it “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. Align yourself with your values and you’ll never regret the decision.
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