#91 This is why I’m done focusing solely on the future

Hey Travel Family,

This week we’ve been preparing for our trip to New Zealand. We’re jumping in an RV with our best friend, Laker, and doing an epic road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown with plenty of ski and snowboard stops along the way. It’s the kind of trip you look back on for years to come. We started planning it so long ago it felt really far away and now, suddenly, it’s here. After months of anticipation, planning, group chat texts and excitement we’re packing our bags, charging our camera batteries, saying goodbye to the cats and getting ready to drive to the airport.

It’s moments like these I become aware of just how good the lead-up is. We started talking about doing a New Zealand trip at the start of the year and haven’t stopped since. There’s been so much juicy anticipation and excitement leading up to it, every time I think about the trip, I smile. For all the months of build-up, we’ll really only be gone for about 10 days. That’s it, months of anticipation for 10 days of pure joy and lifelong memories.

Before I started Little Grey Box, a very good friend told me about a food blogger friend of hers and how she was often invited to dine at restaurants in exchange for a review. That information blew my mind! I love food and am highly motivated by it so the idea of getting a free meal in exchange for writing, something I love doing anyway, seemed like a dream come true. Starting Little Grey Box, that idea stayed with me and I thought it’d all be worth it if I could just get a free dinner once in a while. Once that happened, I’d have made it and life would be perfect!

When those offers started coming in, I was on cloud 9! But I quickly realised, it was a lot of work just for a $30 plate of food. Then, when we started moving toward travel and were invited on our first ever press trip to Singapore, my mind was well and truly blown. This was it, we were finally going to make it! I still remember Matt and I jumping around our living room with excitement. It felt, for the first time, like this thing could really be a career and something we did with our lives. Since then, things have grown a lot and so have our goals, but we still get that same rush of excitement every time we get a great job offer.

As Little Grey Box grows, so do our aspirations. Our biggest goal used to be a free dinner but now we have goals around revenue, increasing our audience and continuing to find ways to do this thing we love so much. I guess that’s fair, given it’s not just a hobby anymore but our livelihood and the externalisation of our hopes and dreams. But still, I can’t help but be keenly aware of how easy it can be to lose sight of the anticipation and always be focused on the moment happiness will be achieved, instead of all the amazing things right in front of us.

There can be such a big focus on the future, on thinking about how life will be so much better when… when I reach that magic subscriber number, when I’m earning more money, when I have that dream job, when I lose weight and so on. It’s this constant state of anticipation and when we do finally achieve those things we thought would make us happy, we enjoy it for a very brief moment then move the goal posts again, figuring we’ll truly be happy when… (insert new goal here).

This is something I’ve been doing for a very long time. I look at my body in the mirror and think how much more I’d love myself if my tummy was flatter or my thighs were smaller. I think about Little Grey Box and think about how I’d really feel like I’ve ‘made it’ if we had 1 million YouTube subscribers and so much income we could buy the house we live in, drive better cars and never have to worry about money again. I look at my wardrobe, hating all the clothes in there, thinking how much better my life would be if I had new clothes. I do this in different ways in various aspects of my life, dreaming of all the ways I’ll be happy when something else happens.

I waste so much time being unhappy with the things that are right in front of me that, in all honesty, I would never be appreciative of or satisfied with all the things I wish I had, even if I did get them.

If I actually take the time to cut the crap and really take stock of my life, I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of right now. I have a closet full of clothes, my body is healthy and strong, I have a husband who loves me, a fridge full of food, a beautiful house to live in, a great car and the support of my family. I also have a job I love so very much, one that is so amazing I never thought it could happen to me. And yet, it is. It’s happening right now and, to some extent, I’ve been taking it and all the other amazing things in my life for granted.

I’ve read so many stories from people who have achieved huge financial and personal success and there seems to be a common theme. Many of them say it’s not what they expected and, in many ways, they were happier when life was simpler. This really hit home for me after the loss of Anthony Bourdain, someone I admired for many years. His death made me realise a person can seemingly have ‘everything’ and still not be truly happy. It held a mirror up for me, helping me see that I’m in the best part of my life right now and rather than wishing for more, I need to enjoy what I already have.

Right now, there’s no pressure on Matt and me. We earn enough money to pay our bills and live a life we love. We get to wake up every day and do something we love, without the pressure of the whole world watching us. We can create whatever we like and, really, if we decided we never wanted to create anything ever again, it wouldn’t matter! Right now, our lives are our own and we can do whatever the heck we want. We’re working our butts off to achieve our dreams and it feels so good. In many ways, I think this part of our lives, hustling for what we want and working towards it, feels better than achieving it could ever feel.

Just like our trip to New Zealand, so much of the joy is in the years of anticipation, planning, group chat texts and excitement. Similarly, all the build-up will lead to a few short days of enjoyment before the goalposts change again and we’re working towards the next goal. I don’t want to keep losing time thinking about ‘when,’ because the right now it’s pretty amazing and if I can’t learn to appreciate all the things I have now, I’ll never appreciate what’s to come.

If 2011 Phoebe could’ve held a crystal ball and seen 2019 Phoebe, she would have been in disbelief. Not just at Little Grey Box and the life it has given me but at who I’ve grown into as a person. I don’t want to lose that perspective anymore, I want to hold onto it and use it to help me truly appreciate all that I am and all that I have. I don’t want to be so tied up in the future that I lose sight of the present. I want to enjoy every single moment of the journey and, hopefully, it helps me be even more appreciative of achieving my goals too.

It seems fitting to end this post with this:

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realising how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” – Anthony Bourdain. 

Have a great weekend and I’ll speak to you next Friday.

Love, Phoebe x

Little Grey Box

I'm a writer and presenter and my husband Matt is a videographer. Together, we run Little Grey Box; an award-winning travel blog and YouTube channel.

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