When I was younger I thought 28 meant being married, thinking about kids, and being happily focused on a career path– one that I most certainly loved. Now in my mid-20’s, I realize that vision couldn’t be more wrong. Instead, I question everything, I can barely afford my rent, and I still eat cereal at midnight when I’m stressed. What happened to my picturesque plan? How did I get so far off course? Life. Life happened. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s good to have a plan, but when that plan gets in the way of reality it might be time to re-assess. Atomic living is a philosophy I recently stumbled upon from a friend of mine trying to give me career advice. I’d been struggling with a new opportunity and the role it played into my life— or more specifically, my plan. It forced me to ask which life I was actually talking about? The life I’d planned out for myself, or the one that I’m currently living?
The Atomic living philosophy was developed by Kiran Gandhi, a Harvard Business School graduate and the drummer of M.I.A.. Kiran believes that the only thing leading your life should be your passions, not the arbitrary timelines and checkpoints that you’ve set for yourself. Those passions help steer your ship. The theory is simple– as long as you live with those guidelines, the story will write itself.
I wasn’t hunting that job opportunity down, but rather it found me– and at the perfect time. It was exactly what I’d been subconsciously asking for. The only problem was– after years of saying that I needed to leave LA to accomplish my dream of living abroad– this new position would keep me in place for at least another year. Atomic living forced me to dig deep down and figure out what my “life guides” were. For me they were: storytelling, traveling, writing, and making. So if this job encompassed all of those things, then living abroad could wait.
What I love most about embracing this philosophy is that now I have the freedom to pursue any opportunity that comes my way. Maybe I’d pictured having kids by 28, but if a relationship doesn’t align with my passions at the moment, there’s nothing holding me down. Or if I’d expected to be in a specific title within four years but a new opportunity presents itself, I can follow that new path.
This type of mindset will help you live in the present, see the adventure in things, and help you feel centered. Ultimately, you shouldn’t feel guilty about any of your decisions, as long as it aligns with your passions. You shouldn’t be tethered to anything other than your heart.