Erin Niimi Longhurst on Aspiring to a Purpose-Filled Life

Erin Niimi Longhurst is the author of Japonisme, Omoiyari, and A Little Book of Japanese Contentments. Based in London, she is an enthusiastic cook and is currently very into pickling things.

On quiz results

My quiz result was Profound Precrastinator. It is eerily accurate – I love lists, but tend to focus on the smaller tasks and overload at the expense of the present! I try to be disciplined about down time – during this latest lockdown I’ve scheduled in time to achieve a proper balance and it’s helped tremendously.

I like scheduling in time to take care of myself ahead of time, whether it’s diarising my exercise or making meal plans for the week ahead. I’m also a big believer in prevention being better than a cure, so I make a lot of my choices based on that philosophy.

On always having something going on…to a point!

I think my precrastination is something I rely on quite a lot, to make sure I’ve always got something going on. My father always used to say that only boring people are bored, and it’s always stuck with me. I like being able to sink my teeth into a project of some kind, and I think the nature of being a precrastinator means that you always have something on the go.

A risk with my precrastination is that I have a tendency to take on too much at once, or all the opportunities come at the same time! I got the offer to write my first book the day before I was due to start culinary school – which I was doing alongside a full-time job. 

Enrolling in culinary school part-time was always a dream of mine, while the offer to write a book came out of the blue. I was tempted to give one up for the other, but it seemed as if two things I’d always wanted were happening at the same time, and it was too difficult for me to give either of those dreams up. I’m not quite sure how I made it work, but it seems to be a recurring pattern that I’m trying to address as I get older.

On finding balance

I used to be a huge procrastinator, and I definitely think I still am in some elements of my life. I think these tendencies are heightened during stressful times in our lives, and I’ve found taking a ‘pre-crastinator’ approach alleviates some of those feelings, but it’s really about finding your balance.

This year, I’ve started journaling in the morning in addition to the evening, which has helped so much. The act of free-flowing, uninhibited writing is extremely comforting, as is reading over and processing at a time when I feel ‘safer’ to do so.

I value yoga and breathing exercises as well – I used to practice yoga on a more regular basis prior to the pandemic, and fell out of practice. This month I made it a priority to practice every other day, and it’s really helped me to prioritise and set boundaries with my work.

I’m a big list-maker, and so having a section for ‘creativity’ as well as ‘self-care’, and making sure those are just as non-negotiable as other sections is something that is extremely beneficial.

On investing in well-being

I recently invested in a reMarkable tablet, and couldn’t recommend it enough. I think it’s so important not to look at a screen, and the act and practice of writing is so important. Being able to digitise these notes and drawings and share them has been game-changing.

I use Todoist for my to-do lists, and my fancy yoga mat is another lockdown purchase I invested in. It makes me so happy every time I roll it out that it was worth every penny.

There is a Japanese proverb, the prime of your life does not come twice, and it’s so apt. I love it because it’s not to do with age, but potential, and to really seize the day.

ERIN NIIMI LONGHURST

What being preinclined means to Erin

I love the concept of preinclination, because it’s such a great way to describe the way in which I strive to live my own life. There is a Japanese proverb, the prime of your life does not come twice, and it’s so apt. I love it because it’s not to do with age, but potential, and to really seize the day.

My writing has always been shaped by my upbringing, in particular my Japanese grandfather, who was a successful businessman but also a temple elder. Growing up, I saw a version of him getting ready for work each day – he’d often look stern, serious, deep in thought – but just as often I would see him come back home and cook something delicious for lunch, or tend to his garden, go for walks. What inspired me was the balance he had, and yet how this time he had to play (for the lack of a better word) was also integral to success in other areas of his life. He was preparing and building his career, alongside his future for himself and his family, but he also took the time to appreciate things, have long baths, and live in the present. 

In many ways my grandfather died before he was truly able to enjoy the fruits of his labour and retirement, but it wasn’t as though he had dedicated his life to work – he had a full, purpose-filled life in other aspects too. It’s something I aspire to, and take inspiration from.

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