As it’s still pretty early in the New Year, in fact the new decade, there is still quite a bit of talk about new year’s resolutions, changing our lives and essentially looking at what’s going on with us and how to make changes.
If you’re happy with your life and don’t want to change anything then that is awesome. I think that isn’t the case for a lot of us though and it’s those of you who would like to make a change, but don’t know how, that this is for.
I believe that every one of us has the ability to decide our future. I also think that we should think big as we decide what we want. The reason for that is that if we think small then we limit what might be possible for us, but if we think big then we might just be surprised at what is possible.
Just the other day I remembered an exercise that I did back in early 2011 when I REALLY wanted to change my life. Being a bit of a hoarder, and having an unusual memory, I knew exactly where the notes from that exercise were and I went and dug them out. It made for very interesting reading.
Here’s some context about what was going on in my life at that time; I was living in the North of England, I was newly married, I was working as a senior Human Resources professional working 50-60 hrs per week, I had 2 horses on livery that I rode 2-3 times a week, depending on where my work took me, whether I was in the right mindset to ride & if the weather was behaving – this was Yorkshire & snow in April wasn’t unheard of.
The exercise asked 5 questions and you’re encouraged to write down as many things that come to mind under each one, the questions are:
What do I want more of in my life?
What do I want less of in my life?
Which areas of my life could be improved?
What do I currently put up with?
What’s one thing
that I could do to effect positive change in my life?
Looking at my answers from 9 years earlier was really interesting. There was a focus on time, I felt obligated to do things for work that was taking me away from the horses, I was sick of being constantly on the go and in particular at spending my life sat in traffic. I wanted more time with the horses as well as personal achievement with them. The change that would effect all of that was moving to our property in France, where we could have the horses at home. We’d bought it 18 months earlier and at the time I answered the questions we were trying to work out how we could make a living once we’d moved.
We made that move in early 2012 and have never looked back. If you’d like to read more about that then click here.
From reading my answers I saw that the only thing that we haven’t achieved is growing our own food instead of buying it. We have dabbled in growing our own veg but we’ve realised that we’re not green fingered and essentially it’s not a priority for us. I could make an excuse about us not having enough time but I honestly believe that we make time for things that are important to us and we make excuses for those that aren’t. The bottom line is if it had been important enough to us then we’d have made time, but we haven’t and I’m ok with that.
I am definitely going to do this exercise again because it’s a great way to assess what could be better in my life and that will get me thinking about how I can put that into action.
It’s so easy to stay stuck in the weeds in every day life . Take 2019, how was it for you? Would you like another year like 2019? If you would then there’s probably no additional action required, if you don’t though then I would suggest that action is absolutely needed, or 2020 will be pretty much the same as 2019, if you don’t intervene.
Our busy lives are often a merry-go-round of getting up, going to work, coming home, having dinner, going to bed & then repeating this every day. There will be various other things in there, like getting the kids to school and all of their various activities, and you may get the odd night out with friends, but mostly this is how our life goes. Come the weekend, or our holidays, we’re all recovering from the merry-go-round, and the thought of thinking about what we want from our futures seems like way too big a topic to tackle when we have to get back on the merry-go-round in a matter of hours.
We left our version of the merry-go-round in early 2012, that plan was about 4 years in the making. When I announced my departure to my senior work colleagues one response really stood out as to why I had to make this move. That person had been with the business for 20+ years and I would guess that he was in his mid to late 40s at the time. He was really shocked by my plan and said ‘isn’t that seriously risky?’, my instinctive response & my reply to him was that there was a far greater risk that if I stayed I would compromise my sanity and I was deadly serious!
In reality he is probably still with that business, and coming up to get his 30 year long service award. That may well be right for him, but I knew that I needed a different path.
My role required quite a bit of UK travel, I would often find myself on a train station platform at 6am and I would return back at 8pm the same day. I can vividly recall seeing the same faces time and again, often people in their 50s and 60s and I knew that there was NO WAY that I wanted that for the next 25+ years.
That’s the thing about change, sometimes something that you don’t want is pushing you to make a change away from it, other times something is so appealing that you’re inspired to make a change to pull towards it. It’s different for all of us and sometimes it’s a mixture of both.
I don’t believe that it is necessarily about money. I earnt the most money that I have to date in the time before we left the UK and I was never less happy than at that time. Sometimes money is a factor though and it’s important to recognise when we need to do something to increase our earnings for our happiness or well being. Not long ago I heard someone say that they got up at 4am a couple of times a month to get a train outside of peak times because the cost of traveling in peak time was prohibitive.
I have done quite a bit of research on the importance of sleep to our health and the thought of compromising sleep as a result of money really doesn’t sit well with me – it brings into play the whole live to work or work to live conundrum. Don’t get me wrong, of course we all have to do what we need to do to make ends meet but it is exactly this reason why I think it’s so important to take a look at our lives and decide what we want to change and take action towards, or away from, it.
Have a go at the exercise that I have outlined above and then do this one:
Put some time aside and map out what you want your future to look like. Write it down, it’s proven that something is almost 50% more likely to happen when we write it down, it makes it more real somehow.
Think big and do not put limitations on what’s possible. Don’t limit yourself with your current reality, for example if you’d like to buy a holiday home somewhere but currently you don’t have any money left each month, don’t worry about the ‘how’ in this part, because looking at the how too early will stifle your thinking about what you want. Perhaps you want to put money aside for your children’s future education, maybe you want to be mortgage free by the time you’re 50, maybe you want some extra money at the end of each month to be able to have a holiday once a year without crippling yourself for the month before and after it.
Whatever it is write it down, let it sit with you for a few days and then come back to it and decide what actions you need to take to make it happen. This is a longer term process so give yourself time to come up with the how. We owned our French house for over 2.5 years before we were able to make the move and we’d dreamed about buying a place in France for 2 years before we bought it. In the time between when we bought it and moving over we had work done to it and saved like crazy so that we could make it how we wanted while we had the salaries.
This is the first step to building your future, you don’t need to rush it and it’s better that you don’t. See what your goals look like and let that sit with you. The next step is to look at those goals and decide what actions you need to take to make them happen.
That is the start of the really exciting bit, when your goals start to feel real and they change from wishes to plans. We can all decide what we want for our future, once we commit to the process. What does yours look like?
If you’d like to make a change in any area of your life and you would like my support then get in touch for your free 30 minute consultation session and we can discuss how I can help you.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for!