How to create a life you love Part 1: Clarify your vision
In my last post, I wrote about how catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while triggered a whole boatload of jealousy.Once I got clear on what I was actually jealous about, it was time to take some action.Because it is one thing to know what you are missing in your life, one thing to know what you want to change, and another to actually take the action to make the change. Staying stuck in the first one is the road to depression, anxiety, and guilt. The road from the second is the way to create a life you love living in.
How to create a life you love
This post is the first in a five-part series on how to move from longing to living the life you want. You can use these tools for big or small changes. And they work.I'm proof.I have gone from sitting at a desk in my corporate job longing for a life with a baby and some chickens running around the yard to working in my back yard office while my daughter is at camp and said chickens are scratching outside my door. I have shifted my diet. I have travelled overseas. I have put my money where my ideals are. My life is not perfect, and it is often shifting, but it feels intentional, and I love it.If I can do it, you can, too.Here's were we begin:
Get really really clear
Spend some time thinking or writing about what it is that you are craving or want more space for in your life. The trick here is to be as specific as you can be.You want to travel, but do you want to travel to Asia or to Europe? Do you want to go on tours, or rough it in hostels? Do you want to travel only where you know the language, or do you want to go there to learn the language? Do you want to fit your trips into school holidays, or pack up your house and hit the road for months at a time?Those kinds of details make a big difference, so think about what is really calling you. Not someone else's dream, but yours.But don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you want.Sometimes it is hard to identify the precise thing. For example, I used to long to go back to school and get an MFA in painting. That was impractical in my life for a lot of reasons, so I couldn’t just go apply to schools. But I took steps in that general direction. I took painting classes and went on creative retreats. I made time to paint, and I set up various spaces to work in. I explored different mediums and styles. Eventually I realized it was not the degree that I longed for, but having a dedicated space to create in, and having connections with other artistic people. When I got to a place where I had those elements in my life, I stopped longing for another degree.
One fun way to unlock these kinds of dreams is to do a timed free writing exercise. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write, non-stop using one of these prompts:
- But what I really want is...
- If I could do anything I would...
- Before I die I will...
Don't stop writing until the timer goes off. If you run out of words, come back to the prompt and start again.
Why is this important?
Clarifying your vision is the first step in creating change because it allows you to start creating a map. Traveling to the corner of Greene and Prince Street in Manhattan will get you somewhere precise (Apple SoHo, if you're curious), but traveling to New York City will just get you to a really huge city where you will be lost and overwhelmed and unsure what to do next.Once you know where you want to go, you can do the next step, which is drawing out the map that will get you heading in the right direction. Stay tuned for that post, coming soon!So what do you really really want?Read on to Part 2 in this series.