Thursday, November 2, 2017

How to eat an elephant, and live the life you want

How do you set goals so that you are living the life you want? It can seem overwhelming and difficult, so many people put it into the too hard basket. Four years ago, I separated from my husband and became a single Mum. Three years ago, I decided to take control of my life and consciously move towards my "ideal" life. Taking into account that there is always room for improvement, I am happy to say that I am 90% of the way there. How did I do it? It was surprisingly simple once I had made the decision that I wanted to be happy living my life.

Step 1: What does your ideal life look like?
Take a good hard look at your life. Now think about the life you want to live. I am not talking about the glitzy jets, and owning more Rolex than you have arms. I am talking about connecting with your friends, volunteering, pursuing that hobby, enjoying time with your special someone, building your career (or perhaps an Empire...notice the capital "E"?). If I told you that it would all be over tomorrow, what would your life's regret be?

For example, after separating and moving back into town, I was renting a cheap two bedroom unit, with no backyard and mold in the laundry. I had no friends, as I had lived out west on a farm for the last six years, and had gradually lost touch, or outgrown, what friends I did have. I was in a three day a week job that had no scope to improve my skills, and it didn't provide me with the work/life balance, or the satisfaction, that I craved. It was all in all a pretty dismal existence.

What I wanted was a life that would allow me time with my daughter, work satisfaction, and enough money to purchase somewhere for the two of us to live, save for my little one's schooling, and still being able to have ice-cream when we go to the park. I wanted friends that I could spend time with, with similar interests, who are good humans. Mentally, and physically, I wanted to be fit, and strong, so that my daughter has a good role model, and a healthy Mum.

Step 2: Identify the obstacles to being your ideal you
Now, grab a piece of paper, and a pen, and write down everything that you think could be holding you back. Is it your age? Is it your income? Is it time? Concentrate on why you don't do the things that you want to do, rather than why you are doing what you currently do.

My obstacles were a lack of income, social networks, and profile in town. Never one to sit around and feel miserable, I decided that things needed to change.

Step 3: Plan to change each obstacle, one at a time
The list becomes a blueprint for your goals list. Each thing that is holding back is something that needs to be changed. Too old too start again - change your perspective to "I'm running out of time to start again". Can you increase your skill level, reputation, or employment to earn more? Working smarter applies for those of us who need more time in our lives.

Put a time line on each obstacle so that you can track your progress. Acknowledge that they won't all be able to be changed at once. For example, you may want a career change, but you have a young family and so you can't afford the pay cut. Is it possible to study, and save, until the children are older and then switch careers with minimum fuss?

The first thing I did was increase my income by delivering pamphlets around town on my days off. This achieved two things; it meant I could save a deposit for my unit, and it also increased my fitness without me having to pay for a gym membership. Sure, it wasn't necessarily the funnest thing in the world, pushing a pram with a toddler around a hilly suburb, but it kicked two goals at once.

Secondly, I networked like a Queen Bee. This let me meet people, raise my profile, and eventually led to the friends I have now. I also revived old networks that I had before moving out to the Farm, and put a plan in place to up-skill by studying at night time. All of this led me to the position that I have now, which at four days a week, allows me the work/life balance that I need as a single Mum, remunerates me well enough that I could drop the pamphlet delivery, pay a mortgage, save for education costs, get a gym membership, and most importantly provides me with the job satisfaction that I crave.

By taking one realistic bite at a time, and putting a plan in place, you have something to aim for, and more importantly, you are always moving forward towards that ideal you.

Find Erin* at Achieveit Financial Planning, or call for an appointment on 07 4638 5011.
*Authorised Representative of Securitor Financial Group Ltd ABN 48 009 189 495 AFSL 240687

This is general information only and does not consider your personal circumstances. You should not act on any recommendation without obtaining professional advice specific to your circumstances. We recommend you speak to a financial adviser before acting on any of the information you read on this website.