Somewhere, buried deep in all of us, there is a yearning. A yearning for something bigger, grander or simply something more. Toiling away at a desk for hours on end while lining someone else’s pockets with money is generally not how we envisage our lives to be. We seek enrichment, fulfilment, happiness and flexibility. We want to achieve for ourselves, to hit our own goals and to grow and learn as individuals, not within our employer’s structure or HR policy.
I remember starting my very first job out of law school. Yes, it was exciting, nerve racking and exhilarating however I couldn’t move past the fact that this was potentially something I would be doing every single day for the next fifty years of my life. Needless to say, that notion did not sit well with me.
This ongoing feeling of unease forced me to look deeper within myself. What did I really want out of life? I reassessed my passions, values and goals and decided then and there that I was no longer willing to compromise those in order to climb some invisible corporate ladder or to waste the best years of my life whiling away my hours in an office.
For me personally, this meant quitting my stable and well-paid day job, renting my apartment, getting rid of most of my possessions (including mountains of clothes) and bidding farewell to Australia in search of bigger and better things in New York. Yes, it was (and still is) scary. Yes, it was and is difficult and yes, I am constantly filled with uncertainty. At the end of each day however, I can sleep solidly knowing I made that bold first step to make a positive change in my life.
But how can you make this happen? I’ll share with you some titbits that I found extremely useful during this transitional phase of my life.
1. Just start
Got a passion? An idea? A business plan? Stop thinking about it and actually do it. I don’t care if you don’t have time, can’t afford it, or don’t know enough about it yet. If you want it badly enough, simply make it happen, even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day. Stop procrastinating and do it. It wasn't meant to be easy - if it was, you would have already done it, right?
Draft up a list of daily, weekly and monthly goals that will edge you closer to your aim. Make sure you do at least one thing per day that will help you achieve this.
2. Break up big, scary ideas into smaller manageable ones
Making a huge life change is extremely daunting and can overwhelm easily. Instead of tackling your plan in one big blob, break it up into smaller chunks and deal with one thing at a time: plan out your financial situation, resolve to learn more about what you need to make the transition, go and seek professional advice. Slowly begin to piece these elements of the puzzle together until you can see the big picture.
3. Be accountable – share your plans with others
I love this one. It keeps you honest and on track. The more people you tell, the harder it is to back out if you decide to change your mind or chicken out. Tell your family, your partner, your friends. Post your intentions all over social media, multiple times a day. Create a vision board in your home. Do anything and everything you can to get your word out there into the universe. When 100-plus people know, see how easy it is to back out then. Kind of embarrassing, right?
4. Track your progress
Drafting a chart outlining your weekly achievements is a great visual way to review your progress and to assess whether you are on track. Reward yourself if you have to for each box ticked off at the end of each week. If you have a visual reminder of your goals, you will be more likely to stick to your plans.
5. Let the magic begin and let go of fear
Fear is a natural element in all significant changes we make in our lives. Don’t let it get in your way though. Anxiety can be a crippling feeling and if you let it get the better of you, all your hard work will have been to no avail. Follow through, suck up the fear and keep going. If you face set backs, work harder, smarter and discover new ways of getting things done.
Making that first step towards your dream life is so difficult however remember that nothing is impossible. Start planning big today. See how much you can achieve by year’s end.