There is something in your life that you are not happy with. I guess that fact doesn’t make you unique. I would argue that most people are in the same boat where they feel like they have to row very hard to just stay in one place or risk drifting down the river without any control of their direction or speed. Now is your chance to start shedding light on the issues at hand. You can do this assessment on a given topic or life in general. Usually we find that making a start on one thing will lead to the opening of the floodgates to all aspects of your life. Regaining control over your own life can be quite addictive. That is great. Read the instructions below once completely through before actually doing anything. GO!
Step 1: Take a blank piece of paper. I think at least an A4 size - bring a few pages just in case. On one side draw a large-ish Plus (+) sign. On the reverse draw a Large-ish Minus (-) sign. Now simply get to writing. Let your mind simply empty out onto that page. Do not edit your thoughts, do not try to curb the flow of consciousness. Let it all out onto that paper. Feel free to flip from one side to the other and back again. Just keep on writing until you start to repeat yourself. There are no right or wrong answers, simply things that you feel that are either working (+) or not working (-) for you on the chosen topic. Just make bullet points and don’t explain it. You know what it means.
If you love your spouse, house, car and hobbies, put those into the + column. If your boss is a jerk (even in a multitude of different ways), then write “boss is a jerk” in the - column, you don’t have to go deeper into it now. Health problems each gets their own entry as well as financial and emotional worries. Equally, minor irritants, such as the ugly and filthy carpet in the lounge is an irritant, hence it gets an entry. So, simply write down everything - it may take a while.
Step 2: Have a look at your product so far. If you have a lot more plusses than minuses, then good, chances are that you may not need to completely overhaul your life. If, on the other hand, the list of minuses is much longer than that of the plusses, then I feel that you seriously need to consider getting the hell out of dodge and starting afresh (in one way or another). Sure, you need to check for the impact of each item when it comes down to making the big decision whether to pack up and go or not. So don’t let a bunch of temporary minor irritants dislodge you from your dream life. Sometimes even major irritants can be blessings in disguise. Recognise it all for what it is.
Step 3: Go through the list item by item. With the positives, think about how you can increase the positive effect of each + item on your life, and how you can max out on the time spent with the positive things. With the negatives the process is again two fold. Those that you have any morsel of control over, please circle and index with a number and then write a little plan to eradicate or to at least minimise their effect on you and your life. Those that you have zero control over, simply cross out of the list and stop worrying about them. Just accept them and move on.
Step 4: Let’s draw this back to the big picture. All processes have a beginning, middle part and an ending. So now that you know where you are starting from, imagine where you would love to end up. What do you want your life to be like in five years time? Or in ten years time? Seriously. Write down the list of your dreams, ambitions, aspirations, hopes, wishes, and wild adventures. I urge you to make this list again as exhaustive as possible. Really dwell on the stuff you want.
This is where the magic truly happens. Maybe for the first time in your life you are thinking of the things you really want - this makes it possible for you to actively steer your life in the direction of your choosing. Without any goals and targets you will simply wander aimlessly and fall into things that you may not have chosen at all.
On the flip side of the coin, what most people do is focus on the negatives. They dwell on the stuff that they don’t want. They focus on the unwanted so much that it manifests in their lives in abundance. You know those people who are “unlucky” and to whom “stuff just happens”... they are the ones who only ever think of the financial, physical and emotional hardships and that is where they will spend their lives. Get out of the negatives and focus on the positives.
Step 5: Now compare your two lists. The baseline and the end result. You have got your journey from A to B. You know where you are starting from and you know where you want to end up. At this point take the Sat-Nav and kick it to touch. Instead, use the steps in your baseline list (how to increase the effect of the + and minimise the effect of the -) as a starting point and then complete the plan of your journey. Again, take your time with it. Let it all out.
Here you need to come up with concrete steps of the journey. Sometimes all you can see in front of you is the first step and that’s fine. The inspiration will come and the path will open up in front of you. You need to set realistic targets with achievable time frames and not engage in wishy-washy, imprecise dreaming (that’s what you have been doing for most of your life until now). Break down the big goals into smaller chunks and assign action items to each. If you have lots of different and unrelated goals, see which one you want to get started with first and focus on them one at a time.
Step 6: Follow the plan. Stick to it like a leech. Grind. Do the work. Trust your plan. Stop fretting the small stuff. Grind. Never lose sight of the goal. Keep at it. Through thick and thin. Work hard and work smart. Grind some more.
Great. Now you have a bit of clarity in your life. You will probably have more of an idea of where you are and what it actually means. Sometimes it takes a while to pluck up the courage to really act on the results of the previous exercise, but trust me, sooner or later you will feel compelled to do it. As it turns out it is much easier to not challenge your life. To simply go with the flow. To just numbly and aimlessly wander down a path of life without any real sense of purpose or direction - like the rest of the faceless herd. The social pressure and acceptance are powerful deterrents. But let’s not kid ourselves any longer. This stuff is for you - not for them. The lion doesn’t put much importance on the bleatings of the sheep. Instead of focussing on the many ways things can go wrong, start directing all your focus on the abundance of ways things can and will go right.