I have always been a bit envious of people who are able to save money because this is not a trait that I was given. I try to save money but before I know it, it is gone. I used to spend money on meaningless things so I give myself credit for having changed that terrible habit. Now , before a purchase, I spend time thinking about what I buy and oftentimes, I walk away. No matter, I am still terrible at saving significant amounts of money.
To make my inability to save money even worse, I also hate working. So, with no money and a desire to not work, a large aspect of my life seems fairly hopeless. Not really but I do know that working is in my future for quite a long time. The worst part of this, for several years, has been how much having no money in savings and dreading having to find another job have weighed on me. All other aspects of my life are great but these two areas tend to really drag me down.For my entire adult life, these two areas have always weighed heavy.
These feelings of dread have lingered so long that I simply felt this state of being was a way of life but amazingly, I have suddenly begun to feel differently.
While speaking to a friend, it occurred to me that I am placing too much focus on my hatred of work and lack of savings and no focus at all on larger goals and aspects of my life.
Suddenly, I am reminded of the saying, “Focus on what you have, not what you do not.” It is so easy to focus on the negative.
Yes, to some degree I think we would all prefer not to work. However, in my case, I actually love what I do and I have absolutely no regrets about any career related decisions I have made. So, what is the problem? In my city, the jobs that exist are government contracts and I simply do not want to do that anymore and the jobs likely will not pay what I would like to earn. I am also seeking flexibility with my work schedule.
Finally, I am not motivated so looking for a job. The thought just makes me feel sick and in the back of my mind, I know that when I am forced to get a job, I am simply going to ruin interviews because I have no motivation or I will take a job that I truly will not enjoy. Either way, the job search will not go well.
Knowing what I do not want to do is easier than deciding what I want to do and where I want to focus my efforts. Following the conversation with my friend, I was actually inspired for the first time in several years.
I was inspired to look at the big picture and ask myself, “What am I trying to accomplish for the long term?” Answering this question was fairly easy and I can now work on the incremental pieces that will keep me focused and help me arrive at the long term goal. This approach does not focus my efforts on “I must find a job” or “I have no savings” but instead it focuses me on identifying:
- My professional attributes that I would like to continue using
- Jobs that use my attributes
- What I need to do to bring the two together
- How much money I will save from my next paycheck
This is research, this is an exercise, this is a systematic way of building to finding a new job and being able to take a three week vacation at the end of 2017. This is exciting!
Once I changed my mindset, I immediately named this approach my annual life plan and then I thought, surely there is something on the internet that tells me how to create a life plan. Well, sure enough, a life plan is a real thing and I found the perfect site within moments.
Although I have talked about work a lot, my life plan does not focus solely on finding a job. From a list of approximately 20 areas, I have selected a total of four areas in which to place my focus.
Finances, career, relationship, and self improvement were the areas that I identified as needing my attention. I defined my long term mission/goal for each and now, I will start writing short term, measurable goals to accomplish in each area, each week.
For the first time in several years, I am excited about eventually finding a new job. More important, I am thrilled at the thought of working towards a long term goal one week at a time. Perhaps, this is part of me acknowledging, in the moment, short term accomplishments.
I will summarize some of the process for creating a life plan but there are many available on the internet.
- Score yourself on various areas in your life (0-10).
- Select 4-5 of the areas to focus on that received the lowest score . Yes, work and finances scored “0” on my list.
- Write a vision statement for each area – how would the area look if everything was going the way you want it to?
- Create specific, measurable actions for each area. This is where I will set weekly or bi-weekly measurable goals.
The full plan that includes detailed explanations can be found @ How to Write a Life Plan.
How’s your life plan going? Has it been hard to start or maintain? How do you stay on track?