A New Life - Turning Someday Into a Plan

The pursuit of happiness always starts with a dream and a decision doesn't it? Making that decision is a process and likely one that doesn't come overnight. Once a seed is planted it needs to germinate before it gets to the point of blossoming into an actual decision for most of us. For me, it started with a feeling of something missing, boredom with the status quo, a sense of longing for something new and ultimately the news that my daughter and granddaughter would be moving to California in the near future; the seed.

Since receiving that news and for the past several months I found myself visualizing my life with less; less things and stuff, responsibility and burden. I began to wonder why I needed the sheer volume of things I have accumulated that sit unused taking up space and are not as appreciated as they once were. I came to realize that I had outgrown my lifestyle and the longing I felt was genuine even though the dramatic change I am contemplating is a little bit scary it is something I can do if I choose to.

I found myself reading about people who say they have simply sold all their accumulated belongings to travel or move to enjoy a completely new lifestyle and environment. It sounds so exciting and easy doesn't it? Well, I can attest to the exciting part but easy, not so much. You see part of my vision is a somewhat minimalist lifestyle and the true ability to be free to move or leave if the mood strikes me. My vision and intent is a return to the gypsy like lifestyle of my youth.

I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to California to take a look at what will likely become my new 'little' home! There have been and I know there will be moments when I will question my decision and sanity. In fact I had a few of those moments on my trip as I looked at apartments for the first time in many years. The reality of true downsizing! The good news was each of the properties I looked at had wonderful amenities; crystal clear swimming pools, exercise rooms, lush landscaping, some with meeting/party space if needed and all maintained by someone other than me! Each had beautiful new models I could see myself enjoying but here are a few of the questions that put my plan into perspective for me.

  1. Is there a garage? The efficient friendly representative gently explained I would receive an assigned parking space and the remaining unmarked spaces would be for guests.
  2. How about storage? Well some of the units have a closet on the patio. Christmas will be different and I guess I'll be going through the 5 large boxes of photos that house 40 some years of memories. No worries, I haven't looked at them for the last 20 or thirty years and it's time to condense them.
  3. Laundry? Certain units have a stackable washer dryer and a couple of the properties actually offered the full size versions. Of course after viewing the closets, albeit walk in style, I will definitely be ditching a lot of my clothes.
  4. There were more eye openers resulting from questions I thought to ask and probably many more I should have asked. Upon returning home and taking a look around I realize I have a lot to do; a home to sell and an incredible amount of STUFF to get rid of. This is definitely a moment in a drastic lifestyle change when it would be easy to crawl back into the status quo and simply continue to think about changing my life and wonder why it isn't happening. So how do I maintain my momentum to turn my someday dream into an effective plan for a new life? Below is an exercise with a series of the questions to help anyone get unstuck and focused toward any goal. Take out a piece of paper or journal if you are keeping one and write the answers to these questions:
  5. What it is that you want? Take the time to write and get very clear in your mind what your 'ideal' looks like.

Answer these identifying questions:

  • What have you done so far? What worked best and what didn't?
  • What it is that you want? Take the time to write and get very clear in your mind what your 'ideal' looks like.
  • What skills and resources do you have that could move you forward?
  • What research could you do to help you find the next step?
  • What do you need to do before you do anything else?
  • Who else could you ask for help in achieving your goal?

Taking action: Looking at the list you have just made answer these questions:

  • What would the smallest and easiest step be for you?
  • How can you make the task or action more enjoyable or fun?
  • What action could you take in the next 10 minutes?
  • What 3 actions could you take that make sense this week?
  • Who else could help you in completing your actions?

Commitment - DO SOMETHING!

  • When specifically will you do your action? Day and time
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to complete each action?
  • If it's below an 8, ask what is stopping you from completing the actions and then make it your first action.
  • How do you normally sabotage yourself and what will you do differently this time?
  • How will you know you've completed your action/s and who will you tell (to support you in completing them)?
  • How will you feel once you have completed your actions?
  • How will you reward yourself?

The reality is I have a choice as we all do when we are attempting to make a change. I can continue to stay 'safe' and shackled to 'things' and a life I have outgrown or risk, thrive and shape a life that is more of who I am now. It's our dreams and goals that keeps us young and alive so I will continue to think of change as a chance to rethink and revise my behaviors, routines, beliefs and goals and not allow fear to paralyze me. California here I come!