I bet you’re doing everything right. You have a great job, you have a social life, you can pay your bills, and everything is great, right? Maybe not. If you feel like something is still missing and you aren’t totally in love with your life, you aren’t alone! So, how do you stop settling for a life you don’t love?
There have been a few times in my life where I just knew that I needed to make a change. When I was about two years out of college, I decided to take a new job and move to a completely new city by myself. My boyfriend, family, and friends were all hours away. I thought it was going to be my great new start after leaving a job I hated.
Within six months, I was totally miserable.
I honestly don’t really know exactly what it was that made me so unhappy – I think a combination of the work I was doing and living alone. I’m a CPA and did taxes at the time, which means long long hours during tax season. There were weeks that I wouldn’t talk to another person for two or three days. By the end of that tax season, I knew something needed to change.
So, my boyfriend and I decided I was going to find a new job and move in with him. Literally the second I made the decision, I felt better. It’s been several years since I made that decision, but I can very easily look back now and know that was that right move.
You are in charge of your own life, and if you need to make a change to be happy, you can! Let’s talk about how to make it happen.
What Do You Really Want?
First, get clear about what you really want out of life. This can be hard when you just feel like something is “off.” This step requires you to really dig deep and be honest with yourself. What do you really want out of your life? What are you unhappy with?
Sit down in a quiet place when you have nothing to do and no one around to bother you. Get out a notebook and really think about what you want. If you could do anything with your life what would it be? If you could do anything, live anywhere, make any amount of money – write out exactly what you would want for your life if you could have anything.
I want you to ignore all the expectations of your family, friends, coworkers, and just society in general. Forget what you think anyone would think about your choices and just get them out on paper. This is your life and you only get to live it once – what do you want to do with it?
Write out exactly what you want for your life, but write it as if it’s already happened. So instead of writing “I want to run my business full time,” instead write “I run my business full time.” This will start to shift your thinking from the start that you can make it happen!
Turn Your Dreams Into Goals
Once you know where you want to be, compare that to where you are now. Once you know where you’re starting and where you want to go, you can start to turn your big dreams into actual goals.
One of the reasons people don’t achieve their dreams is because they don’t actually create a plan to make them happen. Take your list of dreams you want for your life and pick your top three. What three things do you want the most?
We are going to turn those into goals.
When I set goals, I like to start with the goal and work backward to where I am today. Choose one of your goals and brainstorm all the things you could do that would help you get from where you are now to meeting that goal. I’m going to use the example of paying off all my debt.
What do I need to do to pay off my debt?
- create a budget each month
- choose a debt payment method (snowball or avalanche)
- find ways to save money
- find ways to make more money
Once you brainstorm the steps you need to take to reach your goal, turn those steps into an action plan. To pay off my debt, I’ll pull out my calendar and write in time to do my budget before the start of every month. I’ll set up my budget binder so I don’t have any excuses for not getting it done. Through budgeting, I can find ways to save money.
Then I’ll compare the benefits of the debt snowball vs. debt avalanche methods and decide which one is going to be better for my situation.
My next action step would be finding ways to make more money. For me, that has turned out to be this blog and my YouTube channel.
Just writing down goals and hoping they happen is not enough. You need to figure out what exact actionable steps you can take and work toward every single day that will start moving you closer to your goals. Be specific with your steps and make sure to keep track of your progress along the way!
How to Manage Expectations
So, I told you to write out what you want and ignore any expectations people have for you. The reality is that you will have to deal with those expectations as you start to make changes. This can be tough, especially if you’ve always been someone (like me) that defined yourself by meeting the expectations of others.
First, I really really want you to embrace the fact that this is your life. You are the one that has to live in your life day in and day out, so you are the only person that needs to be truly happy with it. You are not required to make yourself uncomfortable for someone else to stay comfortable.
Second, remember that the expectations of your family and friends are usually just because they want to see you do well. It can be hard to go against well-meaning advice or concerns, especially if they’re coming from your parents. While you should take some advice into consideration, don’t change your dreams just because other people think it would be hard or risky.
You aren’t required to tell anybody as you start working on your goals, either. You can start taking steps to change your life and let people in on your plans as things start moving. If you do the work and show people that you’ve already made progress on your goals it makes them easier to talk about.
It’s going to take you a while to start moving your life in the direction you want to go. Finding inspiration will help keep you pushing forward!
I listen to podcasts every day on my 45-minute commute. My favorites are Don’t Keep Your Day Job, Goal Digger, and Rise. Sometimes when I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work and not seeing any results, an episode of one of these podcasts gets me going again. Listening to Don’t Keep Your Day Job actually gave me the push I needed to even start my blog!
There are also tons of YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and books that can offer motivation and great information. I always find reading and learning more about business gets me excited about working on mine.
You can also find Instagram accounts with great tips and inspirational posts. Find others that are working toward and have already reached the same things you’re working for. Seeing their progress can work to motivate you – plus you can always find some new internet friends to discuss your goals and find accountability with!
Nobody Is Going To Do It For You
You are in charge of your own life – nobody is going to make changes for you. If you’re unhappy it’s up to you to fix it!
Changing your life requires you to play the long game. I am the most impatient person (my boyfriend can confirm!) but when it comes to creating a life I truly love, I understand it’s going to take time to get there. Find ways to stay motivated and keep visualizing where you want to be. You have to do the work to make a change.
We all only get this one life to live, and if you’re feeling unfulfilled it might be time to start working toward those big dreams you’ve always had. Figure out what you want, set those goals, and get to work!