It’s a depressing one, but it’s one I want to talk about today.
Many people get to a point where it hits them: this isn’t the life they want to live. For me, I realised stress and debt were pulling me down.
You might then start to wonder how your life, once so carefree and full of spontaneity, friendship and joy, somehow became all about the daily grind, paying the bills and doing the chores.
You might start to question everything: what you do for a living, how you spend your time, what your home looks like or even where you live.
You might start, as I did, researching different ways to live. You might start reading about people who retire in their 30s after saving like mad and drastically cutting their expenditures. You might start reading about people who sell almost everything they own and start travelling around the world, living out of a backpack. You might start reading about people who make their fortunes by setting up their own businesses after leaving low-paid jobs. You might start reading about people who, conversely, packed in highly-paid but soulless jobs to pursue their creative passions despite earning peanuts by doing so.
Many, if not all, of these ways of living might sound very appealing indeed, even the ones which directly contradict each other. You fantasise about every life but your own.
Wanting to make big changes to your life is a worthwhile goal. But it can have the effect of making you even less happy with your day-to-day reality. Very few of us can just flick a switch and retire early, or go travelling, or create a lucrative business empire. These things will take years, if not decades, so if your goal really is happiness, you need to find a quicker way of getting there.
This week, I tried something a little different. I called it my ‘reverse bucket list’. I didn’t make a list of all the high-falutin’ goals I wanted to achieve or things I wanted to do. Instead I listed loads of cool, interesting and impressive things I’ve already done.
This included flying in a helicopter, experiencing an earthquake, partying at a cherry blossom festival in Tokyo, watching an event at the Olympics, getting my MA, kayaking around a tropical island, taking part in jury service, dying my hair purple and (one I can add from just last week) sitting in the cockpit of a commercial airliner.
It wasn’t an exercise in boasting. Other people will have done different cool things – perhaps things that would terrify me, like getting a tattoo or skydiving or even (gulp) having children.
Instead, it was a reminder that life isn’t something that starts when I’ve got that dream job, or I’ve quit the rat-race, or I’ve moved abroad, or sold all my stuff. It’s happening now and it can be bloody awesome.