This is the year of 40. Although it does not happen until nearly the end, it is colouring all my decisions. It sounds like a sad occasion, but it is not. 40 has given me a clarity I did not realize I could have. My experiences leading up to this milestone birthday are helping me make key decisions for life going forward.
So what have I learned? Here are some of the highlights.
1. I have the ability to shape my future to my liking, without the voices in my head that say otherwise.
2. I can overcome negativity, rise above it, and be a better human.
3. I can live anywhere in the country (or world) and be happy. My location on the planet does not determine my mental state.
4. My talents can be combined to make a kick ass career, if I just apply myself to the future.
5. I do not need to have children to feel fulfilled.
6. My life will mean something only if I make a difference for others while I am here on this rock.
7. The life I thought I was supposed to live should never hold me back from the possibilities of the future.
A key concept that I have decided to pursue in order to make the future bright involves modifying my state of mind. Here is my plan to gain clarity and move forward. This can be useful for so many of us and I wish that I had been presented with it at a young age. It is not about being selfish, but mindful.
First, block off a minimum of 15 minutes, uninterrupted. Be sure to have paper and a pen or pencil, whichever you prefer. Find a comfortable spot to sit where you can reflect and write. Once you are settled begin by writing down your top dream in life. What did you want to do when you were growing up? It can be the most impossible dream ever, but you should still write it down. When you are considering this dream, do not veer off into blame or negativity. Do not think of the reasons why you did not fully pursue the dream, just simply consider it.
Now think about where you are currently. What is your situation? Do you have bills and a family? Do you have a job you love or a job you hate? Are you in a slump? Write this down.
Next, think about what you would do to change your current situation to make it happy for you. This is difficult, but during this portion of the exercise do not think of others. Only focus on you. In a world where you are on your own, with no obligations or restrictions, what would you do? Would you pursue your previous dream or would you create a whole new dream? Would you move to a new city or would you stay where you are? If no other human beings were involved in your decision making, what would you do? Write this down.
Last, think in practical terms. If you were to pursue this new (or old) dream, what would you need to do to make it happen? Would you need to take classes? Would you need to travel? Would you need to get better organized or would you simply have to just get started? Write down the steps you need to take to make this dream a reality. Again, do this without consideration for others.
Now, I realize this might seem like a self centered exercise and, in fact, it totally is, but that is the point. If you do not take the time to sit and think about your own goals and dreams, you will never seek to achieve beyond your current state. You will continue to live in the past, hold grudges, grip tight to the things you have that you think make you who you are, and never leave your comfort zone. This exercise does not have to result in a full life change, but it simply gives you clarity and, perhaps, a plan to move forward. Having self awareness and self reliance are important parts of being a functioning human. Being able to move forward with positivity is the goal. Whether you stay where you are in life or move on, as long as you gain an inner peace, this exercise was successful. Releasing the past is key to moving forward.
I hope this is as useful to you as it has been for me. I find that doing this exercise every couple months can help me to refocus my goals. I may not get to my ultimate dream, but I will get closer than I would if I chose to never consider my own needs and wants. It also gives me the clarity to make my five year plans and move forward toward those larger life goals. Let me know what you think in the comments.