Make a Change, Part III: Make Room for Change

You’ve written your sucky life list and your kick ass life list and you’re revved up for how to set this plan into motion. In order to change your life, you need to clear some space in your schedule. Being busy all the time is killing your ability to try something new, which means you are stuck doing the same old same old and your life is passing you by. Decluttering your to do list, social calendar and unfavorable habits will make room to accomplish the things on your kick ass life list. Decluttering is not about restricting yourself. It is about releasing the time sucking activities and allowing you to envision the life you want.

I am not someone that likes to restrain myself, but when I decided to cut back on a couple of things that were adversely affecting my life (chocolate and TV to be more specific), a sea of opportunities flooded my way. I found myself doing new things that I hadn’t even realized I wanted to do. I began blogging, listening to podcasts, running, going on adventures with my family, enjoying the outdoors more, and began cooking new meals for my family. Before, I was mindlessly watching TV every evening while snacking continuously until I went to bed.  My dessert obsession was a huge distraction throughout my days and it was getting in the way of me doing the things I actually wanted to do. Breaking those habits that were hardwired into my life was liberating. After that, I decided to write these lists in the hopes that I could continue down this path of enriching my life with new experiences.

This process of reducing the things that are taking up your time is uncomfortable. If you decide to cancel cable like I did (and intentionally watch less Netflix/HBO), you might find yourself at a loss of what to do with yourself. You’re not used to having free time and it feels uneasy and possibly distressing. Don’t shy away from this! Embrace this time and see what happens. It is amazing how the ideas start to trickle in. Maybe ideas that you wrote down on your list, maybe something completely different. Be patient and see what happens. Find a way to carve out a couple of hours at night or maybe even a whole weekend if you can. Then allow yourself to fill that time with something different. Start to create the life you had imagined but didn’t have the time or energy for. The results will surly be life changing.

Make a Change, Part II: Dream Up a Kick Ass Version of Your Life

Now that you are finished writing your “what sucks about my life list”, its time to write the “my kick ass life” list. This is the one that addresses everything you wish your life was, but isn’t. Here, you will write all those things you’ve imagined doing, if only you had the time, money and energy.

Let me be clear, this is not just a typical bucket list that only includes lofty goals like moving to another country or jumping out of an airplane. Those goals might make an appearance on this list, but you will also want to include smaller ambitions that will concern your day to day life. Things that you could change immediately.

Start off by reviewing your sucky life list and begin problem solving. Imagine this is your buddy’s list and you are going to save the day and fix all of his problems. Not going outside enough? Go on daily walks. Feeling rushed in the mornings? Prep the coffee and do the dishes in the evenings to make for a calm start to the day. These solutions should make up the beginning of your kick ass life list.

The next step is to take a moment to imagine what you want your life to look like and then start writing down everything that comes to mind (leave a blank line or two under each idea). Here are some questions to get you thinking (don’t feel like you have to actually answer these, they are just to help get the ball rolling if you feel stuck):

  • Where do you see yourself living? Apartment in the city, cabin in the woods, big house in the suburbs, your van, bouncing from hostel to hostel, on a farm?
  • How would you make money? Would you be working from home or in an office with coworkers? What would your job be?
  • Does imagining yourself training for a marathon excite or bore you?
  • Do you want to live within walking distance to your in laws?
  • Do you prefer to go out for meals or would you prefer to eat at home?
  • Where do you want to vacation?
  • What kinds of things do you want to do with your kids on the weekends?
  • What time would you like to start and end your work day?
  • Would you prefer making your coffee at home or buying a cup at your local cafe?
  • Do you want to have sex more often?
  • Go on date nights?
  • Start your own business?
  • What kind of parent do you want to be?
  • Who do you want to interact with on a daily basis?
  • Do you want to join a local sports league?
  • What kind of friends do you want to spend time with? Describe your ideal friend and their interests.
  • Do you wish you had a smaller home that is easier to maintain?
  • Where are your kids going to school?
  • What addictions do you want to quit?
  • Do you want to move so you are closer to family?
  • Do you want to eat healthier meals?
  • What hobbies would you explore? Think back to high school or your childhood, what did you do with your free time? What were your high school electives?
  • Do you want to be in your yard, working in your garden?

When you are finished, use the blank lines below each kick ass idea to get even more specific. Go on more walks? Go on a walk through the neighborhood every day after dinner. Want to quit your job? Work on resume and research job openings over the weekend. Hoping to eat out less? Meal plan and shop for groceries every Sunday. Writing exactly how these goals would look in your day to day life is an integral part of implementing change.

Now, you have two very powerful lists at your fingertips. Check out “Make a Change, Part III: Make Room For Change” to learn how to set these ideas into motion.

Make a Change, Part I: Write Down Everything That Sucks About Your Life

As our lives continue to change, so do we, but not always how we hope to. Choices that were right for us at one point have lost their charm and we crave something different, but we’re at a loss as what to do about it.  In this three part series, you will learn to examine and address the problem areas in your life, dream up a life you would want to wake up to each morning, and learn what is necessary to make those changes a reality.

The first step is to write a list of everything that sucks about your life. Everyone has aspects of their lives that they dislike and want to change, but making those changes can feel overwhelming and we often give up before we even try. This feeling of defeat takes over when we have all these frustrated thoughts, but we never do anything about them or even directly identify them. By writing this list, you will begin to address these issues and start to take control of your life.

What should you include in this list? The massive problems as well as the itty bitty problems. Anything and everything that sucks about your life, even if you have no idea how you could fix it. Even if it seems silly. Here are a bunch of examples to get you thinking (some of which are from my actual list):

EVERYTHING THAT SUCKS ABOUT MY LIFE RIGHT NOW:
  • Not outside enough
  • Yelling at my kids too much
  • Boss is a douche
  • Watching hours upon hours of TV at night
  • No energy for sex
  • Living paycheck to paycheck
  • Eating too much junk
  • Bathrooms are always dirty
  • No time to do my hobbies
  • Feeling rushed in the mornings
  • Constantly distracted by my phone
  • Fighting with my spouse
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Tired of having roommates
  • My job is not fulfilling
  • Winters are too long where I live
  • Not enough ‘me’ time
  • Eating out too much
  • Overwhelmed by laundry
  • My commute is way too long
  • Don’t exercise enough
  • Want to travel more

Keep writing until you have it all out of your system. I have written many lists in my life, but I had never written a list like this before. There is something magical that happens when you take something from your brain and write it down. Ignoring your problems no longer feels like an option and you begin to imagine what it would be like to address these issues and start living a more intentional life.

Next up, Make a Change, Part II: Dream Up a Kick Ass Version of Your Life