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What could your life look like in 2015? In the second part of this three part series on Thinking Big, the focus is on creating a clear picture of how your life could be in five years time (for music lovers, this post was inspired by the song 5 Years Time by Noah and the Whale)
What were you doing in 2005? What was life like back then? What were the most important things in your life? What did you want your life to look like at the beginning of the next decade? One thing I’ve found for myself is that life was a lot different 5 years ago. A lot has changed, a lot has happened and I’ve learned many lessons (some easy, some pretty tough). I also know that creating a plan back then, along with a certain female country singer has helped me to make the most of my life.
Five years ago, I was very happy in my personal life and quite dissatisfied with my professional life. I was an accountant and couldn’t get excited or see the meaning in the work that I was doing. My department was struggling and shipping people off to anywhere projects could be found for long periods of time. At one point, I found myself in Minneapolis, working 14 hours plus a day, seven days a week, doing a repetitive task. I was out of shape, bored and missing my wife and friends back home. One night I drank most of a bottle of red wine, and found myself weeping into my pillow whilst listening to Sheryl Crow. It was time to change and start thinking bigger.
In 2005, I started to think about what life could look like in 5 years time. I realised that I couldn’t change everything overnight, but I started to formulate a picture of what my ideal personal and professional life could look like in 2010. Professionally, I knew that I wanted work that I enjoyed, that allowed me to work with interesting people and most importantly was meaningful. Personally I wanted to be a happier person, be able to react more calmly to life’s ups and downs, and to have enough time to enjoy life.
I started to get specific on each part of my life – career, family, health, financial, my community and my spiritual development. Some of the areas were easier than others to think through and visualise. I started with the question, what would be ideal in this aspect of my life in 5 years time? When I got stuck, which I did with the career question, I then asked how could I find out?
To answer the career question, I started to look around me at people who seemed to enjoy their careers. I asked them about the reality of their work – what they enjoyed and what made it meaningful for them. I also looked internally and started to ask myself important questions – what are my values, what gets me excited and passionate, what are my strengths, what DON’T I want from my career.
It took me a fair amount of time to work through each area and come up with an answer to the question of what would be an ideal situation in 5 years time. It wasn’t always easy to do and I was lucky to have support from a coach, my mentors, friends and family when I got stuck. Once I had the questions answered I’d developed a blue print for what life could be.
So, your challenge is to think about how life could be ideal at the start of 2015 in each of the following areas; your career, your family situation, your heath and mental wellbeing, the community you live in and your support system, and your spiritual understanding. Use the vision you created in the first post to help guide this process. I won’t pretend that this is easy or won’t take time. Get support, think it through, do some research, don’t get put off and think big about the possibilities.
So how does my life now compare to the plan I created in 2005? Well first, it certainly isn’t everything that I’d visualised. A lot happened between now and then including some unexpected and delightful opportunities. I used my vision as a compass to set the rough direction, rather than a map that had to be followed. However, I have found incredibly meaningful work, a much better balance in my life, more peace and the ability to react to external circumstances with more calm. Without Sheryl Crow and my 5 year plan I know that a lot of this wouldn’t have happened.
In the final post, the subject is taking action to start Thinking Big. Subscribe here to make sure you don’t miss it!