Have you been feeling dissatisfied and restless? You don’t have to wait until a new year comes to make big changes in your life. Realizing that there’s no reason to wait for a particular milestone is the first step in getting out of a rut. The next steps below can also help.
Your Ideal Life
Think about what you truly want in your life. You may be tempted to write that you’d like early retirement on a private island and feel frustrated that this seems out of reach. However, consider that even the few people who can retire early on a private island are not necessarily happier than anyone else. Dig into what your fantasy represents. Is it financial freedom you’re craving, or more solitude?
Once you’ve taken a look at the big picture, trying drilling down. Make a list of the things you want to fill your life with. Be as specific as possible. Don’t say getting outdoors if what you really mean is more hiking. Once you’ve made the list, think about how you prioritize your time. It’s very common for people who do an exercise like this to realize that very little of their day to day life is given over to the things they consider most important, such as spending time with loved ones or making room for creative pursuits.
Perhaps you have a demanding job that you no longer enjoy. Maybe you simply fail to pay attention to how much time you spend scrolling through social media feeds or passing time in other ways that you don’t actually value. If you’re trapped in a life you no longer want because of your own inertia, how can you make changes?
You may find that not only will your family not starve if you take a lower-paying job, but they like having you around and less stressed out. Many people may feel the amount of debt they are carrying limits the lifestyle changes they can make. There are a number of good books on how to pay down debt in just a few years, and some strategies may be easier than you think. For example, if you have student loan debt, you can look into options for refinancing with a private lender. This could lower your monthly payments and leave you with more money to save toward other goals.
Inevitably, choosing one path closes the door on another. You love your job, but you work too many hours and you miss having time to play music. Nothing is more important to you than your family, but you miss the cycling trips you used to take or the novels you once had time to read. You might be surprised to find that minor adjustments can have a major effect. What if you left the office a little earlier most days, commuted by bus to work and read for the hour it took, or made a deal with your spouse in which you trade off taking care of the kids to allow the other to pursue a hobby or interest? You might even sit down as a family and talk about how you could better support one another.