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Perhaps you've rediscovered some hygee or ikigai moments for your days (if not, check our Part 3 - Happiness and well-being), and you're doing your appreciation lists (if not, check out Part 2 - Raising your energy). You could be already working on changing beliefs that no longer serve you (for more details see Part 1 - The secrets to a life well lived). While you generally feel happier and more balanced, you still feel like there's something missing.
The things that make you happy often seem temporary and you still have to go back to real life after all. This could indicate that your life is out of balance (the topic of Part 5, stay tuned), perhaps focusing too much on one aspect such as career leaving health, relationships and what excites you to languish a little. It could also simply be the temporary nature of this type of happiness. Not that we should forget about all the little pleasures that make life worth living. On the contrary, they are your thing, your ikigai that will lift you out of bad spirits and set you back on the path.
Many of the things that we assume will bring us long-term happiness, such as money, a big house or a fancy car, in reality only make us happy for a while. In fact, often these things bring more problems than they solve. For instance, now that Fred has a fancy car, he'll need to pay fancy insurance. After not too long, Fred will start to drive like his grandmother (after seeing the costs of repair) and it has also become the target of thieves. Similarly, money is also the target of thieves and now the money needs careful management itself in order to not just disappear.
There's a fundamental difference between these temporary pleasures (nice as they might be in the short term), and being happy at your core; happy with your every day life. While winning the lotto might make you happy for a time, sustained happiness depends on having a deeper, fulfilling purpose that is meaningful for you.
If you're not sure what that is, you're not alone. More people than would like to admit have even pursued their dreams and gotten a "good job", only to wake up months or years down the line to find out that it wasn't quite the dream, or that the dream has changed. Just because you chased a dream and succeeded in it, doesn't mean that you have to stick to this one dream for the rest of your life. Your next dream is awaiting you, calling you forwards.
So the question becomes, "How do I discover my next dream while I maintain a marriage, kids, and earn income (basically keep my life in balance)?"
The short answer is start from where you are. Let me explain...
How to start from where you are
Whether you are feeling dull about your current life or simply looking for the next thing, starting from where you are is always advised. When people instantly throw away their jobs, hobbies or even family, there are usually hard times ahead. Why not start from where you are and ease your way into the future.
Firstly, let's figure out all the aspects or dimensions of your current life and where there's room for exploration and expansion. To help scaffold our thinking, a lot of the roles, duties, projects and creativity in our life can fall under the four categories of LIFE:
- Life quality - (home and work environments, and things we like to have such as house, car, piano, etc.)
- Introspective or Internal - (health, well-being, meaning in life, vision, learning and growth, etc.)
- For others - (work, family, social, community, etc.)
- Excites me - (your next dream, hobbies, adventures, holidays, new things to do/try, etc.)
As a bonus round, are there life areas under any of these headings that you'd like to try out, experiement with or spend a little time on (even if only to reasearch and find out)? Add them to the list under the relevant LIFE category.
Researching a new area: For example, if you want a relationship or a baby and don't have one, what's it like to have one? How do you maintain one? What kind of things could you do together? And so on.
A guide to creating a vision for each of your LIFE areas
I'm guessing that you are an an age where there are roles and responsibilities in your life. Great! If not, you have more radical and riskier options that you can take to discover your passion sooner (with little money in your pocket, but happy to work hard). For the rest of us, there are ways of evolving into your passion area without breaking your current reality.
A useful way to create a vision for each of your LIFE areas is through journalling and reflection (the following activity).
For each LIFE area you listed in the previous activity, write your answers to these questions:
* What do I believe about this area? (achievable? shame? guilt?)
* What, ultimately, do I want for this area? What's my vision for this area?
* Why do I want that? What will I gain if I achieve it? What will I lose by not achieving it?
* What do I need to do to get it? Small baby steps? Start a project? Develop habits or systems?
For dimantling the negative beliefs from the first question, see Part 1 - The secrets to a life well lived. The second question is your overall vision and end goal for this area. The third question is excellent to refer to when you doubt yourself or start asking, "why am I doing this, anyway?". The fourth and final question we'll work on in Part 5 - How to bring your vision into reality. Sign up for early notice of this article as part of the Future Forward crew.
Who am I becoming?
So often when we start visioning our future and where we'd like to be in some near or distant future, we can suddenly drop back into the reality that we've already created of our current job, current problems, and current life. Not only does this this make forward progression difficult, but it attempts to use willpower alone to bring about changes. Using willpower, no matter how strong you think yours is, will always fail in the end because you haven't actually adopted the change in your mindset, or being.
So often, we expect reality to change and then we can change our thinking or mindset because of that reality change. If you've lived through the pandemic of the 2020's you'll know that an ill-prepared changing reality isn't always the best thing. If you look at lottery winners 1-5 years later and they will very often be back to their old level of wealth (or even worse off) because the sudden change in their reality didn't actually change their thinking or mindset. In summary, a changing reality won't often change your mindset at all, and you'll actually need to work extra hard just to keep up with the mindset changes needed.
There must be a way to change your mindset first and then move seamlessly into your new reality shift (and there is).
When asking yourself, "Who am I becoming?", all of the current problems can dissolve away to focus solely on becoming the upgraded version of you. We are all complex and evolving people with several roles to play in life, making this question one you can ask yourself before every meeting, activity or daily happenings, can change the way you act and make decisions which in turn means you experience new situations (which helps to change thinking and beliefs). Perhaps you are becoming a loving father that is a role model for others. Think of this loving father version of you before making decision about home time versus working time or before you greet your children. What would the loving father version of me do/decide? What would the role model father version of me do/decide?
Even if you are in a completely different job from where you'd like to be, this question and version of you can be applied. Let's say you have an office job but you want to be a doctor. What does a doctor do every day? They research and read up on the latest therapies and medicines, and when meeting with patients, they problem solve. They take a history or gather background information through questioning, perhaps look at other measurements and information and come up with a technical solution that they think will solve the problem. They then need to break down all that technical jargon for their client to understand. They often have a bit of teaching role for their patients and other doctors. All of these daily tasks can be applied in many other situations and jobs when abstracted. In this way, you'll still be practicing the apporach that doctors take to reasearch, individuals, problems and teaching others.
For each of those people you are becoming, what do they actually do in their day-to-day lives?
* How do they solve problems?
* How do they communicate with people?
* How do they make decisions?
* What daily habits or routines do they have?
* What do they believe? (about happiness, success, their work, etc.)
Spend time each week researching and thinking about the person you are becoming.
Put reminders in your day or productivity system to remind you of who you are becoming that day in that moment.
Meditate or journal on who you are becoming, imagining a day in the life of ...
When you have a vision for your LIFE going forwards and work on who you are becoming, your happiness, sense of progress and improvement all raise and keep raising with each piece of time and thinking put in this direction of thinking. Over time you won't have to think who you are becoming because you'll suddenly realise, you have become.
Belinda Allan is an education advisor who is dedicated to empowering lifelong learners. By exploring the intersection of technology, personal development and learning futures, Belinda uses her expertise in education, IT and AI to guide individuals in creating the course or training program of their dreams. With a focus on how AI can drive productivity and well-being in the ever-changing landscape of education and work, Belinda will help you unlock your full potential.
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