“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West
What does your ideal life look like?
When I was growing up, my ideal life looking nothing at all like what my ideal life looks like now. I had this dream of being a high-powered corporate lawyer, fighting away the injustices of the world. Truth be told, my ideal life looked a lot like what I saw on the TV show Ally McBeal! I wanted to have her life, I wanted to be her. I decided then and there that my life choices were whatever led me down that path.
To me, that meant one of two things. Either I become a lawyer OR I become an actress and play the part of a lawyer because you know, that was basically the same thing.
When my family decided that becoming an actress was a dead-end job, I did the only thing I could – I went to University and I studied towards my Law degree. 5 years and two degrees into university, I finally arrived at Post-grad Law School and I HATED it with EVERYTHING I had inside of me. My life was ruined and everything I’d ever known until that moment was a lie.
I didn’t know what else to do so I spent a miserable year pushing through the misery while trying to obtain my law degree. You know what happened next? I FAILED! I FAILED THE WHOLE DEGREE and that was the first time I had ever failed at anything in my entire life. I was gutted!
The lesson I learnt
What could have ruined my life and plunged me into a deep depression was actually the best thing that could have happened. Okay, admittedly, I was devastated. I wasn’t used to failing but after a little bit of a cry (a few weeks of it), I dusted myself off and asked myself what now.
The following January I started my path towards my Masters degree in Social Development and three years later I graduated top of my class with a degree that I loved and feeling passionate about my life. I learnt a HUGE lesson. I learnt that life isn’t always what you expect it to be and sometimes, that’s the reward!
My ideal life ended up being completely the polar opposite of what I thought it was meant to be. Instead of fighting high-profile cases in a court room, I was working on measures to eradicate poverty. I was truly and honestly fulfilled and if I hadn’t become mentally drained after ten years in that field, I’d probably still be doing that.
What came next?
I decided a few years ago that I’d had enough of seeing poverty first hand on a day-to-day basis. I was starting to be depressed, my life was focused on others and their well-being and I myself was burnt out and exhausted. I moved into a fundraising position in a wildlife conservation non-profit and two months later I had to accept that I was done. I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to finally focus on me and doing something that was personal and about me.
In essence, I needed to be selfish a little bit and do something that put me in the driver’s seat and achieved goals related to my passion. Until now, writing had been something I did in my free time or as part of someone else’s plan. I had worked at empowering women, youth and children for years and my new role fundraising gave me the chance to write but I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write about.
On a weeks notice, I quit my job and decided to figure out what matters to me. I was lost but I was also empowered. I knew that the only way to find the path that truly makes me happy is to leap and not look back. Two years later, I’m following my dreams and doing what I love and I’ve never been happier. Sure there have been challenges but that’s life isn’t it?
Nothing about my life has been simple but it has all been in the right direction. What has mattered most to me is that I live a life I am passionate about and when my passions changed, I needed to change my field and find something that reflects who I am at the moment.
If you feel like you need a change but you aren’t sure what your own ideal life looks like, here are three very simple, basic steps that can help you gain clarity on this topic.
3 steps to get you to your ideal life!
Visualise what that life looks like
You’ve first and foremost got to visualise what you ideal life looks like. Figuring out what your ideal life depends on what makes you happy. If being a high-powered CEO is what motivates you, your ideal life is not going to be staying home with your baby. You’ve got to match what makes you happy to what you’re spending most of your time doing.
You’ve got to be clear on what you’re working towards so that you know exactly what direction to take in order to get there. When you close your eyes, what do you see in your ideal life? What do you see that makes you smile and feel at peace?
Organise yourself and draw up plans
Once you’re clear on the direction you’re going in, you’ve got to put the plans in place that will get you there. Set out step by step action plans that will enable you to move forward. You’ve got to set real and actionable goals to get you where you need to go. You can’t expect anything to come to fruition if you’ve not planned for it.
You’ve also got to set deadlines for yourself. Each goal you set has to have deadlines as well as a clear outline of HOW you’re going to realise that goal. Your goals can not be broad either, they need to be broken down into smaller ones because otherwise everything just seems too overwhelming and you might fail before you even try.
Realise your goals by setting deadlines and following through
When you’ve got your goals, action plans and deadlines set in place, all that’s left is getting started. If you’re not great at following through with your plans it really helps to have someone who keeps you accountable to what you’ve said you’re going to achieve. This can be a professional person that you’ve hired (like me) or it can be a friend, your partner or really anyone who wants to see you succeed.
What matters is that your plans don’t just stay as plans but that they become a reality. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t forget about your dreams or neglect them and just stagnate. The power is in your hands.
Your ideal life is waiting
Just be sure that your goals and dreams on paper reflect what is really in your head and don’t be afraid to visualise something that other people might think is ridiculous. What really matters in the end is that YOU are happy and that the life you live is reflective of who you are.
Other people might not understand but this isn’t their life and it’s not their journey. Do what makes you happy and live a life that leaves you feeling fulfilled.
Your ideal life is possible if you put plans into place and realise them!