I recently re-read Third Act Trousseau, by Kay Noske, and I was saddened by her undertone of wistful regret but inspired by her choice to gleefully create a new life starting with the things she missed out on. And a new set of matching china.
So often in life, we postpone things to a mythical proto new life sometime in the future. We say things like when I:
- Lose the weight I’ll buy new clothes.
- Find a life partner I’ll eat at that fancy restaurant.
- Get a new home I’ll make it comfortable and beautiful.
- Secure a new job it’ll all be ok.
But we never sit down and plan how we will lose the weight, find a partner, make a comfortable home or find a new job. It’s a rare person that:
- Increases their confidence by dressing their current body shape beautifully.
- Expands their horizons by eating delicious food in excellent restaurants on their own.
- Reshapes the place they live as a home they love.
- Focuses on what’s good about their workplace and uses the rest as inspiration for finding somewhere better.
We just put it on our wish list and forget about it, as if having noted a passing fancy (or New Year’s Resolution) is sufficient to make it happen. It’s a shame that it’s not that easy, but the things that are worth having rarely are. Nothing is going to happen until you make it. While it is never too late to make yourself a new life, if you want to avoid sharing Kay’s wistful regret, now is the best time to start.
1. Make a Firm Decision to Create That New Life
I know from my experience that sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom before you can start clambering back up again. However, my friend Katy just gives herself a stern talking to, then pivots and moves full steam ahead in her new direction. Say, for example, you decide that your new life is that of a rocket scientist, you have to understand that where you are now is not where you want to be. You have to acknowledge that becoming a rocket scientist is going to be difficult. It’s going to take time. You might have to leave your family and friends and move somewhere else. There will be other sacrifices you have to make, but if you know you are a rocket scientist in waiting, you know that the result will be worthwhile.
Affirmations can be useful for helping you create this new life, not because they are magic spells or anything like that, but because they keep your wishes front of mind so that when the time comes to make decisions you make them with your rocket scientist head firmly in place.
2. Seek Competent Advice
You will probably not successfully create your new life if you don’t get competent advice. You don’t become a bonafide rocket scientist by having business cards made up. You need to take advice about how to get there from where you are. You may need to take some bridging courses before you can get into rocket scientist school. And when you get into school, you have to learn stuff and pass exams and so on, and if you don’t want to do that you might find that joining an amateur rocket society is more your thing. But you have to talk to someone who knows.
Or, if you want to do something more complicated, like bake the perfect sponge cake, you might look for a good recipe book, follow some food bloggers, enter competitions or go to a cake making class.
3. Set a Goal
If you don’t set a goal(s) for your new life, you won’t know when you have achieved it. Graduating from rocket scientist school is quite a clear goal, and you can make it SMART by adding specifics like dates and pass marks and so on. But baking the perfect sponge cake is going to need different details, like what exactly the perfect sponge cake looks like, and when you want to be able to make it, for example, to enter in your local agricultural fair.
4. Make a Plan
Once you have your new life goal(s) you can make a realistic plan for achieving it. Again qualifying as a rocket scientist has a built-in plan, but the perfect sponge might require you bake one sponge each week. And it could include finding (or making) the perfect jam. It’s useful to build in review checkpoints as well; maybe after a stipulated number of sponge cake failures you might like to try a different brand of flour, or have your oven serviced or test out some other variable.
5. Implement the Plan
A plan by itself is wish list territory, and it’s easy to feel as though you have made progress by making a plan, but you have to implement it before your new life will blossom. Step-by-step, (or cake-by-cake) you have to follow your plan. It can be very disheartening when you don’t see quick results, and this is the time to go back to step one and remind yourself why you wanted to change in the first place.
I can testify that making any kind of life change can be immeasurably difficult, but I do not regret for even a millisecond, the struggle to quit smoking, to get an education, or publishing my books. All of these were hard-won victories that give me courage in the face of each change that brings me new life. Do you have any life-changing achievements that you are proud of?