It’s been about six months since my Jack died, and his sister Pretty Girl is experiencing a new interest in the things that make Labradors happy; cuddling, eating and walking. She’s making me think that there are times you need to renovate your life.
When to Renovate Your Life
Essentially, your life is either doing well enough or not. If you’re doing well enough, you don’t have to do anything. You might like to tweak a little something here and there; have a bit of a cleanup and maybe redecorate.
But if your life is not doing well you might feel a bit bored or restless; you’re stuck in a rut, spinning your wheels, are becalmed. Whatever it is your life has become, it’s just not working for you. You need to do something, and it has to be something deeper and more structural to make a difference.
If you find that you would rather be dead than alive, it’s definitely time. If you feel this way, see a medical practitioner as your first step, because there could be a medical cause that can be corrected.
Why Renovate Your Life
Um, because you’re not happy.
In the sense that life isn’t giving you pleasure. You’re not content with your place in the universe, and certainly not joyful.
What to do to Renovate Your Life
When you’re stuck at the bottom of a deep dark rut, it’s often hard to know where to start to get back up and moving.
1. Figure Out Where You Want to Go
This is one of those times where you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to be.
This is what your Vision, Mission and Virtues are for – a vivid picture of your ideal life to work towards. Sometimes they’re hard to fix in place, so you might try to remember what your five-year-old self looked forward to, or imagine what your 90-year-old self wants to look back on.
2. Think About Your Priorities
Your life is an intersecting set of priorities: family, health, education, career, finances, spirituality, friends, and lifestyle to name a few.
If you work on them one at a time, it might be decades before any of it changes. If you work on them all at the same time, you might make some small gains, but it will still take a lot of time to see big results.
Instead, think about the things that are really important to you right now – and bear in mind that the things that worry you at 20 are not the same things that will worry you at 40. You can course correct anytime.
3. Set Some Goals
Almost everyone carries around a big list of things they want to do. Some people even go so far as to call it a Bucket List (of things to do before they die). Though you don’t often here about them systematically doing and ticking items off those lists.
Seemingly, Warren Buffet (the hugely wealthy Berkshire Hathaway guy) advises listing 25 things you really want to do. Then work only on your top five until they’re done (because the bottom 20 just distract you from what’s most important).
Combine five goals with your priority areas, and you should be able to make some significant progress. For example, taking a daily walk with your loved ones will improve your health, strengthen your relationships and help build your finances (by reducing your medical and entertainment costs).
4. Start Working On Your Goals
Some people will be happy having just done the thinking. But nothing is going to change until you start making those changes (you won’t lose wight or need smaller clothing if you don’t change the way you eat and move).
Completing Your Life Renovation
It never happens.
And nor should it.
If you’ve ever renovated or redecorated property, you’ll know that there is always something that comes up that needs to be taken care of. It might be that the foundations aren’t sound, that you accidentally make things worse and have to take it back a layer, or just that it doesn’t turn out the way you expected and you need to change the colour scheme.
One thing always leads to another. And then another. And another after that.
But the important thing is to keep moving in the direction you want to go. And periodically, you’ll need to take a step back and decide whether it’s still the right place and priorities or whether they need to change.
So you go back to step one, and think about where you want to go next…
I know I make this sound a lot easier than it is, but it’s like quitting smoking. If anyone ever told you how hard it can be, you’d never even try.
But like quitting, it’s not going to be as hard as you imagine.
And you’ll be so much happier when you do.