So the whole world has been on lockdown in varying amounts, but for the UK its been about 8 weeks now – nobody could possibly have predicted that we would have a period of our lives where everything we knew and were accustomed to literally stopped.
There’s no doubt that it has caused its own challenges but it has also created opportunities for us to discover a new way of life – with no shops open, no places to go, we have had to be resourceful and adapt our routines and habits and for some discover a calmer, less busy, more peaceful way of life.
Life has pressed pause for a while and given us a time to reflect. Is this the wake up call we all need ?
Time To Reflect
I have to confess reflection to me was something you see in the mirror or a word bandied around by new age gurus up until a few years ago. Now it’s something I do regularly – take time to think (usually on my morning walks) what has gone right over the past week? Am I living the life I want and if not why not? What could I have done better and how, and what my plans are for the coming day, week, year.
People that know me now say I am great at planning and organising – but it wasn’t always that way. I thought planning was boring. Like most people, beyond planning a wedding or annual holiday I never really thought too much about the bigger picture – my whole life.
In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman I was more a “fly by the seat of your pants kinda girl ”. I was kind of disorganised – okay I’ll be honest – not kind of – VERY disorganised. To this day it remains a mystery to me how I have managed to bring up two children without any major mishaps ( some of the minor things may have been forgotten ie: World Book day dressing up cobbled together the night before or books returned late to the library) but on the whole most things got done in a slap dash way!
So I got through life in a haphazard way, like most people I’ve always had goals and dreams but no real plans in place to make them happen – I was so busy dealing with the day to day routine – work, home, organise kids that I never took time to reflect, think ahead and really plan as to what I wanted my life to look like long term.
Until about 10 years ago I was told I was “drifting” by a good friend and given an amazing book – Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy – the key premise being that when you look back over your life – what do you want to have achieved ? How do you want to have lived? This really resonated with me and since then I reflect and plan ahead, always with the bigger picture in mind. Goals such as a bigger house, a holiday of a lifetime road-trip across California, and launching a business have been achieved and day to day life has become a lot easier than constantly winging it!
So, what does the life you want for yourself look like? Are you heading in the right direction to get it ? If you are not heading in the right direction – you can always change course – create a road map for life. After all you wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a destination in mind would you?
I think no one could disagree that at the end of our road we would all want to have led happy lives – how we get there, the events along the way and what we each define as happiness will be different but the required end result is the same.
So how do you use the enforced break from life to plan ahead and ensure you are going in the right direction? To ensure the life you look back on will be a happy one ? Well a good place to start is to ask yourself..
What has made you happy in Lockdown?
A lot of people have talked about returning to normal (whenever that may be) – but what is normal? Normal for some people may have been constant stress, rushing everywhere and never finding time to spend on things that make you really happy. So I would ask you to reflect – What parts of your life to do want to return to or not ? Which parts of lockdown that have made you happy do you want to keep going forward?. You may not be able to implement huge changes straight away but just thinking about what you want from life you can start to make small changes that will add up.
So if there are parts of lockdown that have surprised you, that you have really enjoyed, take time today to make a list. For some this may be really simple such as discovered a new hobby, walked everyday, played family games, cooked more. For others it may trigger bigger goals and aspirations such as changing career paths, or even downsizing to retire earlier and have more quality of life.
It really doesn’t matter how big or small as long as you identify what really matters to you and then think through the sequence of events you set plans in place so you can continue doing it.
One example might be – Spending time with kids make me ( and them) Happy – Commuting takes time I could be with family – Possible Solutions – Find job closer to home / Find a homework opportunity – Closer to home might mean less Pay – Look at finances to see how I can make this happen – What am I currently spending on that is less important to me than spending time with my children?
Of course this is a very simplified version and families have to consider many factors but once you decide to start making changes your mind will start focusing on them and you will start seeing ways to make them happen even if they are small changes at first.
So 3 steps
Reflect on where you are in life
Decide what makes you happy and what you want your life to look like long term
Then put your brain to work, what small changes can I make timewise or financially to achieve the life I want?
If any of the above has resonated with you but not sure where to start I would love to help – drop me a line at Julie@redsquirrelfinancial.co.uk I’m a trained Financial Coach, member of the Initiative For Financial Wellbeing and dedicated to helping people with their finances to have happier / best lives. All coaching is free during Coronavirus.