Beware of the tigers: Create a plan to change your life and hack your way through the jungle
Do you want to change your life?
It’s a jungle out there. You’ll have to take some protective clothing and mosquito ointment, don’t forget a stash of provisions to keep you going, you’ll need a map to find your way – oh, and look out for the tigers!
Setting out to change your whole life can be like mounting an expedition through uncharted jungle. All around you are obstacles you’ll need to get past, things which can tangle you up and hold you back.
You don’t know exactly what’s out there or even where you’ll end up, but you know it’s not gonna be a walk in the park. You’ll need to be intrepid, determined and ready to face whatever comes your way – but most of all, you’ll need to be prepared, so it’s important to plan carefully before you start out.
You’ll need to think about how you’ll support your lifestyle as you make gradual changes. That’s not a reason to stay where you are forever, too afraid to make the first move, but it is a reason to be cautious and think things through before you start.
You don’t want to set out on your journey on a whim and have a wonderful time but return to find your house has been repossessed while you were away. Somehow you have to pay those bills, maintain your relationships and retain the good parts of your current life, without knuckling under and putting off your great adventure for another year – one that will never come.
You’ll have to find a way of keeping biting comments from getting under your skin. Sarcastic remarks and negative attitudes can’t help you on your journey, and they can be a real irritation!
If you want to try something new, something you have no qualifications, experience or knowledge to help you with, some people are sure to try to discourage you by pointing out your problems. And they may be right – but if you don’t at least give it a shot, you may regret it forever.
If you’ve thought your plan through properly, you’ll know how you can accomplish what you want to achieve and you can avoid letting other people persuade you to turn back.
The chances of success will be greater if you include some incentives for reaching part-way targets, so build these into your plan for changing your life.
Stopping to refresh and reward yourself will make your task easier. If you can actually see improvement as you go, you’ll be likely to reach your goals more quickly and with less effort.
It’s amazing how satisfying it can be to reach the first mini-goal on your list!
Most of all you’ll need a plan – a set of directions for getting to the right place in the way you want. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?
Your life improvement plan will give you the opportunity to review your progress and ensure you don’t go off on the wrong track.
Once you’ve taken the time to assess your current situation and decide what you want, here’s how to create your plan:
Step 1: Focus on one or two important goals first
Of course, when you analyse every part of your life, you’ll find there are many things you’d like to change, but try to start with the most urgent or most important.
Step 2: Communicate
The next stage is to talk your plans through with family or friends, get some more ideas, work out how your plans would affect other people and what support you can count on.
Other people may feel they know better what’s right for you, but they can’t get inside your head. However, they may help you to be realistic about your plans, have suggestions that you’ll like better than your original ideas, or have the experience to give you good advice on aspects of your journey.
At this point, be prepared to listen to negative comments, but counter them by looking for alternative solutions and ways to get around objections, rather than assuming every problem is a reason not to try to improve your life.
After all, if everything was fine already and there was no need to make changes, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?
Step 3: Get real and do your research
Before you take the wrong action, you need to decide whether your targets are practical – could you change your life, or are you just building castles in the air?
Take the time to work out the logistics of your plans properly, instead of dreaming:
- How much would it cost?
- How many of those would I be likely to sell?
- Where can I find the information about that?
- Would I need to take a training course?
- How would that affect my family?
- What would we live on while I was doing that?
- How would I find clients?
- What would happen at Christmas?
- How much would I be able to borrow / could I pay it back?
Add up the figures, get accurate estimates, research any legal information you’ll need to know, work out how long things will take to happen etc.
Step 4: Change your life!
Now that you’ve worked out what you really want, talked it through, calculated the costs and practical aspects, and created a realistic plan, there’s only one thing left to do –
JUST DO IT.
Take a big breath and take the first step on your journey to change your life.
What about the tigers?
No matter how much you plan, there will be hidden dangers and major problems you couldn’t have foreseen. It’s always wise to keep back a contingency fund to deal with whatever’s lurking in the undergrowth – you may be certain you’ll need it!
If you’re planning to change your life in a very dramatic way, it’s also a good idea to have a Plan B in case your original decision turns out to be a seriously bad choice. Keep your options open for as long as you can, and try to develop a flexible attitude to help you to roll with the punches.
Who knows, the tigers may turn out to be much smaller than you expected!