Changing my life: From Dodo to Dynamite in a Year
One Valentine’s Day, I decided to give myself the perfect gift. I decided to change my life.
Because if you’re going to love anyone, you have to love yourself first.
And I didn’t.
I hated myself, and I hated my life.
For years I’d become gradually more lost and dissatisfied with my pathetic achievements. I felt angry and frightened and trapped.
I suffered with insomnia and picked arguments with my poor bewildered partner on a daily basis. I smoked too much and stressed too much and gained weight faster than a blue whale on steroids. I cried and snarled and sulked and worried and wandered around the house saying, “I hate my life.”
Oh, I was just delightful to live with!
Our shop’s business was in decline and we needed to build up our online sales, but I was so miserable and despairing that I couldn’t settle to regular working and let the paperwork slide. We hadn’t had a holiday in years and our home looked like a hoarder’s paradise.
My partner’s health was suffering, our relationship was virtually non-existent and soon we were desperately in debt. On several occasions I was seriously tempted to get in the car and just drive away from all my worries. Once, I decided to do it. I actually planned what I would say, where I would go, how I would live. But when I imagined leaving my partner to face our problems alone, I just couldn’t do that to someone I love.
At this point, I decided it was time to take positive action to sort out the rest of my life.
The first step in changing my life
I started by realising that my need for change didn’t mean I had to leave – I could change the life I was leading until it made me happy.
I considered each aspect of my life and realised that many of my ‘problems’ were actually symptoms of my unhappiness – if I could sort out my life, they would get better. The two real problems were:
- I was working too hard
I loathed spending 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, desperately grubbing around trying to earn money while my partner ran the shop. I’m not a money person, it wasn’t work that gave me any satisfaction in itself, and anyway, we still weren’t earning enough to pay basic bills. I needed an effective way of earning a decent income. And right now, I needed a break.
- I wanted time to be creative
I’ve always believed I could write, but I’ve wasted years instead of developing my talent and getting published. I needed to make the time to be creative for my own pleasure – if I could achieve publication and success, that would be terrific, but the opportunity for self-expression was more important.
How I sorted my life out
I talked to my partner and we made a plan. We sold our shop and used the equity to pay the most pressing bills and catch up on our mortgage. We contacted everyone else we owed money to (and there were a LOT of them!) and told them what we could afford to pay each month. They all agreed – one even offered to accept less!!
And I started my Emily the Dodo blog, which made me much happier. But whenever I stopped working to write, I stopped earning money – and we were heading back to the same problems.
And so, on that Valentine’s Day, I decided the time had come. I was going to turn my life around – and I was going to give myself just one year to do it.
From Dodo to Dynamite in a Year
I set myself nine targets to improve the important parts of my life. I planned to rebuild my relationships, deal with my money problems, make time for writing, clear our cluttered house, improve my health, beat my addictions and take control of my life – all in one year.
So, did it work?
Yes! Well… kind of. Pretty well, actually. It was a huge challenge, but during that year I made a lot of progress towards a better life. My partner and I are now married, our money problems should be solved in a few more months, I’ve done far more writing, our house is much less cluttered, I’ve now lost over 60lbs of my excess weight, I’ve made some progress on fighting my addictions (though not as much as I’d have liked) and, best of all – I’m HAPPY.
I’m still working on self-improvement, but I’m now focusing on changing the way I do things, putting a more positive lifestyle in place rather than aiming at specific targets.
So instead of struggling to exist, I’m LIVING.
And Emily the Dodo will survive, no matter what the future has in store. I’m not going extinct just yet!
Want to know more? Read my Dodo Diary for updates!