The Established Way
The aspiration of many couples in the UK is to own their own house, have 2 kids, a car, holiday twice a year and enjoy whatever life offers them. Sometime this can include work. Other times it doesn’t. The life choices here have generally been: get educated, get a decent job, find a loving partner, buy a house, have a family, and get a car or two to run around in. Enjoyment is what you can do after you have earned enough to pay the mortgage and the various loans you owe to the bank and the credit card companies. All too often you have used someone else’s money to pay for the little rays of enjoyment … and so the debt black hole just gets deeper and deeper.
For years we are content with the simple, but rich rewards such a life gives us. And for many people this path is both satisfying and rewarding enough to carry on with once the mortgage and loans have been paid-off or the kids have flown-the-coop.
However, there are more and more of us out there that simply don’t swallow the established, ‘vanilla’ game plan. We just know that there is something else out there: a better, more fulfilling way of life. For some, the choices are obvious, for others it’s a gut feel and they need to test the waters to find out what it is that will satisfy that change-lust.
The point at which the ‘established’ way of life really gets questioned, is when you or somebody close to you has a life changing event, be it; empty nesting, separation, redundancy, retirement, or your company sale.
For me, it was a major car accident on my way home from an overseas trip. It made me realise that all the lobster and wine I was pampering myself with on my business trips to Boston were just my way of bribing myself to keep my nose to the grind-stone. If I kept going that way, I’d die early – either from too much wine or lobster, or a fatal car crash!
What bribes are you paying yourself to put up with the status-quo?
I realised there and then that I had to do something to change the path I was following. But how do you change your path? How can you climb the walls that border it or find a gap to escape through?
Being an analyst, I decide to research the subject.
The best way I have to describe the process is that it’s like a square-slide puzzle, where you have to shift the numbers around until you get them into their proper numerical sequence.
Fortunately there are some relatively straight forward ways of figuring out how you can go about this, solving the ‘finding a new path’ puzzle. Here are a handy dozen of them.
1. Start a Life Journal – an electronic or paper journal where you write the following points down and review them on a regular basis.
2. Establish the Big Picture – define what the 10 most important facets of your life are, and write them down.
3. Prioritise what is important to you now and what you think will be important to you in 5 years, 10 years and even 15 years time.
4. Write a paragraph on what each of those goals actually means to you.
5. What are the big things you going to have to do to get to those goals?
6. Where are you in terms of achieving those goals: 1, 3, 7, 10? (on a scale of 0-10). It’s zero if you haven’t started yet! How are you going to test the waters? How are you going to get started shifting from the zeros?
7. What do you need to do to shift your achievements along your chosen goal paths?
8. What are the 10 values you want to keep to – to keep you ‘honest’?
9. Who best epitomises those values? Those people are your value role models – your references. Tell your journal why there are. Find out what they did, that you like, and how they did it.
10. Accept that if you want to change, you will have to change how you do things.
11. What is the one, next thing you have to change to catalyse your change?
12. Find where you are going to meet like minded people. Those that have chosen a similar path. People you can discuss things with on a peer to peer basis. Maybe even a few of the role models you are seeking? Maybe you need to just bounce a few hypotheses around and see where they lead you? How are you going to do that?
If a lot, or all of this makes sense to you, you are on your way to being a Pluralist.
There are others just like you and me out there. Others with the same issues and similar aspirations. People you can share your ideas with. People who can and will share their ideas with you.