Have you had yet another one of those days when the car wouldn’t start, the kids wouldn’t stop fighting and your boss blamed you yet again for someone else’s mistake? Are you starting to wonder how you ever got here and, more importantly, how you can get out of here? There’s a saying that you should try to create a life for yourself that you don’t need to take a vacation to get away from. While that might actually be too tall of an order–everyone needs to run away now and again–there are certainly things you can do to make your life closer to your ideal.
Identify the Problem
The first step is more complex than it appears on the surface because often, what seems like the obvious problem really isn’t the problem. You may think you need a career change when what you really need is just a new job, or you may think you need to move to a new city when you actually just need to move out of your apartment and buy a house. Take some time to identify what is underneath your dissatisfaction. Talking to friends and loved ones, writing in a journal, and working with a counselor or life coach are all ways to get a better idea of what you’re after.
While you’re pondering what it is you really want, do the easy part: declutter and streamline your life. Start going through all those boxes and drawers you haven’t had the heart to look in for years. Ruthlessly purge your closet of everything you’re going to wear again someday. Spring clean, even if it’s the dead of winter. Get your finances in order as well. Make a budget. Figure out how you can spend less money. Boost your retirement savings. Refinance your student loan so that you’re paying less each month, and invest that money instead. Think of all of this as clearing out cobwebs to make way for your new life.
Once you’ve identified what you want, you need to take steps to get it. Goal setting and self-care techniques to minimize the stress of it all are great, and if that’s always worked for you, you should keep going. However, sometimes the idea of goals can sound a little too achievement-oriented or feel too much like being at work. If this is the case, think instead of terms of objectives. What do you need to accomplish? What kind of time frame are you looking at? What are the things you need to do monthly, weekly, and daily to get there?
Maybe you’ve decided you really do need a new career. Your list might include taking some classes, doing some networking and revising your resume. Maybe what you want is less concrete, such as spending more time with your family. In that situation, look at your schedule and start thinking about what obligations you can get rid of and what you can build in its place. Drop the weekend volunteer gig and take everyone camping instead. What’s most important here is to come up with specific, achievable solutions.