Where are you? Where do you want to go? And how the heck do you get there?
Today I wanted to help you get an assessment of your current situation. Whether good or bad. And also where you want to go, where you want to be. It doesn’t matter how good you are with direction, how disciplined you are, your perseverance, whatever. If you don’t know where you are, you will never get to where you want to be.
This reminds me of an analogy I heard on The Survival Podcast by Jack Spirko. I’ll add my own details, but you’ll get the point. So before a ship even leaves its port, the ship’s captain plots a course for its destination port. To do that, the captain must know where he is currently. And for the purpose of this analogy, the ship does not have any GPS navigation equipment. Back to the story. The captain knows that if he is in Norfolk, Virginia and he wants to go to the port in Dover, England, he must plot a northeast course across the Atlantic and go through the English Canal before arriving in Dover. He only knows that because he knows where he is to begin with. If he were actually leaving a port in Argentina, but thought he was leaving Norfolk, he would plot that same course. He thinks he’s in Norfolk. Except this time, he would really be confused when he ended up in Nigeria. Where are all the pubs and fish-n-chips?! Knowing where you are currently makes all the difference in plotting the course for your destination.
So where are you?
Where are you in life? In your finances? Are you a cog in the machine, so to speak? Have you broken free of the machine? Think about where you are in life. I mean really think about it. Are you happy where you are? Do you know how you got there? I know some will say it’s the government’s fault I’m in this or that situation. It’s because of that bully in 3rd grade that used to beat the crap out of me, which made me how I am and now no one will hire me to do anything other than flip burgers. It’s because my husband or wife left me. It’s because I never had a dad. It’s because this, it’s because of that. What about you? What have you done to put you where you are? No one in this world has more influence on you than you. I’m not saying that bad crap doesn’t happen to us, believe me, I know it does! But the blame game can cloud up our skies so we can’t see the stars by which we navigate. So without the blaming, ask yourself, “where am I and where do I want to go?” So a better question than “what have you done?” is “what are you going to do about it? ”
It doesn’t matter why you’re in the job you’re in. It matters only that you are there. If you love your job, you are the envy of so many people! That’s awesome! Keep rocking on with it. If you hate your job or just would really rather be doing something else, get on a path toward that something else. Don’t go in tomorrow and quit and then figure it out. Do it smart. But be working toward getting out of there.
How about your finances? Are you in debt? As I’ve said before, the first thing to do is to stop digging yourself deeper. Stop using your credit cards. Once you take that step, the very next logical step is to start paying off all the debt. Again, I’ll mention the Debt Snowball because I think it’s the absolute best way to pay off multiple debts. How about a little cash on hand, an emergency fund. When something unexpected happens, an emergency fund will save you instead of a credit card. How about savings? Are you putting money toward your retirement? How about where you live vs. where you want to live? Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or rural; is that where you want to be? If not, start working towards getting to where you want to live.
Where do you want to be?
Get a piece of paper and make a list of things in your life; things you like and things you don’t like. Fill up the list with as many things as you can think of, both positives and negatives. And really try not to lean too far in either direction. Try to make it a fair assessment as possible and then if one side is a little heavier than the other, so be it. That’s where you are. Looking pretty good or not so much, this is your starting point. If it’s looking heavy on the positives side, great. Just start pulling over more of the negatives. If it’s looking a little dim, now you know what you have to work with. Instead of an abstract view of “my life could be better,” you now have solid points to work on. And let me tell you from experience, that’s a lot better than just trying to feel your way through.
So how do you get there from here?
Now on a separate piece of paper, write down where you want to be in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. Or longer if you want to. For every negative on your first sheet, start bringing it over to the positive side by writing plan for it, just a sentence or two or just bullet points. Be reasonable though. Don’t write that you want to own a home on 80 acres next year if you’re in a bunch of debt and currently only making $20K a year. But you could say that you’ll be working to pay off that debt while you get a better paying job. Those are reasonably achievable. That’s working toward your goal. Just don’t set the bar too high that you’ll fail and lose heart and quit. But at the same time, do not set that bar too low either because you’ll never know what you could have actually achieved.
If you’re sick of your job, get a new one. Don’t pigeon hole yourself. If you hate your line of work, don’t just go get the same kind of job. If taking a class will help you get into something you really want to do, then do it. If that means saving up a few hundred dollars in the next six months to do, do it. Write it down, that’s part of your plan.
The time line is important, don’t forget that. Don’t just write that you want a better job in the next five years. Write down the steps you’ll be taking to get that job in the next year. Furthermore, you may want to break up the first year into quarters or even months. Like “in this first quarter, I want to look into night classes for welding at the community college, start saving the money for it and learn what vegetables grow well here and start a garden.” Done. “By the end of Q2 I want to have that $300 debt on blank paid off.” Done. These are very specific goals with specific time lines. They will keep you focused and on target.
Well, I hope that I’ve given you some ideas today that can help you or someone you know. Hopefully I’ve motivated you to stop wishing and to start doing. You are the key here. If you want to lessen your reliance on the systems, having a clear plan of how to do so is the first step.
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Until next time,