Money is weird.
Getting money is even weirder. And by weird, I mean oxymoronically frustrating and annoying. You want it, you need it, and yet you hate it for holding you back, keeping you from doing the things you love, or landing you with no food to eat. That’s your first problem, and mine too. I was thinking about money all wrong. The constant pressure I felt from my finances left me with a hatred towards the very thing I wanted to get more of, and it created a really confusing, negative mindset.
How many of you get sick when you think of your debt? How many of you live from paycheck to paycheck, counting everything you buy to make sure you’ll have enough to afford the necessities? Ick. That’s no way to live. In this post I am going to share with you my tips and tricks on how to get your money issues under control so you can stop worrying about the financial debt monster.
Money is weird. But you don’t have to hate it!
So where should we begin?
Step 1 | The first thing you need to do is sit down and have a long talk with yourself.
Get honest about your relationship with your finances. If you can’t admit that you have a problem, you can’t work towards improving your situation. If you know you overspend, acknowledge it! If you aren’t good with prioritizing funds, that’s ok! By realizing that something needs to change, you can begin taking the first steps to getting into a better financial position in life.
After having this pragmatic intervention with yourself, you are going to need some tools.
Collect the following:
- Colored highlighters or markers (At least 6)
- Your bank statement from the last three months
- Your cellphone
- A calculator
- A yummy beverage
Once all of the supplies are gathered, proceed to step 2
Step 2 | Tally your spending
Go through your bank statement a write down all the withdrawals made from your account within the last three months. Exclude transfers and deposits. Neither will count for this step. Only focus on money that has left your possession in exchange for goods or services. Write these all down in a neat little list with three columns. One will be for the date of the withdrawal. The second column will be for the name of the item. And the last column will be for the amount spent. I know this step can be scary, but it’s like pulling off a band aid. You just gotta do it! After you have all the things written down, add them up with a calculator and write down the total. For the example below I made up a mock spread just to give you an idea of how it should look.
Step 3 | Tally your earnings
Next, go through your bank statement and write down all of the deposits made into your account in the last three months. This means money that came into your possession. It could be from allowance, a paycheck, odd jobs, or questionable sexual favors performed for money which is probably definitely qualified as prostitution but you don’t want to talk about it because everything is fine and you feel fine and he gave you fifty bucks to bounce on a big blue ball and you’d have to be crazy not to accept that kind of check! Ahem…no matter the source of the deposit, tally these all together and just like before, write down the total underneath or around the total from expenditures.
Step 4 | Find the difference
Maaaath! Yep, more math. Don’t worry, we’re not done with the calculator yet either. Subtract the amount of the withdrawals from step one from the amount of deposits in step two. This will let you see how much of your income you spend in a three month span. Depending on how good or bad you are with your finances, this could be a relieving number, or a terrifying number. And if you clicked this post, chances are it’s more on the terrifying end. I did this step and ended up with a negative number. It’s ok. That’s why you’re here. Take a sip of your delicious beverage. Continue to step five.
Step 5 | Categorize the expenditures
Go back to the first list you made. This is where you get to have fun with your highlighters. This is by far the best step. Go through and highlight with one color all your food expenditures. With another color highlight all your car expenditures. Another color for rent. Another for phone. Another for fun/entertainment. Another for subscriptions. You can separate this step into as many categories you want. The point is that you learn where most of your money is going. Do you spend it all on eating out with friends? Do you have too many subscriptions? More than you thought you did?! Take a sip. Continue to step six.
Step 6 | Tally each color
Add up all the pink costs and put them into a category. Then tally all the other pretty colors into separate categories. For this step I color coded the name of the category with the color I used to highlight the costs. This will really give you the big picture of where most of your money is going. For me, my biggest category was bills. Obviously. We all spend a fortune on bills. That’s inevitable. But where are your other high categories? Did you spend $1000 on eating out at restaurants within three months? Maybe that’s a bit too high for your salary range. Maybe you need to cut back on that. So after you have each color coded category totaled, add all the categories together. It should match the number from step 1. If it doesn’t, you did the math wrong. Go back and recount. If it does match, move on to step 7. As you can see below, I am bad at math, and only human. I hope your calculations look neater than mine.
Step 7 | Cry a lot
Step 7 | Designate funds
How much do you want to spend in each category? This is where the budgeting part comes into play. Make a hypothetical spending allotment for the coming month. Want to spend only $60 eating out next month? Allot it. Want to save $200? Allot it. Once money is allotted to savings it cannot be touched. It is spoken for. That money hypothetically does not exist anymore. That’s the point of savings. Likewise, if you have money in your account but know it will be used for your new car you need to buy, your next months rent, or any other big expense, it is untouchable. So just because your savings account says $5600 doesn’t mean you have $5600 of usable money. That money is spoken for. It is up to you how to divide and designate your money. For example, I have money set aside for a new car, travel, apartment spending, an emergency fund, etc.
Step 8 | Create your envelopes
The last step, and another fun one, is creating your envelopes. You can do this as a bullet journal spread or just jot it down on a piece of spare paper. Draw an envelope for every category you have a color for. Write down the name of the category along with the allotment you created in step 7. As you spend that allotment, fill in the envelope. Example:
For example, if you want to keep your entertainment/fun spending below $100 for the month, make an envelope with ten markings on the side like a ruler. As you spend that money, fill in each row with the color you chose. When the envelope is fully colored, that means you are out of money for that category and are cut off from spending more.
You can, however, take money from one category and apply it to another. So if you ran out of money for monthly food, you can take money off your entertainment/fun envelope. To do this, simply color in the rows in the entertainment/fun envelope with the colors of the food envelope. That way you will know you spend that extra money in another category.
Also, if you have extra funds at the end of a month, you can roll that over into the next month or save it, depending on how you’re feeling. So if you have a $100 allotment for entertainment/fun and only spend $60, you can roll over the $40 to the next month so you can spend $140 total, or you can save the $40 and put it towards one of your larger payments like bills or a new car. When you have system down, transfer the final draft into your planner of choice. In the example below I have shown what the budget envelopes would look like as well as what the saving envelopes would look like as you continue to save money and fill in the envelopes.
Budgeting is sort of like babysitting yourself. When you think about it, you have to keep your eye on yourself at all times or else you’ll end up drawing on the walls with crayons, or in this case, spending all your money on candy. A good babysitter wouldn’t allow either to happen. So this is really a lesson in discipline. It is about being intentional with every expenditure, of being aware of where your money is going and how often. If the babysitter analogy didn’t resonate with you, consider it like a boss running a business. A good boss knows what each of his employees is doing and at what time. An unsuccessful boss has no idea what is going on in his business and acts surprised when the company loses money. You have to own this shit, and reign yourself in when you know you’re running off budget.
Was this post helpful? Would you like to see more finance posts in the future? Let me know in the comments down below, and also let me know if you have any other tips and tricks for budgeting!
Take care, and don’t forget to take your medication!
Recently my life has revolved around self improvement. After going through “tower” energy–which for those of you who do not follow tarot, means a huge shakeup that levels everything you knew down to the foundation so that you can build something up stronger–my focus was on fixing myself. The process of healing became my raison d’etre. But now that I feel my healing is coming to an end, I am left with a confounding feeling of “what do I do now?”
If you’ve spent so much time focusing on one thing, when it ends, you might end up feeling a little lost, or like you’ve hit a plateau. Everyone in life encounters plateaus from time to time, whether it follows a new job that was once challenging but now is so routine that it has become boring, or whether you feel like you’re in the best shape of your life. Well what do you do when your health stops improving? What happens when you’ve mastered a job?
Naturally, the human inclination is to move onto something else, something better. We are constantly in a state of evolution. Humans constantly seek a new challenge. When we reach a state of peace or contentment, our nature is to create chaos, to shake things up, or to find struggle. Think about Adam and Eve. They were placed into paradise where everything was perfect. They wanted for nothing. But wouldn’t perfection like that get boring? Of course it would! Why do you think they took a risk with the apple? Because it is human nature. In more practical terms, “paradise” might be related to boredom. When you are bored it means that there is nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to work on. You literally are searching for something to do. You are not content to sit there and do nothing, which might sometimes be the case when you take a break from something you are currently invested in. But when you are truly bored, you aim to end that state of boredom. How? By creating conflict. The conflict might be as simple as getting up off the couch and cleaning the kitchen. Whatever it is, human nature dictates that when we become bored with things in life, we tend to shake things up.
It’s why so many people become addicted to drama. Drama constantly shakes things up. It constantly creates conflict that keeps things moving, keeps your lessons coming, keeps your life interesting. Of course not everyone adheres to drama. For those people who are relatively drama-free, they find their shake up in other ways. Perhaps those who do not seek drama already have mentally stressful jobs that constantly require focus and energy. Ever seen a dramatic doctor? Chances are low. And if they were dramatic, it probably means they don’t have many clients. The two are inversely proportionate to one another. Drama is the antithesis to hard work. Both create struggle in two very different ways. Both also serve the function of quelling boredom.
In shorter terms, you’re either working hard to change something in your life, or you’re bitching about it. The only way you are doing neither is if you’re catatonic or dead.
But I digress.
What does this have to do with plateaus?
Plateaus are what is created when you are in a state of boredom. Plateaus follow completions. Plateaus are a good thing! But when they last for long periods of time, it can make you feel a little anxious. Oh my gosh, I’m not doing anything with my life now. Your human mind is looking for the next challenge to occupy itself. How very masochistic.
In my example, for the last eight months I have been working on self improvement. I got my mental health under control, increased my income, got over a tough breakup, and learned some new skills. But over time, the thrill of these things began to fade. Now I am faced with…boredom. I have improved as much as I can at this point in my life. I hit all of my goals for the year. I have hit a plateau. But I’m not worried, because I know that plateaus don’t last forever.
As one very cool dude in history once said, or maybe it was from a book or the bible, “this too shall pass”.
So how do you “pass the kidney stone” of plateaus? Let’s look at some ideas.
Reading is one of the best pastimes when you are bored with your life. Is it a conflict or challenging? No, but by reading, you open your mind up to a multitude of new information, both fictional and realistic. Perhaps you will stumble upon something that sparks a new passion, a new goal, or a new life path. Knowledge is the key to contentment. And if you don’t find anything to break the plateau of your life, at least you’ve killed a few hours of that ever-nagging boredom.
It’s easy to love something and leave it, to get a job and quit as soon as it becomes routine. It’s so easy to give up. But to break a plateau, you must commit to something. That’s how you master it. That’s how you reach Lv. 100. That’s how you become better than the other guy. You stick with it. Sometimes the best way to beat a plateau is just to endure it and come out the other side. Appreciate the small things in life, take it one step at a time. Nothing lasts forever, and if you do nothing to break a plateau, believe me, the universe has got your back. She’ll do it for you, if you wait long enough. I think we call that fate, or luck, or whatever the hell…natural disasters. The unknown variable. Stick with something long enough and sooner or later you’re going to see some sort of universal shake up.
Meditation is just a fancy word for deep thinking. Just kidding. No it’s not. But that’s a big part of mediation. It’s all mental. If you find that you are stuck at a certain point of your life and you aren’t sure which way to turn, try meditation. Along with all the other benefits of meditation, you might just find an answer to your questions too. Sometimes just by turning off the mental clutter and negative juju you feed yourself during periods of stagnation, you are able to focus in on what’s important and think of a plan for your next steps. Even if your next step in life is to become a cat. Yep, it can happen.
Plateaus are wonderful times for self reflection. You achieve a goal and you’re feeling great, but that emotional peak is followed by the dreaded plateau. Go back to the you that you were five years ago, or ten years ago, or fifty years ago. Celebrate your accomplishments. You are not the same person as you were back then. Try to remember what you thought of back then. Did you have different goals? What was important to you? What did you want to be when you grew up? All of these reflective questions can help bring you back to the core of who you are. I also highly recommend reverting a little bit. Yeah, I know regression isn’t healthy, but sometimes by listening to the music or visiting the websites or hobbies that you used to occupy your time with can give you a great counterbalance to where you are now. Go ahead and have a good chuckle about how you used to cosplay when you were fifteen and thought you were the coolest teenager alive, living their best life. Reconnect with that inner child and give them a chance to stretch their little legs. You might just find that the room you give yourself to go back will be all you need to propel yourself forward.
Step outside your comfort zone
No good story ever begins with “So I was eating a salad”. The best stories are the ones that involve two foot long spicy volcano burritos and a trip to the bathroom that would have made Lucifer himself proud (the hugest pun in history, nyuk nyuk nyuk). Do something that scares you a little bit. Have two scoops of ice cream. Go rock climbing. Rob a bank. Just kidding, don’t do that. You never know what you’ll encounter by taking a step outside your normal routine. By wondering off your beaten path, you might just find some beautiful flowers. You might discover you are not a person who likes two scoops of ice cream. Or you might find out that you are totally a person who loves two scoops and decides to join an ice cream enthusiast group. You might tumble off a canyon wall and right into the arms of your true love (don’t laugh, it actually happened). Nothing shakes up your world like doing something that scares the hell out of you.
Join an organization
So you’ve found something that you’re really passionate about. You spent the last six months researching old books. But now what? You’ve grown tired of browsing ebay for elusive copies of Thomas Hood and Marquis De Sade. Why not share that passion with a group of people with similar interests? The thing about human interaction is that it usually propels change. Maybe you’ll make a new best friend. Or meet someone that shoves you forcefully into your dream career of being a published author. You certainly aren’t going to meet these catalysts by sitting in your bedroom. By joining a club or organization, you are inviting change. It might not be the ultimate change that you imagined, but it might just be the push that gets the ball rolling.
Return to nature
I don’t know of any problems that can’t be solved by returning to nature. (Except perhaps life threatening diseases. Nature can’t really fix that. Go see a doctor.) Outside of that, however, nature is a great place to go when you’re feeling stagnant. Realign you energy, feel the wind tangling your hair into a rats nest, run away from ALL THE BEES. There is so much to see outside in nature, so much to experience. Nothing makes you appreciate your standing in life more than being chased five hundred feet by an angry mama bear. Perhaps you can dip your feet into the scum filled pond at your local park, or get a brilliant lobster red sunburn at the beach. All joking aside, getting some sunshine and fresh air is super healthy and I highly recommend it. It might not solve your plateau, but it will probably make you feel at least a little better.
Explore your world
Do you remember being little and exploring all sorts of things? Even something as foreign as your backyard was exciting. You could get your hands dirty and play in poison ivy with no cares in the world for the danger of scratching your own skin open while whining profusely to your mother about “oh my god, it burns! It burns!” Oh yes, exploration leads to strange and extraordinary opportunities to live. Now, as an adult, exploration doesn’t have to be so itchy. Instead, you can explore much more enjoyable things, like the new speakeasy in the cultural district, or the burlesque show that you would never ever have considered going to in your life. Boredom leads to very interesting shake ups. Even if you have to go exploring on your own, doing something new and exciting might just be enough to jar you out of your flatline lifestyle. Ever seen the movie Eyes Wide Shut? You know, the movie with the infamous orgy? The main character in that movie leads a perfectly normal life. He has a good job, a lovely wife, everything a middle aged person could possibly want. Because of that contentment, he creates drama by following a metaphorical white rabbit into a world of secret societies, weird sex things, and danger. Of course there’s more to it than that, but just roll with it for the analogy.
Make new goals
And lastly, and probably most obviously, make new goals. When you hit a certain level, the next logical step is to climb to the next. Unless you are one of the most powerful and rich people in the world, there is always room to improve. There is always room to learn more, meet new people, and experience new challenges. Make a list of goals for the next year, the next five years, the next ten years. Determine that you want to join the peace corps, or remodel your house, or get married. One of those new goals could even be as ambitious as being president someday. I mean, they’re letting anyone run for president these days, so…
What do you do when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant in life? Leave a comment!
Talk later, friends!
How many of you watch self care videos on YouTube or read blog posts that lay out a routine most of us wish we could indulge in whenever we have a bad day? These self care posts often focus on the products you can buy for the best skin, the best relaxation, and the best detoxes. All of these products are very enticing, but for those who are living life from paycheck to paycheck, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all those fancy trends. This can often lead to feelings of inadequacy or negative self talk.
I can’t afford that kind of moisturizer. Who has the extra cash to take a weekend yoga retreat, or Caribbean vacation? There’s no way I can afford a gym membership and also dinner for this week. It costs how much for an organic coconut oil vegan facial scrub? No thanks, I have school loans to pay.
The need to care for yourself and nurture your body and soul shouldn’t be at the expense of sacrificing other everyday needs. Finances aside, I am a huge fan of all the self care videos and blog posts online. They always inspire me and motivate me to live that kind of life, but I do things a little differently, and maybe you do too, or would like to. Through my twenties I have developed a self care routine that works best for me, my budget, and my lifestyle.
The stresses of life can pile up rather easily, so it’s important to set aside time to focus on recharging your energy. Self care doesn’t have to only be about the products you buy. For me, self care is about nourishing my soul, getting back in tune with myself and my spirituality, and coping with the pile of stress that collects like a stack of bills at the back of your mental workstation. And most of these are of little or no cost to yourself; things that you can do no matter what your social standing in life may be.
When I am feeling like I need to focus on myself, I do any number of the following.
The first thing I do when I need to cleanse my body and soul is to take a nice hot shower. As Sylvia Plath states in The Bell Jar, it’s as if the stresses of the day wash off along with the dirt and oil and go right down the drain. I’ve often felt on the verge of tears, have stepped into the steam and heat of a shower and by the end I am relaxed and calm. After stressful events like job interviews, social gatherings, or dates that didn’t quite go as well as you had hoped, there is nothing better than stripping off all those tight clothes, losing the bra, taking off your makeup, and just being the free little soul that you are. Take the time to look at yourself in the mirror before you get into the shower, and instead of shouting negatives in your mind, be kind to yourself. You are beautiful despite all your wrinkles, stretch marks, and belly rolls.
Some days my yoga routine is meant to be a workout as well as a stretch–Do ALL the planks, master ALL the pilate’s, get ALL the abs!–but on my self care days, I like to take it easy with the positions I do. It’s all about trusting your body and doing what feels nice. Don’t stress about doing the poses right. This is a time for you to get in tune with your physical body. I mainly focus on small stretches. Starting in a seated position, I stretch one arm up and over my body in a sideways bend, and then the other. I then do some shoulder and head rolls. After that, I stretch out my legs in a forward sitting fold. I find that on self care days I general gravitate towards things low to the floor, so back stretches also help. Laying on my back, I twist one leg over my body while looking over the opposite shoulder, and lastly I finish by hugging my knees to my chest and rolling my lower back along the floor before settling down into corpse pose (which is by far my favorite!).
I really like Yoga With Adriene on Youtube. It always makes my day going through a nice easy session with her.
Yep, back to the ol’ meditation tip. The thoughts that weight heavy on your mind are able to be released when you actively try to clear your mind. I find that listening to meditation music helps get me in a nice comfortable mental zone. One of my favorite things to focus on during meditation is The Box. It’s a cognitive exercise where you take all the negative thoughts about yourself or from your stressful day, picture them as a physical object, and place them inside the box. Once inside, they can’t get out. Then picture placing the box somewhere in your mind and forgetting about it. The nice thing about this is that the box is infinite. You can pour as much negativity inside the box as you wish, just like Pandora’s box!
Another cognitive exercise I like to do while meditating is to picture myself someplace where I feel absolutely stress free and content. Recently, this has been in a small cottage on a prairie along the edge of a forest, where speckled sunlight shines through the trees and creates a golden paradise. In this safe space in my mind, I often try to get in touch with my inner child, which always appears to me as a grey cat. By focusing on the grey cat, I am able to reinforce positivity and ignore the negative thoughts for a while. This also gives me an opportunity to have a conversation with my inner child, or inner self. Check in with yourself. The way we talk to ourselves really makes a difference, so be kind.
I said this was a self care post on a budget, and I meant it. This is usually the point where all those vloggers and bloggers start whipping out their designer hand lotions, hundred dollar facial moisturizers, anti wrinkle cream that would cost my left tit to buy, and a smorgasbord of other odds and ends to get the flawless skin everyone wishes they could have. (Even though, if we’re being totally honest, all they probably did for their videos was apply a heavy layer or two of foundation, which can make anyone look flawless on film).
I’m about to be very real with you right now. My skin care routine consists of this: Since my face is usually nice and clean from the shower, I apply Clinique moisture surge. It’s the most expensive thing I own, so let’s get it out of the way right now. I use Clinique Moisture Surge because I have dry-ass skin that makes me molt like a snek after one of my nice hot showers. This moisturizer is the only one I have found that doesn’t cause me to break out. As soon as I apply it I feel like my face just took a nice healthy drink of water, and it stays moisturized all through the day or night, whenever I apply it. Without it I would look like a clay golem in desperate need of some rain.
Now I’m about to share with you a marvelous secret. After applying my face moisturizer, I moisturize my body. Not with Jergen’s, not with coconut oil, not with some weird concoction of olive oil, bee’s wax, and creme fraiche. You ready for this? I use Johnson’s baby lotion. It works SO much better than any of those super expensive luxury moisturizers, and leaves my skin feeling so smooth and soft afterwards. The other thing I like about it is that it absorbs rather quickly. I hate moisturizing my body and then having to stand there like a starfish waiting for it to all get soaked in as I stand in front of my fan.
That’s it. That’s the end of my physical care. Sometimes I will repaint my nails or exfoliate my gross disgusting hobbit feet, but that’s only if I’m feeling really frisky. (Just kidding, I have adorable little hobbit feet)
Oh, and don’t forget to drink water! It’s an absolutely affordable way to get better skin, better digestion, and better overall health. You’re made up of water. Never forget to hydrate!
When you’re having a bad day, nothing compares when it comes to feeling better than eating some of your favorite foods. Most of my weekdays are spent eating healthy foods and smart choices. I will limit the amount of carbs, cheese, and meats I eat, even though these are my favorites. But on self care days, anything goes. I think most people call these “cheat days”? Where you sit down with a bowl of mac n cheese big enough to feed a family and chicken nuggets, and eat until you are so satisfied that you can’t eat another bite. And who can forget dessert? I always treat myself to a fabulous dessert item on self care days. Sometimes I will even go to the store specifically to buy a fancy little dessert like a parfait, chocolate mousse, or little cupcake from the bakery section.
Once my skin is all drank and my mind is all clear and my belly is all full, I take the time to write in my journal. Sometimes I journal on my phone in an app called Day One, and other times I use a physical journal. I like the feeling of writing things down in an actual notebook with a cool cactus or unicorn pen from target (which you can get in the little $1 bin up near the front), but sometimes my mind moves faster than my hand and I end up frustrated, which is like, the opposite of a good thing for self care. So usually I use Day One and get out all the lingering thoughts for my day. I’m one of those super linear people who writes down what they ate and what the weather was like, along with pouring my heart out about social issues or money problems. I’ve been consistently journaling for about a year now, and it’s really interesting to be able to look back on my past entries to see what sort of mindset I was in during which days and which months and which life events. The other cool thing about Day One is that you can add a picture to your journal entries, and depending on where the picture was taken, it will create a map for you that tells you where you were and when. When you click on a map point, it will take you to that journal entry. So Cool!
Writing/Working on a creative project
Different than journaling, which is often personal and cathartic, I like to follow that up by working on a creative project such as blogging or creative writing, or even drawing. I have real issues with self-loathing when it comes to productivity. I feel that if I’m not creating something at all times, I’m a loser. That’s something I really need to work on. But I still like being productive when I can. At the end of the night is my favorite time to write because it gives me motivation to incorporate the happenings of the day into my work. I will also use this creative time to brainstorm blog post ideas or work on my websites/social media presence.
I often also incorporate a section of time where I can be social. I will send my friends “hello, how are you?” texts just to check in and make sure they’re doing ok. Sometimes they need some time to vent too, and having a friend to listen to you sometimes means the world to someone. It also helps to feel more connected when you actively reach out to your loved ones. When was the last time you called your mom? When did you text your sister? Even small gestures are sometimes enough to make huge differences in someone’s life.
Yep, I’m one of those girls. But taking selfies just reaffirms to myself that I’m a cutie and worthy of love and acceptance too. It’s a great feeling to appreciate yourself. Of course I will snapchat it up until my phone dies, but sometimes I just like appreciating the natural beauty that is me. With my blemished skin and blue veins and short eyelashes and all my double chins. Yeah, baby. It’s also really fun to dress up as glamorous as you want and take selfies that way. There’s nothing more satisfying than slipping into your favorite dress or pair of shoes for some personal selfie shots! And hey, appreciate that little booty of yours. Just because it isn’t a bubble butt doesn’t mean it’s not cute.
And there you have it. These are some of my favorite things to do on a self care day. As you can see, a lot of these cost little to no money at all to do. Not everything has to be about what you own or what products you use. Some of my favorite self care techniques are more about nurturing my internal spirit and finding peace within myself.
Do you have any specific things you always love to do on self care days? I’d love to hear from you!
They always tell you to follow your dreams, but what if you have no idea what those dreams are? There are certain people who seem to always know what they want out of life. From their teen years, they found a niche for themselves and set out on a journey to accomplish their goals in order to reach that end. Maybe they set out to be dentists, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, pornstars, housewives. Whatever it is, some people have always had a clear vision of what they want from their lives.
And then there are individuals who never really knew where they wanted to be in life. When I was growing up, all I ever really wanted to be was Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, and that was only because she had an amazing manor and gorgeous hair. Actually, it was because of Lara Croft that I decided to go to school for archaeology. I always thought I wanted to dig for lost historic treasures and go on adventures in distant countries. Well, a few of those interests still carry over these days for me. I still want to travel to distant lands and immerse myself in unique cultures, but after going to school, I realized that archaeology was never meant for me. All it consisted of was digging in the dirt and avoiding tick colonies with your trowel. Not my idea of a good time!
So I decided to change my major to anthropology, moving away from the physical labor of archaeology and more into the culture studies of people. But I soon realized that even anthropology was far from my dream job. As an introvert, interviewing people all day was nowhere near my idea of a good time. This series of realizations led me down a path that ultimately winded so far away from my original notions about life that I became terribly lost. And there I stagnated, stuck in the web of endless choices and paths which I could have taken.
When you achieve your goal and realize it’s not what you expected, what do you do? Where do you go?
I suppose the answer to that question is to figure out what it is you really do want out of life. If it were as simple as sitting down and answering a questionnaire, I’m sure there wouldn’t be so many lost souls in this world. But it’s a good place to start!
Using myself as an example, what were some of the things I found most appealing about being Lara Croft? I liked her mansion. She had a huge house with marble floors, a garage full of classic cars, gardens where she could walk and enjoy the sun. I also loved her hair and her independence. That’s a good place to start!
Below is a series of questions you can ask yourself to figure out what sort of life you want to live. The answers can be as realistic or as fictitious as you want them to be.
- What job would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
- How much money would you like to be making?
- Are you happy in life?
- What factors could increase your happiness in life?
- Where do you see yourself in one year?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
- What are your biggest motivations?
- What sort of people do you want to be around?
- Who inspires you, and why?
- Do you feel that anything is missing from your life?
- What is holding you back?
- What are you good at?
- What are your talents?
- What skills do you have?
- What makes you feel fulfilled?
- What are your hobbies and why did you pick them up?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind when you’re gone?
- What is the idea of a perfect day for you?
- Where would you like to live?
- What sort of partner do you want to have (if any)?
- What is on your bucket list?
- What choices are you torn between?
- What are the benefits of each of these choices?
- What would you add to your daily routine?
- What material things do you want to own?
- Why do you want those things?
- What are your strengths?
- What is a step you could take right now that would put you on a closer path to your dreams?
It is important to focus on your talents, skills, and strengths, but also beneficial to detail limitations as well. For example, you might want to be a massage therapist, but you might be double jointed with weak, floppy fingers. While that doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue your dream of becoming a massage therapist, it might behoove you to consider other avenues as well.
- What are your weaknesses?
- What skills do you need to develop?
- What are some things that You can’t stand?
- What behavior should you be avoiding?
- What don’t you want in a job?
- What don’t you want in a partner?
- Where would you hate to live?
- What choices are you torn between?
- What are the cons of each?
- What do you hate about your current job?
As mentioned above, if it were as easy as filling out a questionnaire, there wouldn’t be so many people feeling lost in their lives. I think a major factor in the dissatisfaction we all feel in life is partly due to the unrealistic expectations culture and media portray to us. We are led to believe that a certain type of lifestyle will make us happy, but happiness doesn’t work like that. We are all unique, and we all have different desires in life. Just because you aren’t aspiring to be a doctor or lawyer or CEO doesn’t mean your career path is somehow lesser. If it makes you happy and you can make money doing it, by all means, follow your dreams! And if you can’t seem to figure out what your dreams are, don’t worry. Not everyone has it figured out. Just try going down some of those many paths that have you feeling so stuck and who knows, maybe one of them will lead you out of the forest and into a life full of sunshine and happiness.