I have always been interested in personal development. But it wasn’t until I hit my forties that I stepped back and really examined what I was doing with my life. I was pretty happy when I hit the big 4-0. I looked at my life and felt content with what I’d achieved, where I was in my life and my beautiful family.
But I also knew at the back of my mind that I didn’t have the balance right.
I was out of shape. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty. If I was working I felt guilty about not spending time with my kids; if I took time out I felt guilty that I wasn’t working hard enough, and so on.
Despite being incredibly organized and in control at work, I often felt that tasks and chores in my personal life spiraled out of control. I’d work hard all day, then feel irritable and exhausted when I stopped work and had to deal with the chaos of home life, before collapsing on the couch to watch TV as soon as the kids went to bed. I had no time at all to think about exercising, I was eating terribly and often felt lethargic.
Something wasn’t right. If I kept going this way for the next five, 10, 20 years what would my life be like? Would I be happy or would I have spent that time getting more out of shape, feeling endlessly guilty, and wasting my days away without thinking about what I really wanted out of life?
A plan for life
It took a few more months for me to realize that reflecting back on what I’d achieved and had, while valuable, wasn’t enough. I had to really examine what I wanted for the rest of my life. I had no clear plan, no real vision for what I truly wanted deep down. In fact, I didn’t even know what I truly wanted deep down. How do you figure that out anyway?
Rather than continue to drift through life, I started to think about what might happen if I really started to examine:
- What truly makes me happy?
- How do I really want to spend my days?
- What areas of my life do I need to work on to improve?
- What is my vision for the rest of my life; what do I aspire to?
- How do I turn my vision into goals and my goals into actions in order to move forwards?
- How can I live to be my very best self?
I embarked on deeper research and experimentation across the areas of mindset, physical health, nutrition and living a more examined life.
My big realization was how much mindset controls everything.
The reason you are in the situation you are in now is all down to you and the choices you’ve made, even if you didn’t feel like they were your choices to make. And how you view your current situation, and therefore how you are experiencing your life, are also influenced entirely by your mindset.
I’m sure you’ve heard of anecdotes such as the severely disabled person who lives a very happy life despite their physical limitation, while the fully able bodied person who is miserable, working in a job they hate or feeling trapped in a relationship they are unhappy with or feeling like they never have any luck. The big difference: mindset.
The most incredible thing to realize with your mindset is that it is entirely within your own control.
That means that you have full control to shape your mindset, and in turn, to shape your life in the way that you want to.
I truly believe that mindset is the first place to start with any change that you might want to make. Want to get healthier? Really want to be fit but can’t be bothered or can’t find the time to exercise? Wish you could find a job you actually enjoy? Wish you had better relationships with your family or your friends?
Start with your mindset.
I stumbled upon this through one simple mindset exercise (see this blog for more) that set off a flow of changes that have been incredible so far.
I went from someone who:
- Was ‘too busy’ to exercise and even when I knew I needed to get off my chair/sofa and move, I just couldn’t bring myself to.
- Ate copious amounts of chocolate every day (a big sharing bag of chocolate M&Ms was my favourite)
- Picked meals based purely on taste and indulgence most days, and often felt bloated and slightly uncomfortable with my somewhat out of shape appearance
- Had no clear direction, except to keep working hard without questioning if I was working on the right thing
- Felt tired all the time
- Had mood swings and felt really down on occasion
To now being someone who:
- Sees regular exercise as incredibly enjoyable and part of my lifestyle
- Is much more educated about food and enjoys making the right choices most of the time, but still keeping balance (I do love a glass or two of wine over a weekend!)
- Feels so much more energy every day
- Has more tools at my disposal to help me get through challenges, or find direction or motivation when I recognise it’s lacking
- Controls (most of the time) the way I view what’s going on in my life – from simple things like instantly turning irritation with noisy kids into calm so I can better deal with the situation, to more challenging things like turning my recently broken foot into an opportunity and not even considering shelving my fitness plans, just adapting them. I know for sure this is not something I would have managed so well in the past
- Has a clear vision of my future across all the key aspects of life (health, family, friends, career, hobbies/things for fun, inner self (some people might call it spirituality) to help guide and inspire me
- Focuses on gratitude and feels calmer, more balanced and happier every day
This has not been easy, and it is an ongoing quest.
I am by no means perfect!
There are areas of my life I know I need to continue to improve. But the most important thing is that I am aware of that and I am continually working to do so. And I will share ideas and progress with you as I do so.
The Life Reporter is my personal blog to share with you all the things I’ve learnt so far and continue to learn on my personal development journey. In doing so, I hope that it gives you inspiration and practical know-how to do the same in your life.
I truly believe that all of us have the potential to live the life we truly want to live. But it takes thorough planning, experimentation and hard work to make that happen. And I’m bursting with excitement to share these ideas with you so you too can feel the impact and take steps to improve your life.