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5 Steps to the (Almost) Perfect Life...Invest in You

We all have something in our life that needs a tweak: job, relationship, faith, health, dreams. This happened to me in early 2018 - I had my great job, great friends and family, great (enough) health, but I kept feeling unsettled. Like, really unsettled. I'd felt this way since I finished graduate school. Adulting was no fun, and I longed for the days of zero responsibility aside from studying and happy hours (grad school is that good). Now I was working my butt off saddled with $125,000 of student loans I was desperately trying to pay off. Nobody tells you that if you want to put yourself through grad school, you will leave with a mortgage, right at the time when you want to think about an actual mortgage. To top it off my husband had loans as well.

Back to the point - when you feel unsettled, what do you do? Spend days daydreaming in your office chair about what could be? Lay awake at night wishing things were different? We are all guilty of this, and for me it caused chronic anxiety - to the point of physical symptoms like chest pain, blinding headaches, and eventually a panic attack or two. So in early 2018, something clicked, and I started the journey that would lead me to leave my job in early 2019 and start two businesses.

Here are 5 steps to get you started:

1. Spend money (or go to the library) and read all the books you can about what you are struggling with.

My issue was a big one - I felt I needed to elevate my level of happiness all around, so I read books about envisioning and designing a life you love.

2. Buy a journal, a scratch pad, or create a section in Evernote dedicated to you.

I purchased a Moleskin bullet journal, and I still carry it with me everywhere. I have about 5 pages left today. Some pages have drawings, some have bullet points, and some have page after page full of thoughts I had over the past 18 months. This step to me is crucial. Take the time to invest in this step.

3. Consider investing in a career coach.

My sister's best friend from high school had recently become a career/leadership coach (Callan Blount Fleming of Spark Collective). I didn't believe in the stuff at all, but I was desperate to feel better and get out of my head, and I'd known Callan for 15+ years at this point, I knew she was smart, and wouldn't give me weeks full of fluff. I committed to 10 sessions. Here's what a coach can do:

- A coach can make you verbalize and make sense of the thoughts or obsessions that are keeping you up at night.

- A coach can give you tangible options of how to move forward with or let go of those thoughts.

- A coach can be a really nice complement to steps 1&2.

- A coach can help you stretch and dream bigger than you've been willing or able to in the past, and help you create that dream.

- Working with a coach is all about you - there is no judgment, just a guaranteed sum of hours dedicated to figuring your stuff out.

4. Find a leadership training course online or in your area.

Try one that focuses on Gallup's StrengthsFinder, or a personality profile that you like.

I found a training track through the group I volunteer with. It was a group of about 35 women that met once a month from Fall 2018 until May of 2019. I found the experience invaluable, it had a great synergy with everything else I was doing.

5. Dream big, and be specific about what the perfect life looks like to you.

This will change, it will evolve. It's best to write each of the iterations down so that you can go back and see how your dreams evolve as you invest further in yourself. I wrote hour by hour what the perfect day was, and once I did that, I could start to plan how to actually make it happen.

These steps seem broad enough as I read back over them, but this is the framework I used to completely change my life. I'm still growing and evolving, still reading books and listening to podcasts that support my growth. But you must start. That's the first, and largest hurdle.

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