Going places? Go your own way!
One of my favourite quotes of all time is that ‘the best thing in life is doing what they say cannot be done’. Who ‘they‘ are will differ from person to person but we all recognise the debilitating ‘you can’t do this’ ‘I can’t do that’ and some of us will experience this on a daily basis.
Goal setting and razor sharp focus is the key to success here. In our busy lives, focusing one’s mind on a specific goal is easier said than done. Most of us don’t know what we want; we only know what we don’t want. We don’t want a boring job. We don’t want to be poor. We don’t want to live according to circumstance. We don’t want to disappoint our loved ones.
Knowing specifically what you do want is much different than knowing what you don’t want. When you only know what you don’t want, your intentions aren’t going to be focused.
Thanks to being dealt a dysfunctional card, I was lucky to know what I wanted very early on in my life. With violence creeping into my home on a daily basis, I used to go ‘someplace else’ in my head and really focus on what I wanted; I was living the reality of what I didn’t want my life to be like. I wanted choice over circumstance and that became my goal, to create an environment of choice for myself. I wanted to be safe, to live in a healthy environment where I could indulge in the great outdoors and creative pursuits. I didn’t have any planned route but I explored every opportunity I saw and always tried to enjoy the ride, although a lot of the time ‘endure the ride’ may have been more applicable!
Although I didn’t resolve to follow any particular path, it was MY path and my actions have always been taken with focus. I may have explored every prospect I’ve come across but I certainly haven’t taken them all… I’ve always worked very hard and taken the opportunities which built upon and enhanced each other, driving me closer towards the life I want to be living.
What is my goal? Well it’s two part and although each has evolved, they both originated primarily around my living environment.
Moving was always a huge part of my younger life and you may be surprised to know I am writing this blog from the last in a thirty something long line of addresses! At 35 years old, this is utterly excessive, I know, but it is just part of overcoming issues and ultimately my larger defining journey. It reached the height of ridiculous when I was renting a room in a London suburb in my early 20’s; I’d been to IKEA and bought a £20 duvet set which I loved. My disappointment at how terrible it looked in situ against the lilac wood-chip adorned walls called for drastic action and within a few weeks, I was happily moving into my new rented room elsewhere London where the duvet took pride of place in my beautiful new spacious white room.
Part 1 of my goal was by the time I was 35, to own a very specific West London flat in an area I’ve frequently rented in. This flat is to serve as my now, as my pension and ultimately but rather morbidly, as the last place I’ll ever live in.
I left London and returned to suburbia which held particularly bad memories for me to start saving the six figure amount needed to buy this flat. The goal was so specific, in fact only 6 flats in the whole of London ticked the boxes, two of the six flats were owned by people I knew weren’t selling and one of the remaining 4 had to come on the market to make this a reality. Many others didn’t believe this possible and tried to deter my disappointment by encouraging compromise and seeing as compromise isn’t in my vocabulary unless it serves a greater purpose, their kind yet premature discouragement fell on deaf ears.
I had so much debt to clear and so much money to save, I conceded to move somewhere which held a lot of negative personal history to act as my motivator and drive me to get the heck out of there as quick as financially possible. I thought it would take 2 years, it took 4 long years of discipline, saving and at times, sheer endurance to get the deposit money together before a further 9 long months of focussing on ‘that one in four flat’ coming up for sale. Through a three pronged attack comprising of schmoozing, staying focussed and believing it was possible, in July 2012, that dream became reality and today, I am the proud owner of my dream London flat. The flat was purchased off-market and for £20k under its asking price, it’s now being paid off and part 1 of my goal is my every day, I love where I live and I celebrate it every single day. Now it’s time to focus on part 2.
Part 2 of my goal is by the time I am 45, to own a modest house in the North Devon coastal countryside with at least 10 acres of land and a number of outbuildings. This home is to serve as my focus in creating my very own ‘bubble’. My bubble consists of semi-retirement and my husband and I would like to foster 16-18 year olds coming out of the care system and help to equip them for the real world, a land of opportunity where anything is possible.
When we get there, we’ll choose to live a sustainable lifestyle, run both a high-end yurt campsite and an inspirational foundation where the most troubled and vulnerable kids can learn how to look after themselves, explore their opportunities and leave (or not in some cases!) with a real focus on how they will make that happen and knowing that they each deserve to live the life they want. There will be structure, respect and at times endurance but there will be no ‘I can’t’ in our bubble! This will undoubtedly be hard work but can we do this successfully and transform lives to have positive outcomes? Absolutely!
Having decided not to have kids of our own, we would rather take our experiences and give back the knowledge, positivity and opportunity we have acquired along the way and reach out to as many young adults as possible. When we’re too old to live in the North Devon fields and need to be near amenities, hospitals and such like… It’ll be back to Part 1 of the goal to see out the rest of our days!
A set of specific goals is much easier to achieve than a vague end goal like becoming wealthy. Being focused on a path gives you an unparalleled motivation and logical set of actions to follow. Each accomplishment is one step closer to the final goal. For me, really ‘owning’ my own path, regardless of which one and in which direction, gives me the best chance of making these goals my reality.
But how can you choose a path if you don’t know what you want? Reality is complicated, and you may want to put off until tomorrow what you can do today, you may not want to commit too soon but that is why you’ll fail. Most people don’t fit neatly into a predefined path and forcing yourself into one may lead you to success, but it probably won’t ever make you happy.
This is the point. If you want to be conventionally successful, to attain your goals you need to choose a path and follow it to the letter but just don’t wait too long to decide as each moment you deliberate, you’ve wasted precious time and that’s one thing life teaches us all at varying points along the way, make it count as the time we have on earth is truly very precious.
You are as unique as your path, your evolution and if you’re looking for lucky-breaks, unconventional success and happiness then I would encourage you to not fit into the conventional box but to embrace change, live in the land of opportunity and follow a path all of your own. In my opinion, this way always seems to create the most interesting people.