General, Life Plan, Life Purpose

Re-Imagining Your Life

The following is an article I wrote about how to re-define what success means in our lives. This was originally published in the April 2014 issue of GLOSS, an on-line publication – RE-IMAGINING YOUR LIFE We are living in a magical age.  Our life expectancy continues to improve and with ongoing medical advancements, we can […]

Carol Yang

The following is an article I wrote about how to re-define what success means in our lives.

This was originally published in the April 2014 issue of GLOSS, an on-line publication –

RE-IMAGINING YOUR LIFE

We are living in a magical age.  Our life expectancy continues to improve and with ongoing medical advancements, we can expect it to improve further.   In fact, Australia already has one of the highest life expectancies in the world; with combined gender life expectancy at 81.4 years, higher than the UK and USA; according to United Nation estimates.  And while gender equality at the workplace is far from what we desire, Australian women today have far more opportunities to chart their own path in life than ever before.      The world is truly our oyster.

On the flip side, we are also working longer, whether by necessity or choice.  Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the average retirement age for those who retired in the past 5 years was between 61 to 63 years for men and 59 for women; and 2/3 of people aged 45 and over intend to retire at or above 65 years of age.  In addition, a survey by the Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia shows that women working full time are feeling the greatest pressure with dissatisfaction levels over their work/life balance doubling over the past 5 years.

This trifecta of forces is driving a growing consciousness towards redefining what success means in our lives.  I first touched on this in my July 2013 GLOSS article where I discussed how we can redefine success beyond the traditional measures of money and power.  Quite often, this search for a greater sense of meaning occurs midlife.  There is a growing social movement of people leveraging the second half of their life as another opportunity to grow and achieve life goals that may have been left on the back burner.   However, in today’s world of uncertainty and rapid change, younger adults often also find themselves navigating major life transitions causing them to re-evaluate what really matters.  Caught in the hamster’s wheel of life, many of us however, are in danger of not giving ourselves the permission to hit the pause button.  To stop for a moment to reassess if we are on the fast train…. to the wrong destination !  Or to be proactive so that we are better prepared to handle transition points in our life no matter at what age.  To have better clarity and certainty when we reach a point where we are asking ourselves “What’s Next ?”

How to create the next chapter of your life

If you are at a transition point, or seeking to redefine your personal measure of success; your journey would involve 3 key steps.  Think of each step as picking up a set of tools that empowers you to move ahead – like using a map and navigation tools to guide you on your journey.

The first step is a journey of self discovery.  This is a critical phase.  Start by asking yourself some hard questions about what you truly want from life.  In other words, what are your most important values.  Not what you are expected by your (fill in the blank) to do, or need to do.  What do you truly want ?  Are you spending your time and energy on things that fulfil you the most ?  Is there something you perceive as lacking in your life ?  It is an inspiring process of digging deep to acknowledge some truths about your life today, and importantly to get clarity for the future.  Think of your values as your personal North Star, the very essence of who you are, to guide you as you chart your path ahead.

Often we are not fully aware of how our everyday actions and thoughts already reflect the values that are most important to us.  After all, don’t we always make time for things that are important, and delay doing things that are less important ?  There are many ways to ‘peel the onion’ and one tool that I have found helpful is a set of 13 questions called the Values Determination Process.  Developed by Dr John Demartini, a renown expert in human behaviour; the questions reveal insights from looking at various aspects of your life today.  For eg How do you currently spend your time and energy ?  What dominates your thoughts ?  What do you visualise most for your life ?  Going deeper to understand the ‘whys’ behind your answers is how you’ll find your values.  I recommend using this tool in combination with some others to provide good a breadth and depth of insights.

Once you have identified what truly matters and fulfils you, you can now chart your course ahead.  At this point your negative self-talk starts to take over.  Ironically, despite the clarity from understanding your values, I guarantee you will immediately begin to talk yourself out of it !  That’s only human as we have an in-built mechanism to protect us from perceived danger of the unknown, whether real or imagined.

The second step therefore is to understand what fears or limiting beliefs are holding you back from creating the life you want.  In general, there are 7 fears that hold people back.   Most common is the fear of failure and the fear of not being good enough or smart enough.  If you’ve ever been plagued by self doubt, you’re in good company !  Estimates show that about two out of three high achievers confess they’ve felt like phonies, despite their accomplishments – known as the ‘impostor syndrome’.   One simple tip to overcome this is to be a mentor.  Finding someone who looks up to you and passing on your wisdom does wonders for boosting your confidence !  Again by using the right tools, you can identify your top fears or limiting beliefs and work on overcoming them.

You’re now at the home stretch – Step 3.  Buoyed by energy that comes from greater clarity and purpose, you can’t wait to start your next chapter.  It’s now time to chart out your next course in greater detail.  This is where writing your Personal Mission Statement or if you’re more visually inclined, creating a Vision Board is very helpful to visualise the life you want to have.  Then break this down further into specific goals for the next 12 months, develop an action plan to achieve them; and identify the right resources (people, financial or physical) to enable this.

Empowering you along the way

Here are additional things you can do to empower you on this journey –

  1. Give yourself the time and space for self reflection.  This is critical especially during Step 1.  Some experts call this the ‘neutral zone’ – the process of hitting the inner pause button and being open to possibilities.  Personally, I have found that some quiet time first thing in the morning works best for me.  It doesn’t matter when you do it.  What’s important is what works best for you, and that you carve out some quiet time for reflection.
  1. Have a circle of trusted advisors or a mentor who can be your sounding board.  They can provide a different perspective, add depth to your own insights and support you as you action your plan.
  1. Communicate early on with your partner and other significant members of your family so that you can enrol them to support you as you transition to your next path.

From personal experience I know that the journey is inspiring and clarifying; and at times confusing and scary.  Yet I’m also confident that you’ll get as much value from the journey as the destination.

Dig deep.  Take action.  And may your journey lead you to a life of purpose and fulfilment aligned to who you truly are.

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards : they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want”  –  Margaret Young

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