A slower, simpler life is as much an attitude as a lifestyle. Even within the confines of our existing commitments, a subtle shift in attitude can slow the pace of life right down. Small changes to what we focus on and how we organise our time can make life feel so much simpler and more meaningful. But what if you’re spending a third of your life doing something that’s neither slow, simple or meaningful? If your work is so demanding or stressful that it unravels your best efforts at slowing down, are small changes ever going to be enough?
For many people, a slower, simpler life by definition would be a life with less – or even no – work. And for most of us, a significant change to our work commitments is a pretty big deal. It’s not the kind of change you’d make on a whim and it certainly doesn’t fit with the context of One Small Change! But every big change starts with the seed of an idea. You don’t quit your job as an accountant and embark on a new career as a flower arranger if you’ve never given flower arranging a second thought. This week’s One Small Change is to plant that first seed for a change you’d like to make to the way you earn a living. This could be anything from an adjustment in your working hours, to a new job or a complete change in career. There’s no need to go into details, just identify the seed of an idea and make it an intention.
When you create an intention, it lets your mental filling system know that this idea is important to you. Important ideas get priority status. Have you ever been in the market for a new car? Usually this starts with an intention – “I need to buy a second hand car.” Up until this point you’ve probably paid little attention to the used car market. Suddenly, upon setting an intention, car showrooms and used car ads are popping up everywhere. By setting an intention to work part time, you’re entering the market for part time work. Now when opportunities come up, you’ll recognise them and you’ll be ready to respond.
There’s a whole industry set up around intention setting, but I don’t think it needs to be complicated. What do you want? Say it. That’s your intention. Think about your ideal work circumstances. Keep it real (its probably too late to be an olympic gymnast), but let yourself dream a little too. Would you rather work fewer hours, have longer holidays with family, travel less or get outside more? Is it your goal to work for a company that makes a difference or could you see yourself taking a pay cut to follow a dream? Would a better boss or an inspiring mentor make work more enjoyable? What about starting a business or working for yourself? If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions to kick off the creative thinking:
- How can I achieve my full potential?
- Does my current work fulfil me?
- How many hours would I like to work?
- What is truly important to me, and how should this relate to my work life?
- What would be possible if I earned a new qualification?
- What could I change about my work life to better align with my values?
- What have I sacrificed for work so far? Was it worth it?
- Could I earn an income doing work that I love?
- How much money do I really need?
- Could I live with less money, get a smaller mortgage or reduce costs in any way?
Your One Small Change For This Week
This week’s One Small Change is simply to set an intention. It doesn’t have to be well defined, and you don’t have to know when or how you’re going to do it. That will come later. Before plans and details must come dreams and ideas. For years I dreamed of working for myself. I tried once and failed, and for most of the time I had no idea what I was going to do in this imaginary self-employed life. But self employment was my intention, and eventually I found a way. The way I see it, everything starts with an intention!
Here are some examples of intentions:
- I intend to work three days a week
- I intend to have more annual leave
- I intend to study nursing
- I intend to start freelancing one day a week
- I intend to reduce my mortgage by finding a smaller home
- I intend to spend more time with my family
- I intend to find work that makes a difference in the world
Make your intention real by writing it down or saying it out loud. Stick it on a post-it note and tell a few people so that it takes roots in the real world. This week you’re simply planting a seed, It may not grow immediately. It may not grow for years. But it won’t grow at all unless you plant it.