How to define your dream ‘everyday’ life.
Curating a dream life is something we can all do, but often we switch to autopilot and are so distracted by everything going on around us and to us that we barely get a chance to stop and breathe. And think.
And if by chance we find time to think about our dream life, we tend to think of the big stuff. Like buying a house, going on an overseas holidays, reaching a certain rung on the corporate ladder and retiring early enough to enjoy it all. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Per se.
Big picture goals are really important and they can certainly help point us in the right direction. But along the journey, what did your life look like? Were you happy? Did you fill your days with the things you enjoyed, or did you just hop on the train waiting for your stop to come up?
In your dream life, how many hours are you working a week?
So let’s start with some of the basics. Work hours. Take a moment to imagine your dream life. How many hours a week are you working?
It’s a tough question isn’t it? What sort of work is it? Do I love it? Am I in front of a computer or out networking? Does it include “not-often-referred-to-as-work” work of parenting and household chores?
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re talking about money making work. Work that pay the bills, puts a roof over your head, allows us to enjoy holidays every now and then and to save up for a rainy day.
Deciding how may hours you want to work may seem a bit difficult to pin down, but it’s really just a starting point. Put a number down on paper and figure out how to make it happen. I also want to share my story in a minute of how taking this step improved our lives dramatically, because sometimes the answer is not what you expect!.
Or put it this way – how many hours do you want to set aside for free time?
If you’re struggling to answer the question of how many hours to work a week, look at it this way. What do you want to do with the hours that you’re not working? What do you need more time for? How would life look different?
For me, I want to join a gym with a good selection of classes. Most of the good classes are at 9.15am or midday, times I just can’t get there working from an office. Now this isn’t ground-breaking, but it is how I would love my daily life to look. I know the value keeping active has on our mental and physical health, but I struggle to fit it in around parenting and work.
I want to make home-made bread. Not the knead-free kind either.
And healthy oat biscuits for the kids.
And this year my goal is to learn to make sausages! But I’ve yet to find the time… it’s not just actual time either, it’s mental time. Time to be creative, to feel enthusiastic to do something new rather than come home tired from work and just want to wrap yourself up in comfortable habits.
And lastly, I want to be able to enjoy the school holidays with my kids and not scrimp and save my annual leave just to manage the childcare arrangements. I want flexibility!
The decision that changed our lives.
I mentioned earlier that deciding on the hours my husband and I wanted to work changed our lives. Seriously. And in an unexpected way. Two or three years ago, we went through this exercise (so, mainly me, but hubby generously sat though it and listened and nodded).
We said that we wanted to earn more money.
We wanted more money so that eventually we could both work a little less – around 30 hours a week each. I was already working this, but my husband worked way more and just didn’t get to spend as much time with the kids as he wanted to.
So we needed more money. If we could earn a little more, we could pay down the mortgage faster. And eventually he could switch to something with less hours. The problem was that the next ‘rung on the ladder’ for him would be a regional role, meaning more travel and less time at home.
I wasn’t sure how we were going to do this, but I knew if we wrote down our goals we’d be one step closer.
Then something happened. My husband started to think about changing direction completely, and becoming a firefighter. Among other things, he would be at home way more. And because two of his shifts were night shifts, he’d often be at home during the day, and be able to come to the kids after school sports games or school trips.
The salary was way less.
So if we had written down the goal “earn more money”, and stopped there, this would have been a non-starter. But we had taken it further to really think about what it would mean to us. Why did we want more money and how did we imagine having more money would impact our lives? More time with the kids, right?
So needless to say he took the plunge and is now happy in the Fire Service. Enjoying a whole lot more family time and we couldn’t be happier about it! What about the money? Well, we’re not paying off the mortgage so fast, but he’ll never regret another day of the kids growing up too fast and missing out on it.
And the changes we didn’t count on…
You might remember that I said I wanted more flexibility around school holidays? Well, guess what! Now my husband is around more we’ve got it! Tick! Now I just have to work on my own flexibility so I can get to the gym and bake some bread 🙂
Now it’s your turn!
And don’t forget the most important thing…
WRITE IT DOWN.
Get your journal out, drag out your laptop! Whatever you find easiest to actually get writing. Now jot down some thoughts about the hours you want to work a week and why you think this will help create your dream ‘everyday’ life.
What would you do if you had extra hours? Is it just the flexibility you need? Do you need more time to pursue your hobbies, or to bring some self-care routines into your life? Are you missing the kids’ school trips or sports? Let me know below!