Thursday, May 31, 2012

Take The Next Right Step

My apologies for disappearing--I've been spending a lot of time on the road lately. Posts with pictures to follow!

I've been reading the book God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours, by Regina Brett. It's a thoughtful little book of lessons Regina has learned in her 50 years of life--a life spent dealing with alcoholism, single parenthood, college, marriage, cancer, and, well...


It's a book I could have written, I think. It's a book I should write, if not with ink and paper, then at least with my actions.

In looking back on almost 52 years of living, and forward to at least another 52, I'm struck by the fact that while many folks my age seem to feel that life is almost over for them, I've got the sense that my life is just beginning, and I don't want to waste the next 52 years by doing what I've already done, and taking up space while I wait to meet my maker.

I want to live.

But how? That's the question.

In this, I'm guided by Regina and her little book, and also by the FLYLady, whose site has helped me in so many ways over the past six months.

FLYLady says: Take baby steps. You didn't get into this mess in a day, and you won't get out of it in a day.

Regina says: Take the next right step. If you're driving to California, your headlights only illuminate the next 350 yards. But assuming that you live in continental North America, and that you're actually heading in the right direction, those 350 yards of illumination are all you really need.

Take the next right step.

In order to make sure the next step I take is right, I need a goal, or goals. Otherwise, my steps are random, and not in the right direction. I can waste (I have wasted!) a lot of energy going off in myriad directions because I didn't know where I wanted to end up, or because I had conflicting goals. If you want to go to California and Nova Scotia at the same time, you're going to end up doing circles around Ontario. (Which is what I was doing for the last two weekends, but that was intentional.) If you want to get somewhere, the first thing you have to know is approximately where you want to end up.

So I've made a list of goals I want to achieve over the next few years:

Within the next year:

Declutter, organize and clean my house.
Paint my townhouse and decorate.
Complete and e-publish a novel.

These goals are SMART goals, and the one year timeframe is reasonable. I've already started the first and third, and I have almost everything I need to complete the second. (Did you know paint can last for years if it's left sealed in the can? :) )

Within the next 2.5 years:

Lose 57 pounds, bringing my weight down to 180 lbs.

Again, I've really already started this, having lost 12 or so pounds in the last few months. I've given myself a reasonable time frame based on the amount I've already lost and how long it took me to lose it.

Ten years:

Get out of debt.

Again, already started. I have a budget (which I regularly exceed--gotta work on that!), I've got a plan to pay off my housing charge arrears, my car loan, and my humungous student debt. The next right step here is likely going to be getting together exact figures (I know approximately how much I owe to whom, and how long the repayment is for, but not exactly...) and put together a timetable.

Fifteen years:

Gather a down payment and buy my own house, or some property on which I can build my own house.

Right now I'm living in a co-op. My housing is stable, with the housing charge geared to income, but it's not mine. I can never pay it off and be mortgage free, and I know that when the co-ops mortgage is paid off, there may well be no housing charge subsidy available. Add to that the fact that my backyard is too small to have a decently-sized garden, and I'm facing the fact that I will eventually need to move. Not to mention that I loathe general meetings, which are an important part of living in a co-operative housing arrangement. Needless to say, I'm NOT considering buying a condo.

So there you have my "bucket list," so to speak. It hasn't really changed much in the last ten or more years. What has changed, and only within the last six months, is my belief that I can actually achieve these goals. And my beliefs have changed because my experience with FLYLady has taught me that all I need to do is take the next right step.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the baby-steps comment. Life takes time, so make time for it! Great post.