Thursday, February 20, 2020

Try It On For Size

Once you’ve taken the time to examine your life and to determine what aspects you want to keep, what to alter, and what to totally eliminate to create a life that is more authentic, more what you want and can be most productive in, you might feeling discouraged or even apprehensive.

As you look at your blueprint, what you want may seem impractical or even impossible. Maybe you’re simply not sure the steps you need to take — and can take — are the right ones, and you don’t want to burn any bridges. 

That’s completely understandable. And there’s a solution to your dilemma, a way to find out if a proposed change is right for you. 

The majority of changes people contemplate can be tried on for size. Some may take a little ingenuity, but every proposed change people have ever shared with me has been doable on a smaller scale or on a trial basis.
If you dream of selling your 4-bedroom, 3-bath home and moving into a tiny house now that the kids have moved out, for example, you can easily try the tiny-house lifestyle without selling your current home and making such a drastic move. 

If, for example, you are absolutely sure you want to downsize but just aren’t sure a tiny house will be big enough, experiment a bit before you list your home. Determine a square footage you’re comfortable with as a starting place. Measure a space that size within your existing home and mark it off with electrical tape (on the floor). Put everything you plan to sell or give away in a bedroom, the basement, or the garage, and move everything you want to keep in the space you’ve marked off as your new living space. Live in that space for 30 days — or more — to see if it’s doable. If you find that the area you’ve marked off to live in is more than adequate, adjust the tape to make it smaller and try for another 30 days. 

If you find that at this point in your life you can’t live within the square footage of a tiny house, you at least know how small you can live in comfortably. List the large house and look for either a smaller home or an apartment that is as close as possible to the size you were most comfortable in as you experimented. Who knows? Maybe after living in a 2-bedroom apartment for a year, you will find that you’re ready to go even smaller. Experiment again and see if that’s the case.

You may not want to use electrical tape to create imaginary smaller rooms or move to a smaller space, only to move again into a tiny home at a later date. You can always rent a tiny house and live in it on your next vacation.

Do you dream of retiring in 2 years to travel around the country in an RV? You can try out that lifestyle by renting an RV on weekends and on vacation and taking mini-trips. If boats are more your style, rent a houseboat for a weekend or several weeks at a time. 

What if you dream of quitting your stressful corporate job and developing a home business? Unless you have a really large nest-egg to live on until the home business produces the income you need, it’s probably not feasible to leave your current job. But you can “try on” being a small business owner. Determine the type of home business you’d like to develop and get started, working the new job an hour or two every evening and on weekends. At the same time, put as much of your income as possible into paying off any debt you have and squirrel it away for a cushion when you do quit your day job. Sell off any unwanted items sitting around the house and put that money into that account as well. 

Or perhaps you simply want to change careers. Consider what you’d rather be doing and look for either a part-time job or a way to volunteer in that field. A former colleague was, after 15 years on the job, unhappy in her job as a high school secretary. She began volunteering several hours of week at her local public library; 7 months later, she applied for and was hired as an assistant librarian in the reference department. She’s currently taking online classes to earn her library science degree and hopes one day to be a head librarian. 

Another friend is planning to retire January 1, 2021. She has always dreamed of working with children in underdeveloped countries. She has completed the application and screening process of a well-respected volunteer organization that utilizes adults of all ages in its program, and she will be using her 3-week vacation this summer to volunteer as an English-language teacher to children overseas. She shared with me that if this experience goes well, she will apply for a short-term assignment that begins right after her retirement.


These are just a few possible changes and a few ways to try them on for size before making a commitment. 

Look at your blueprint for life redesign. For each change that is perhaps a bit bigger than you’re comfortable making all at once or that involves something totally new to you or that you’d like to try out first, make.a list of ways you can do that and then try out one of them and go from there.

Trying on something for size is a great way to see if a proposed life change is the right one for you.

I’d love to hear about how you’re going to try on a life change or about your experience doing so! Please share via a comment. And if you can’t think of a way to experiment with something on your life redesign blueprint, please share. Perhaps someone in the community has an idea or two that might work for you.






Thursday, February 6, 2020

Decisions, Decisions

We do it 35,000 times a day. 2,000 times every hour. Once every 2 seconds.

We make a decision.

Some we make with little thought, and rightfully so. We see a stop sign, and we slow down and then stop before entering the intersection.

The problem is that we make far too many decisions with little or no thought at all.

We are such creatures of habit that even when we have options, we often select the same one over and over, even if the consequences are less than ideal. For example, for many years I didn’t eat breakfast. I knew that starting the day with something healthy with protein was what I should do, and even though every once in awhile I promised myself I’d eat whatever healthy breakfast food I put before my children in the morning, my “breakfast” of choice was usually a soft drink consumed while driving to work. When it wasn’t a soft drink, it was a Snickers bar!

If we aren’t acting out of habit, we often make choices on the spur of the moment. We don’t take the time to consider the options available to us, and their ramifications, until it’s too late and the damage of our collective poor — or just not-best — choices catch up with us.

No matter why or when or in what situation our choices are made, they add up. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, "We are our choices."

It's important, then, that as we make decisions, we make not just good ones, but the very best ones.

But how do you do that?

It’s really not difficult; in fact, making the best possible decisions involves only 4 steps.

First, it’s imperative that you know your beliefs and values. You may be tempted to quickly skip this step because you’re confident that you know what you believe and what your value system is. Do you?

Let’s take a quick test. Grab a piece of paper and jot down your top 2 values, or priorities. If you’re like most Americans, you’ll list God (or faith), followed by family. But write whatever 2 things you value above all else. Now, look at your planner/calendar and your checkbook. Does the use of your discretionary time (the time left over after your job, necessary chores around the house, and sleep) and your money (after true necessities) indicate that you truly value what you wrote down? If they do, good for you!!

When I was challenged a few years ago by something I read to give myself that quick test, I could no longer ignore the fact that I was not making choices that were aligned with what I claimed to value. I wasn’t alone. Several studies indicate that over 90% of Americans use their discretionary time and/or income for something other than what they say they value or, at least, not in proportion to their values.

Second, you must have a clear picture of the life you want to live. If you don’t, work through the Life Redesign Blueprint I wrote about a few weeks ago or read any number of books on life redesign available at your local library, local bookstore, or online bookstore. Whatever route you take, make sure that when you finish, you know what you want and don’t want in your life from this point forward.

Third, be more aware of the opportunities you have to make a decision; in other words, be more intentional in noticing when you have options. Of course, not all decisions required that you go on to step 4. Wear brown socks or black? That one doesn’t require you consider much more than what color pants and shoes you’ll be wearing. :)  But if you recognize that your decision has some true consequence, move on to step 4.

Four, pause and consider every option available to you. Weigh each one first against your own belief system. If more than one option remains, ask yourself which one is the one most likely to take you to the life you want to live. I realize that someone may be pressuring you to make a decision; their may be a deadline involved. Tell the person you need time and, even if you must work through step 4 quickly, that’s an improvement over not evaluating the options at all.

Simple, yes.  Easy, no.

It’s going to require a change in your habits. It’s going to require that you stop acting out of habit and reacting mindlessly.

It’s going to require intentionality.

It’s time for you to join in the discussion. What decisions do you tend to make without pausing to consider the consequences? Do you have any suggestions or tips to share with others that struggle with this? Any examples of how this has worked out in your life? Please share your questions and/or thoughts via a comment. 






Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ready, Set, Change! (February Challenge)

photo courtesy of pixabay
So you've decided to make some changes to your life.

It doesn't matter if you only want to make a few minor adjustments, several or more major changges, or if you're making a complete life redesign (Creating a Life Redesign Blueprint).

The time to begin is now.

But change can be scary.

Our current circumstances, uncomfortable -- even painful -- as they may be, are familiar. We know them, we've survived them so far, and we know we can continue to do so. It's much less intimidating to stay where we are than to step out into new territory, even if that territory looks awfully enticing.

And let's be honest -- brutally honest -- for a minute.

Sometimes were less intimidated by the change itself than we are the fact that it's going to take effort and work on our part to bring it about.

I know first-hand how overwhelming it can be to make life changes. I know first-hand that it takes work.

I also know it can be done.

While some people can completely change their life in one fell swoop, quitting things cold turkey and adopting totally new practices or a whole new lifestyle by diving in head-first, most of us simply can't.  Legitimate lack -- of funds or knowledge or resources or time or something else -- holds us back.

Fortunately, you don't have to implement change in an all-or-nothing fashion. Instead, you can make one -- or a few -- changes at a time. You can take large steps or tiny ones.

photo courtesy of pixabay
For example, if you’ve decided that you want to quit your job and go back to school to study for an entirely different career, but there’s those pesky things like a mortgage and feeding yourself and your family standing in your way, you have options. Selling your large, expensive house and purchasing something more affordable, that would free up some funds, is one. So is taking one or two classes a semester for now.


One step, two steps, or a clean-sweep life change — it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get started . . . now!

I want to help you do just that.

Here's what I want you to do. If you've worked through the Life Redesign Blueprint process I shared a couple of weeks ago (link provided above), select the change(s) you can reasonably begin implementing right away. If you haven't worked through the blueprint process, do that now or simply decide on one change (or more) you can make now.

You might decide to remove something -- sugar, the purchase of non-essential items, smoking, gossiping, fast food and restaurant meals, social media, to name just a few examples -- from your life.

Instead, you might decide to add something: taking a 15-minute walk every day, memorizing one Bible scripture or inspirational quote each week, clearing out the clutter in your closets (or just one closet), researching and planning a vacation trip, finding and attending a grief support group, etc.

Or you might implement a change to your routine. Perhaps you will eat 4 vegetables a day instead of 2, go to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal every night, use only cash instead of credit cards, or install apps on your electronic devices that help you spend less time on the internet and then spend that freed-up time establishing that home business you've put on the back burner for months, maybe even years.

You've got your change in mind? Good.

Go one step further. Commit to that change for the entire month of February.

Starting Saturday, February 1, be very intentional about incorporating that change into your life. One day, one hour, one minute, at a time.

You won't alone. I promise. I'll be making a change right along side you.

Not only that, but every Thursday here on my blog and every day (except Sunday) on my Facebook page (Patti Miinch) and my Instagram feed (@PattiMiinch), I'll be sharing tips and helpful information and offering you encouragement.

Like and follow my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. But don't stop there. Join in the conversations here and on social media. Share your challenge, your thoughts, your successes and struggles; offer support and encouragement.

We can do this!
photo courtesy of pixabay






Friday, January 17, 2020

Family and Friends and Coworkers, Oh My!

I received an email two days ago from a gentleman I’ll call Fred. With his permission, I’ll share a bit of his story.

Fred’s marriage ended almost a year ago, and he was spending most evenings and every weekend eating meals and dozing in front of the TV. His daughter read my post about making life changes (Creating a Life Redesign Blueprint).  Worried about his uncharacteristic but now-chronic listlessness, she told her dad she thought he needed to make some changes and she knew just the way to get started.

After first he discarded creating a life redesign blueprint as “too touchy-feely” for him. Tired of his post-divorce life, though, he decided to give it a try.  Plus, as he explained in his email, his daughter kept nagging him, so he did it “just so she’d hush up about it”.

Fred jotted down a few ideas and then, feeling intrigued by the possibilities, visited his local library, searching for information on fly fishing camps and African safaris. A helpful librarian told him about podcasts, and he was introduced to a new avenue by which he could learn even more.

He was, he explained, feeling optimistic about life again, and things were going great. Until, in his excitement, he shared what he had been doing with his fishing-buddy brother-in-law and with a coworker who was also a good friend.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com
Their reactions were mixed. The coworker/good friend was intrigued by the African safaris and even suggested he might be interested in joining Fred. On the other hand, the brother-in-law was at first amused and then dismissing, mentioned the phrase “midlife crisis” a few times, and alerted his wife (Fred’s sister), who in turn paid Fred a visit to share how antidepressants had done her a world of good after her youngest went off to college.


Fred suggested in his email that I warn people in the act of redesigning their life to keep quiet about what they’re doing.

Fred raises an important issue. Unfortunately, and for a myriad of reasons, not everyone in your life is going to be supportive of your desire to make life changes.


I’ve learned in the past 10+ years, as I’ve made my own life changes, that people fall into what I consider 4 camps, and how you handle people you care about and interact with, according to their “camp”, could make all the difference in your journey to successfully and positively redesign your life.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com


First, there will be the enthusiastic supporters, the cheerleaders in your life. They will support you 200%, be interested in your progress, and may even help by sharing information and resources. You may be tempted to surround yourself only by these folks, but that would be a mistake. Yes, you need people who consistently and wholeheartedly encourage you to follow your dreams. But you also need some people who, while supportive of you and of your happiness, do not unwaveringly support your every idea and action.


You need realistic supporters. These people care about you and are supportive of your efforts to make positive changes in your life. But — and this is important — they will consistently temper their enthusiasm with practicality, and they will share with you honestly, without pessimism, when asked for their thoughts. You need a couple of people from this camp in your life. They are the ones who, at the end of a long, grueling work week, will remind you that singing Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It’ to your boss  with only 1 month’s living expenses in the bank and flying on a one-way ticket to Tahiti to lie on the beach while writing your magnum opus is probably not the best course of action. They are the ones who will understand your frustration and encourage you to lay the groundwork (financial and otherwise) before buying taking any drastic steps.

You probably also have at least one or two skeptics in your life. They can’t really understand what you’re doing because they avoid change themselves and can’t fathom anyone else being willing, much less eager, to alter a “perfectly good” life. These people can be dangerous to your life redesign. Because they may feel their relationship with you is threatened by the changes in your life, they will be careful not to appear too negative or unsupportive. As a result, they may appear to be realistic supporters and insidiously erode your enthusiasm. Be very carful how much time you spend and how much about your plans you share with a skeptic. Typically, the more time and information you share, the more negative they become; so be prepared to change topics or make an exit if  that happens.

Hopefully, there are no openly oppositional people in your life. A friend of mine calls them Debbie (or Davy) Downers because of their chronic negativity that never fails to suck the enthusiasm and joy out of those around them. It would be wonderful if you could avoid them altogether, but if you cannot, you might simply do what Fred suggests: don’t tell them about your life redesign process. If they find out anyway — and it seems that Debbie/Davy Downers often do find out what we least want them to know — be prepared. You might want to simply tell them that this is important to you and that you’d appreciate them offering you, if not their support, at least no discouragement. You might have to take other steps such as determinedly changing the topic when they criticize what your doing, avoiding them as much as possible, etc.

None of us exist in a vacuum, completely isolated from other people. It's crucial that we treat both ourselves and others, no matter how they view what we life-redesigners are doing, with respect.

Share your thoughts via a comment. Give a shout-out to someone who is a positive force in your life. Share about a less-positive situation and, if possible, how you've successfully handled it. Let's help each other as we journey to more fulfilling, joy-filled lives. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Creating a Life Redesign Blueprint

Is your life what you envisioned 20, 10, or just 5 years ago? If not, you aren't alone. Studies indicate that many, if not most, people are living a life unlike what they had planned. Sadly, many of those people are frustrated and unhappy. You may be one of them. 
No matter what got you to this point -- one (or more) major events or the culmination of a number of seemingly-inconsequential events and decisions -- you have the power to change your life. Yes, you really do! As Dr. Seuss said in Oh, the Places You'll Go, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose."


And whether you want to make some minor adjustments or you're looking for a major life overhaul, this is the time to act.

Not because it's the start of new year (new decade, in fact!), but because it’s now. There’s no better time than today, this very moment, to begin the process toward living the life that will give you peace and joy. 

You may feel stymied, unsure how to get from where you are to where you want to be. That's perfectly normal.

The best place to start is with the proverbial blank slate on which to create a blueprint for the life you want to live.
My life-redesign “slate” was 2 pieces of typing paper accompanied by a favorite blue ink pen. You may choose something else -- a spiral notebook and crayons or a large dry-erase board and markers, for example. 

Gather whatever works for you -- it's time to start your own life redesign blueprint.

Note: If you are married, you may want to include your spouse in this activity or each of you do the activity individually.

The first step in the process is to brainstorm a list of what you want and what you do not want in every aspect of your life: career, leisure activities, people, emotions, home, possessions, etc.  
The key to effective brainstorming is to write down every idea as it pops into your head. In other words, do NOT second-guess or censor yourself. If "buy a monkey and train it to clean my house" pops into your head, write it down.

You might try brainstorm in one or more ways. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
  • Imagine your ideal week. What would you do every day? Where would you live and in what type of home? What time would you wake up and what would you have for breakfast? What type of home would you live in? What possessions would you choose to have? What would you do in your free time, and what kind of people would you surround yourself with? When and where would you work? What would be the nature of your job?
  • Consider your current life. What from your present circumstances would you keep in your new life and what would you love to discard? What would you prefer less of? What would you like to do more often or have more of? 
When you run out of ideas, consider other ways to explore the topic:
  • Consult some of the numerous “bucket list” sites on the internet and jot down the ideas that appeal to you. 
  • Ask your friends and family members what their ideal life would look like. Ask your Facebook friends.  
  • Go to a local book store or your public library and browse the magazines; select the ones that interest you and then sit down and page through them. Notice what draws your attention. Are you intrigued by magazines and articles about world travel? Hobby farms? Condos in large cities? Quilt-making?
Once your list is complete, set it aside for at least a day or two, adding things as they occur to you.  
When you feel your list is as complete as it can be for now, begin refining it. Combine very-similar items into one.  For example, I had both have more discretionary funds and be debt-free on my list. Obviously, if the relatively small credit card debt I had and my monthly car payment were eliminated, I would have had more money at my disposal, so I combined the two original items into one: get and stay out of debt

Part of the refining process is determining what you really want, above all else, in your new life. Perhaps your original list is small, and it’s completely doable to have everything on it. But if not, now is the time to prioritize your list and/or cull or amend some items. Keep in mind that you should only delete or revise an item for one of two reasons. 

First, if upon reflection you realize you really don't want that item after all, delete it. Yes, having someone else do your housework for you would be great, but do you really want a monkey? Think of the mess, the cost of bananas! So strike the monkey and consider adding "use a cleaning service". 

You should also delete (or at least amend) items that are, if you are honest with yourself, truly unrealistic. A 59-year-old friend wrote on her list "become a professional race-car driver". She knew that, for her at least, that wasn't feasible. She amended it to "attend a race-car driving camp at least once a year" (yes, they exist). 

That said, don’t be afraid to dream big, maybe even bigger than you’ve dreamed since you were a child. There are people who are traveling the world, without a 9-5 job or a hefty trust fund, all year round because they weren’t afraid to dream and then work to make their dreams come true. And then there's my friend who retired from her secretarial job at age 60, converted a portable shed into a tiny house with minimal help from her son (she even did the electrical and plumbing work, and both passed the city codes), and now lives completely debt-free on a small parcel of land overlooking a lake.

When you're done revising your list, create some sort of "final copy" that appeals to you. You might want to create a Pinterest board with an image for each of your items. Or you could cut words and pictures from a magazine and create a collage on poster board or a physical bulletin board. Perhaps you'd prefer to write your list in a rainbow of colors on a dry-erase board. I chose to write my list on the first 2-page spread in a brand new, leather-covered journal that I then used to journal about my own life-redesign process. A dear and very creative friend created a collage of charcoal sketches -- one image for each item on her list -- and hung it over her living room fireplace.

It’s your turn now. Grab a notebook or some paper and a pen or two. It's time to brainstorm!