I returned from my holiday feeling refreshed and re-engergised, ready to make some changes to my life. Sometimes it isn’t the grand gestures that make all the difference, but rather it’s the little things that have such an impact on my day. I had a lot of time when I was away to assess my life and how I want things to be. I’ve not made any massive decisions, but what I have managed to change is my mind set.
Are there things that I would like to change about my life? Absolutely. Do I know exactly what I want those changes to be? If I’m honest, then not really. What I do know is that I have I seem to have a lot of the basics covered without really realising it. I’ve got great kids who will be spreading their wings before I know it and making their way in the world. Over the last couple of years I’ve developed a lovely group of friends and my social life is in a much better place than it used to be. Even the elephant in the room of the way I make a living is not nearly so terrible as it could be. It’s not necessarily my dream job, and I’d rather not be tethered to my desk for 35 hours a week, but all in all things could be a lot worse. The salary isn’t out of this world, but it’s a lot more than I used to make. We’re recruiting yet again, which I’m taking as a good sign that failing a post Brexit total meltdown I won’t be out of a job any time soon. The benefits are great, with a base rate mortgage that certainly isn’t to be sniffed at.
I know I would definitely love to have more control over my time. Moving towards FIRE is only going to help with this. Whilst I’m not going to be in a position to quit any time soon, I definitely have some freedom money if I choose to use it. I was talking to one of my friends about the fact that something available where I work is the chance to take a few months of unpaid leave. I definitely have enough in the bank to be able to take advantage of that. Whether I’d want to deplete my funds like that is another matter, but it’s a nice option to have in the background if I’ve got something outside of work that I want to pursue. So if I ever get around to that book that I’m sure I have in me, maybe that would be a way to get it kick started.
Positive Mental Attitude Is The Way To Go
In the meantime I’m trying to make the most of life. I’ve gone back to work with a much more positive attitude than I had before my break. The thing is, when I’ve got my positive head on I quite like my job. I basically talk to people about their finances all day long, so what’s not to love? So I’m now just taking it one customer at a time and seeing what I can do to help them with their financial lives. I’m not saying I’m in work heaven, but I’m definitely appreciating my job a lot more than I was before.
Sleep Glorious Sleep
My rediscovered positive mental attitude is making a massive difference. As it the fact that I’m finally getting a decent amount of sleep again. I’m not quite sure at what point I started to think that six hours sleep was enough for me. It’s most definitely not. I’ve always needed a lot of sleep and I get grumpy when I don’t get it, as I’m sure my children would agree. Anyone who’s read my goal setting posts won’t be particularly surprised to hear me talking about sleep yet again. I’ve been banging on about it for months now.
I was trying to get seven hours sleep a night and feeling a bit better for it. I’m now trying to get eight hours shut eye and definitely getting the benefit from that. Now trying and actually getting eight hours a night are two different matters, but I’m getting much closer to managing this. 9.30 sees me starting to faff about and get ready for bed. I’m still not always asleep for ten, but I’m not far off it most nights. With a 6 am alarm call that gives me my magic eight hours. Crucially, even at the weekend now I’m still going to bed pretty early to get my eight hours plus in. As I’m usually up fairly early to run it’s no good me staying up late on the grounds that it’s the weekend. That just makes me too tired to enjoy my time off.
Now I’m not saying I never feel tired now, but I can definitely feel the difference the next day when I’ve only had seven hours rather than eight. And with six hours I’m pretty much dead on my feet. I now walk a couple of miles on a lunchtime rather than sleeping in the car. And whilst I’m not saying I never have a post work power nap nowadays, they are the exception rather than the rule. I feel that I have time to do things on a night time now, as I’m not constantly battling exhaustion.
I have my work set up very well arranged. Once I had my kids I realised I was no longer prepared to sit in traffic jams to and from work. I changed my work location and I’m now only a 15 minute drive from the office. I’ve got a lovely 8-4 shift, so most days I’m home by 4.30. So with a 9.30 bedtime I have five hours every night to do what I want. It never used to feel like it, but five hours is quite a long time. Of course there are things to do. Jobs about the house, spending time with the kids, cooking tea, making the next day’s lunch up, running clubs etc etc. Still though plenty of time to get some serious stuff done.
Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
To free up some more time I’ve put a cooking rota in place. No reason when there’s me and two teenagers in the house that I should be the only one providing food. The key to my whole week now is Sunday. At some point the three of us have a chat about what meals we’re having the next week and who’s cooking what. This basically writes the shopping list too, as we now know what food we need to buy on the Monday night Aldi shop. I then make up my snacks for the working week ahead, which means each night I only have to make my lunchtime salad up, rather than rushing around chopping up fruit etc to keep me sustained throughout the working day.
Each night before I go to bed I do a couple of tiny things that seem to make all the difference to how my morning goes. I set out my breakfast stuff in the kitchen. It takes no time to do, but when I come down in the morning I love how organised I’ve been and it just seems to make my morning run that much more smoothly. I also set up my laptop with the headphones in ready for my morning studying.
Changing The Habits Of A Lifetime
Previously my alarm would go off at 6am, 6.05, 6.15 and 6.20. I’ve done this for the last 30 years. I always wake up and have twenty minutes listening to the radio before I drag myself out of bed. Not any more. I still have five minutes listening to the radio up until 6.05, then I get straight up. I don’t know how easy this is going to be come the pitch black winter mornings, but so far it’s working like a dream. I get my phone to read me the news headlines for 15 minutes whilst I do my physio exercise for my knee. Then it’s shower time and then downstairs for breakfast. Once I’ve eaten I do ten minutes or so on Duolingo working on my Spanish. I always make sure I’ve done enough to keep my streak going, even though I know I’ll be doing more when I get home from work. Then it’s time to leave for work at 7.30. By the time I get to work I already feel like I’ve achieved some things and I’m on a roll.
In the grand scheme of things I’m still not doing a lot in the morning, but it feels like I’m being really productive and sets me up nicely for a good day. In an ideal world I would make even more time in the morning to achieve things. I’m already starting to think that if I could get up even just twenty minutes sooner I would also have time to do some yoga. I don’t think I’m quite ready to commit to a 5.40 am alarm call and the even earlier bed time, but it’s interesting that after such a short period of time my mind is already starting to think like that.
So all in all things are going very well. My holiday gave me plenty of thinking time and to realise that if I could just get the basics right then my life could be fantastic. I’ve decided to say yes to more things in life. When opportunities present themselves I am just going to go for it. Case in point was a recent trip to Edinburgh to see some shows at the fringe. A friend was organising a day out in Edinburgh and asked if I wanted to come along. She was meeting up with some of her friends who were coming up for the weekend. In the past my introversion would have made me think “oh, spending the day with people I don’t know, I don’t think so”. Instead I just said “that sounds like fun, yes please”. It turned out to be a spectacular day. The sun shone gloriously, the shows were excellent, I spent time with one of my good friends, got to know some acquaintances much better and met some lovely new people. I think I’m going to like this saying yes to things philosophy.
The plan then is to keep sleeping enough, stick with my morning routine, maintain my positive mental attitude, make the most of my evenings and say yes to things so that I can have a fantastic life. Sounds like a decent plan to me