February is a grim time of year in the UK. And if you have kids, there’s probably not much worse than staring out of your window on a cold, wet, mid-February morning – wondering what you’re supposed to do to keep them occupied all day.
Maybe that’s just me though. As a home-schooling parent, school holidays are always difficult because all of the things we might normally do with the children when everyone else is at school suddenly get a lot busier. And more expensive. But that’s another story.
Outside my window, it’s still raining. And my thoughts turn to sunnier climates.
This time last year we were in Orlando Florida. On this very day in 2015 I was busy living it up with my two youngest girls in Legoland Florida. While my two eldest girls (OK – I’m married to one of them) were enjoying a “business trip” to the Bahama’s. I’m not sure who got the better deal…
Anyway, we had a great time. And I was reminded that there are plenty of other parts of the world in which you can make a life for yourself if you’re sufficiently determined.
Later on in 2015 we paid a visit to my folks (aged relatives) in the vicinity of Almeria, Spain. If you need some help picturing what the geography looks like, it’s where all the Spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood were shot. My great gran was actually in one of the films. Though she only had a bit part. I was in Spain for a week, and two of the days were spent travelling to, from and speaking at a conference – so it wasn’t a complete holiday. But nevertheless, it reminded me of what the other side of the fence might look like.
Hotter. Cheaper. More expansive.
Even later [in 2015] still, and I’m sat in France, with some more aged relatives. And I’m thinking the same thing. I just want some space. And I want not to be cold half my life. And I’m done with working for “the man.” ????
And yet here I am, a year later, looking out of my window – at the rain, and turning up the heating – because it’s cold, and wondering what happened to my dream of just being a little warmer, and a lot freer?
Well… I forgot it. That’s what happened.
And it happens so easily, with the busyness of life. With the need to earn a living, and pay the bills, and look after the kids, and take care of ones social connections, and family, and business. It’s too easy to forget your dream.
So this morning, as I looked out of my window. I made a renewed commitment to myself. To keep my dream of leaving the country in sharp focus. To not forget about my goal and to implement some strategies that will help ensure I’m progressing towards it.
Here’s some of the techniques I’ll be using:
Make the goal SMART
I’ve written about SMART goals before. But I’ll recap the main points. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. In the case of moving country, that means I need to answer questions like – where exactly do I want to move to? What issues are involved? When do I want to move there? What is the impact on my family? How am I going to generate an income? Etc etc.
If I want my imagined goal to become a reality, I need to root it in something tangible and get very detailed about what the plan actually looks like. If I can get very specific about when, where, what, who and how – then it should be relatively easy to implement the next technique.
Create habits or rituals
I’ve written about the power of systems over goals before as well. But in a nutshell, what I’m talking about here is developing habits that reinforce or underpin the actions required to move me towards my goal – daily, weekly or on an otherwise regular basis. There’s some specific things I can do on a regular basis that will move me in the right direction – like staying in regular touch with colleagues and friends who live in the geographies I’d like to move to. Creating a CV and online profile that is targeted towards the areas I’d like to live. Making a regular effort to network or apply for work in those areas, or ensuring that I’m developing a business that will generate sufficient income for me to live in the place I want to.
I mentioned Scott Adams in my systems over goals piece, and he’s written about his experiences with affirmations – which are another tool I can use to keep my goal(s) at the forefront of my mind. Not because there’s any kind of magic involved, but because I’m programming my mind and helping it stay focused on the thing I’m wanting to achieve. And because, as Richard Wiseman says in his book The Luck Factor, if I’m expecting to get lucky, I’ll notice opportunities to create my own luck more often. Over the course of time, those little opportunities might just add up to a big opportunity – and if they do, I want to be ready for it.
By writing this article, I’m announcing to the world that this is what I’m doing. On a micro level, people that I know are going to read it and we’ll probably talk about it occasionally and by doing so, they’ll keep me honest. The people closest to me will ask me how I’m progressing towards my goals and I’ll have to give them some kind of answer. That conversation will be a lot easier for me if I actually go ahead and do some of the stuff I’ve already talked about. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing some tangible results and have some good news to share. If I don’t then the conversation will be a powerful reminder for me to get up off of my butt and do something about my dreams.
On a macro level – I’m announcing to the world that this is my intention. And hey, you never know who reads these things right? (Yes – I’m talking to you. Make me an offer! ???? )