I’m standing on the cusp of a new chapter of my life. In this chapter I want to begin creating a body of meaningful work that will evolve throughout my lifetime, rather than thinking in terms of ‘a business’ or ‘a career’ or being an ‘entrepreneur’.
However, I believe it’s important to articulate the life I want first. In ‘Be Brave Enough to Quit’ I wrote about how I’d failed to be honest with myself about the life I truly wanted to be living.
I’m not referring to having a big vision, necessarily. What I mean is being completely honest about how I want to feel day-to-day and understanding what’s important to me, then shaping my work around those elements.
I spent February in Australia and whilst I was there, different thoughts about what’s important to me continually bubbled to the surface and I’d hastily scribble them in my journal or capture them on the backs of envelopes or in the margins or white spaces of magazines, if that was all I had to hand.
As a result, what follows are 12 simple guidelines I want to live by as much as I can. I’m not claiming they’re original and I believe we all need different things, but I still hope a few resonate with you.
1. Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep is the foundation upon which everything else is built on. And I mean everything. I know developing a sleep routine is hard (hello, fellow night owls!) but consistently getting a good night’s rest will make you happier, healthier, a better decision maker, more productive and you’ll feel like you’re a human ray of sunshine. Mostly.
2. Treasure Your Partner (in my case, my husband, David)
“The most important person in your life is the person who agreed to share their life with you. Treat them as such”. I don’t know who said this, but it’s beautiful, reminds me just how precious my marriage is and that this life doesn’t only belong to me.
3. Treasure Your Family And Friends
Family and friends are precious too. Don’t get so caught up in your life and work that you’re barely in touch with family and you let friendships slip through your fingers.
However, it’s not possible to remain friends with everyone, so be prepared to let some people go. Those that remain, give them the attention and effort they deserve.
4. Always Stay True To Yourself
Be brave and humble and fierce and kind. Don’t let your fear of being judged hold you back – someone will always be upset, but someone else will be delighted. Choose honesty. Choose yourself. Question everything. Decide for yourself what’s best for you. Make your own rules. Always stay true to yourself.
5. Believe In Yourself
Self-belief is such a tricky thing because our doubt crops up to protect us and in doing so, causes discomfort. Which often prevents us from taking action, which only results in disappointment. The key to self-belief is not to try to override your doubt and resist how you’re feeling, but to explore where the doubt comes from, to question it and the stories it creates, and then to make peace with it.
It doesn’t matter how many others do (or don’t) believe in you. It only matters that you believe in yourself.
6. Create Space In Your Life
At the end of last summer I decided I wanted – longed for – more space in my life. Space to hear my thoughts and space to tune into my intuition. Space to slow down and enjoy life.
Since then I’ve let go of so many things and ‘resigned’ from many more. I began fiercely guarding my time, setting boundaries and saying, “No”. no. I want to maintain the space I’ve already created, but also create more.
If you’re constantly busy and exhausted and overwhelmed – there is another way. Creating space in your life may feel rebellious and subversive at first, but busy is a state of being that we’re buying into without asking if life really has to be this way. And it doesn’t. Be brave enough to quit, let go of what no longer serves you, give up the people pleasing and get really honest about the life you truly want to be living. And then do whatever it takes to create that life, because you only get one.
7. Take One Small Step At A Time
Here’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt in the past three years; small, consistent steps eventually lead to something meaningful. Be patient, keep showing up – even when things are far from perfect – because every time you do it’s another small step closer to where you want to be. It all adds up, eventually.
8. Believe In Abundance
Abundance isn’t about what you own or your salary or your savings. Abundance is about seeing that you’ve always been provided for and that you already have everything you need. It’s about believing that there’s more than enough to go around.
9. You’re Not Meant To Be Just One Thing
I have an adventurer’s heart and need to be active and to spend time outside – every day. I also love data and facts and order and process – to a certain extent. But I’ve also got a creative’s soul and I need time alone, for making and writing. I used to think I had to choose between the juxtaposition of things I love; but that’s not true.
You’re not meant to be just one thing. You can love the ocean and camping under the stars as much as you love city breaks and five star hotels. You can be soft and strong. Paint your nails red and climb mountains. Wear high heels today and go barefoot tomorrow. Dance all night and read all day. You can love adventure and science and creativity and spending Saturday nights at home, watching TV. Always, always hold onto all the different, precious pieces of who you are.
10. Never Start Your Day With Social Media
Start your day with a walk, get outside, do a killer workout at the gym or some gentle yoga at home, journal, meditate, listen to an inspiring podcast or TED Talk whilst you make breakfast, or dive straight into that big project you’re working on. But never start your day with social media; it sucks up your time, energy and quite often, your happiness. There are far better ways to start your day.
11. Give Back
Always be kind, you never know what another person might be going through. Smile, pay a compliment and give as many hugs as possible. Turn your face to those in pain around you. Make sure they’re seen and heard and comforted and held. It doesn’t matter how they came to be in the position they’re in – what matters is how you make them feel.
12. Make Time For Fun, Try New Things
You’ll never ‘find’ the time. You have to make time for fun and new things – that’s what will motivate you to take the un-fun things out, I promise.
Just don’t wake up at eighty-five and realise you were so busy working and trying to keep up with other people’s priorities that you forgot to have a life full of fun and laughter and child-like wonder. Do something small each and every day that brings you joy; be active, get outside, buy yourself flowers, make time to read, or take a break with your journal in a fabulous café. Make art, bake bread, have a candlelit bath or send a card to someone you love – for no reason at all.
Do things that pull you out of your daily routine and try new things because each time you do, you’ll grow.
© 2018 Esther Zimmer