We live such busy lives in the 21st century, demands from all angles; work patterns, friends and family, children, bills, loans, holidays, DIY, education, schools, even our pets.
They all add to the pressure we feel during the year.
I don't know about you but these pressures seem to escalate around the summer and at Christmas.
Having 2 younger children means schools add to the pressure of stressed-out parents; Concerts, parents evenings, homework deadlines.
This week alone I helped my son get his Roman homework in, it had to be in on a particular day, (not before, as to do this apparently was some sort of crime) ...I didn't understand the rigidity of this rule.
We worked on a Roman shield, with embossed feathers and a mini structure that stuck out in the middle, he was proud, he designed it and we made it together. He also worked on a written project about the Colosseum, Gladiators and Roman people. When he won second prize ...I felt so proud...
Then the next day I started a World War I trench (to scale) with my daughter, we only have 2 weeks to get it in. She doesn't seem fazed. I, on the other hand, do feel a bit stressed and responsible. I've got the pressure of getting it in on time. Mad really.
But sorry I digress. Actually no, I'm not sorry, it paints the picture about what I'm trying to say.
You see what I mean, pressures create stress and we have it from all over.
Pressure comes from all angles....from letters from your broadband provider asking you to upgrade, meter readings needed for your gas and electric. Junk mail, emails from 10 different accounts.
You are also the IT consultant for your family and work colleagues. Stay with me here, it does get more positive.
If any of the 20 IT devices go wrong you are the one they look to. I am also battery changing man. Add to that Cat poop and flea medicine man.
We have the MOT for the car due in 4 weeks, so is the car insurance and car tax. The window cleaner needs paying via online transaction this week (I always forget). I'm sure there are 20 other things I forget.
You see the mad lives we all lead.
And so the beat goes on!
Coupled with working 60 hours week, for a pension you might never see. Poor sleep patterns, not enough exercise, too much alcohol, too much sugar. You start to feel ever so slightly crappy.
I am sure you recognise the patterns in your own life.
Pressures from your boss to get work in, sometimes impossible amounts of work that 10 years ago was done by 10 people... now it's just you.
You think you meet the expectations bar, only to find the bloody bar has been lifted again, but no one told you.
The pressure to get bigger homes, nicer cars, better clothes, eat out more, be seen in the right places, be with the right people and do the rights things like sports or say the right, clever things to 'clever' people just like you.
Keep the peace with relatives you don't like.
Sort out the problems of those you do.
Get on with those to get ahead.
Love. Care. Listen.
Aargh.... sometimes don't you just want to go away and hide?
So something needs to change, well that's what I thought anyway.
I wasn't happy.
Who is really happy, with lives like that?
Are you happy? Truly happy? Maybe you don't have a life like that?
Maybe you have made the changes already?
Maybe you got out and changed your life?
Yes we have moments of happiness, and I am always grateful for what I have around me, don't get me wrong.
But I didn't feel fulfilled.
I didn't feel I was living a life of contentment.
I'm going to get a bit personal here now for a moment....for example, a few years ago we had a big house, with 3 bathrooms. (Lucky you I hear you cry. No not really).
We worked hard, too hard really and went up life's ladder because we thought that was what people like us did.
But with this brought a downside...You pay for a bigger house in every way. The mortgage, the upkeep, the bills, the maintenance.
Tradespeople charge you more if you live in a bigger house.
The overall cost of living increase by the size of your house. So you earn more to pay for it.
You work more, you have more pressure and stress.
And for what?
So you can live in a big house and say to people “Oh I live in a 5 bedroom, detached house!”
whoopee Do Do.
What is the point?
This came to a head a few years back and you can read my story if you want to know more. But the long and the short of it was... I woke up.
I could see that the next 10 years of my life was going to be like the above.
I was constantly saving up for the bathrooms to be redone, the kitchen needed replacing.
The driveway which was huge needed recovering. The idea of all of this bored me, made me feel dead inside.
The place was a drain, not only on our finances but also on our very life essence!
It was sucking us dry.
What happens when you wake up but your partner doesn't?
My partner didn't want to leave the place. I was starting to hate it there, but she loved it. She loved the large space, the location in a village full of people doing the same things and living the same lives.
I felt I was suffocating.
She felt she'd found her place in her world.
You have 2 choices....you up sticks and leave or you stay. But leaving was never an option for me.
We have children and I didn't want to leave and break up the family network. So I kept quiet and festered.
Then 2 things happened in succession, my partner became ill and we had a 2 weeks holiday in a caravan where we spent 2 great weeks in a small space and we were very happy and content. We both wanted the change and it was the right time.
To cut a long story short we moved. For her health and my sanity.
I call it downsizing. Our friends looked at us sympathetically and said things like....”oh having a big mortgage can be hard to keep up with” or “you want to move from here to there? Why?”
Downsizing: It has been a buzzword in recent years.
It was our choice, we wanted to get out of the rat race, the hamster wheel of life, we felt locked into. I said ...I don't care what other's think about us downsizing and leaving behind what they saw as a 'perfect life'. It doesn't matter, they'd never understand anyway.
But you know what? we never saw it as a negative, we saw only the opportunities such a change brings.
Changes are opportunities to gain back control and refocus what we all want from our lives.
What do you want, really, really want from your life?
I wanted freedom.
I wanted control.
I didn't want to be at the beck and call of banks, a job and retirement slipping further and further away from me.
I didn't want to work 60 hours a week to live in a house I wasn't interested in.
I wanted to live in a neighbourhood where the people weren't plastic and shallow.
Working people who weren't necessarily well off, but were more well, real.
I wanted to design and create a new life for us all.
A simpler life. More in touch with nature, love and spending time with each other.
I wanted some land where we could grow food, and have chickens and the kids would see more of their parents, who were happier and more content with life. To show and teach them about a different way of living.
This is all very 1st world problems, isn't it? But it is real and real for us, real for our generation.
You can make a change... you can take back control.
We made a decision, it was forced upon us in the end because of health issues, but it was the opportunity we needed... the push.
The jump off a cliff we needed.
So within 3 months, we'd put the house on the market and it sold quickly so I felt it was meant to be.
We cleared the house. Sold a lot of stuff we didn't need. Found a semi-detached, 1930's place with a large flat garden. And 2 days before Christmas we moved.
We released most of the mortgage. So that freed us up to new opportunities.
I worked out that if we had kept the old mortgage we were working 15 years just to pay off the interest rates! On a 30 year mortgage.
What is the point?
So we had a smaller house, but to tell you the truth it isn't that smaller, we have lovely neighbours, who are real and down to earth.
We have never been happier because it has freed us up from trying to fit in with a life we no longer wanted.
And never really wanted, it was an illusion set up by society and the media.
My partner can work part-time, I have also dropped my hours to work on my own business.
All the bills came down. Everything from gas and electric to maintenance, tax, everything even the tradespeople charge you less for the same jobs!
So suddenly the foot comes off the gas peddle.
We dropped out of the fast lane for our own happiness.
I am currently taking this further and creating and designing a different life of freedom.
It feels right. It feels better.
I see more of my children, they don't have a stressed out Daddy now.
They have someone who can take their time with them.
Isn't that a better way to live?
You need to have the confidence to step off the treadmill.
What about you?
If you recognise all of the above, ask yourself...what is it I want?
If you are happy with your life and you will have no regrets in 20 years, then fine. Keep moving forward.
I'm not judging you.
It is your life.
But if you want something different, if you want a simpler way of life.
An easier, less stressful place to be.
Then you need to make some decisions about what it is... you really want.
Do you judge your life by how much money you have or how many bedrooms you have?
Then maybe this way of thinking isn't for you and I wish you luck.
But if like me you have or are waking up, then there is a chance you are feeling the same.
You are ready for a change, but you don't know what it is.
You want to simplify your life.
De-clutter, whatever to make your life simpler.
It might be paying off your debts by shopping smarter, shopping at Aldi rather than Waitrose.
Not using credit cards and watching what you spend.
Not buying those expensive coffees every day and making your own.
Only buying what you need.
Getting a cheaper second-hand car and not buying the latest model every 2 years.
Having a cheaper camping holiday and not going for a trip to Disneyland for £6k.
I'm sure the refugees in Africa would love to have those issues to deal with whilst they are looking for their next meal.
But I'm just putting these issues into perspective.
My point is....what do you need to live a happy life?
A roof over your head?
Some adventures and hope for a better future?
I recommend after reading this article …
…write down a list of what you need and what do you want from your life right now.
Really think about it.
And then decide where to go from here.
Don't do everything overnight.
It took us about a year to move forward and 2 years after that for me to change my work pattern, and realign what I want to do.
It takes time, especially if you have others to think about.
But if you are going in the right direction and feel that it is the right direction and you feel that you are in your flow, then things will flow right for you.
I look back now on the past 3 years. Everything fell into place. It was hard at times. However, I believe in things are meant to be. I had said “we have to put the house on the market now”, this was late Sept, my partner wanted to wait until the new year.
I said no, I feel it has to be now.
So we did and then it sold within an hour.
If we'd waited the area we want to move into because of a change in road usage increased in price by 20% so we would not have decreased the mortgage like we did. And the housing market took a dip so we might not have sold as quickly.
My partners' health dipped in the new year as well so it would not have been the right time.
A conversation with an estate agent at the right time enabled us to see the house we eventually bought before it came on the market, so we got it early. And the list goes on.
What also happened was, as the pressure was taken off me, I started to expand my horizons, think about my life differently. I think of it like spreading my wings.
I thought... well I don't have to be locked in a cage, in a job that whilst I enjoy, I can do other things.
I've always gone for the job that earns more to meet the demands of the existence. But that had all gone now.
I no longer had to progress in the sense of my life was no longer a treadmill.
That felt so good. It was so liberating.
I felt I was breaking free from a life I had felt trapped in for so many years.
I was dying, literally dying, the job was killing me, but now suddenly I was living again.
Funnily enough, this change in mind actually made the job I was doing much easier. And this comes down to fear.
Fear of losing the job, so you end up losing your house and your lifestyle. I had all that lifted from me, so I relaxed, I didn't feel the pressure any-more, well not as much.
And that was great. I think my work after this was much better, I became more creative, more alive, more adept at taking risks and saying what I thought, rather than scared of stuffing up my career.
Then I came across something which took all this to another level. That opened my eyes to designing and creating a new life of freedom.
I started to want to design a simpler life on my terms and working for myself, from anywhere in the world, where I could spend more time with my kids and enjoy my life, that bit more. I came across some free educational videos with 2 mentors who have helped me to change my life. They are called Stuart and Jay.
Their education academy supports people like you and me to change our lives, to build a business online, to be entrepreneurial, to be the real you. Life changing, goal changing. Totally mind-blowing stuff.
So I am simplifying my life even further by creating it myself. And designing it the way I want to be and what I want to do.
It sounds complicated, but really it isn't, it is fun, mind-bending, self-fulfilling and I'm having the best time of my life because I'm starting to live it the way I want to.. if I can... so can you.
If you want to see what all this is about and you want to take back control of your life, to see what's out there, something different. Earn a living on your terms, take back control and simplify your life, then check out 7 free, training videos that will take your brain in a different direction and maybe bend your mind like a pretzel in the process.
Let me have your thoughts in the comments below.