In search of happiness: the diary of a life-makeover

I’m in my mid-thirties and I’ve worked in ‘media’ for about 15 years.

I have a well-paid and challenging job, some savings, my health, great family and lots of friends, most of whom have a partner, kids, a mortgage. I don’t have a partner, kids or a mortgage.

And now I’ve realised that instead of treading water and waiting for the expected pattern of life to happen to me, I should probably take advantage of my freedom and lack of responsibility and ties and do something different.

So what to do that’s different enough to be worth doing? What will shake the tree sufficiently?

I could look for a new job in this city, or I could look for a new job in another city, or I could re-train and change career… Or I could just put it all on hold and go and do a ski-season.

Hindsight: tracing the origins of the idea.

When you have an epiphany it’s often hard to pinpoint to path that led to the realisation, but I’ve tried and I think there are about five key factors in mine.

  1. Reading Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar and then creating a happiness board with some of my very best friends from my Culture club (like book club, only less book-based!). Doing several exercises to analyse how much of my time I spend doing things that make me truly happy started me thinking about whether or not digital media was something I could really get passionate about.
  2. Going on a Yoga ashram retreat with my studio in the middle of the Yorkshire dales. An introduction to vipassana meditation and a bloody good long sit on a rock to think about what we’re here for.
  3. A conversation with a guy who suggested I was “money motivated”. An accusation that I tried to, but couldn’t, refute.
  4. The onset of sciatica from sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day – which made me very restless indeed.
  5. Sitting down and writing a list of my favourite things, which looked like this… Yoga, Pilates, skiing/snowboarding, cycling, cooking, eating and growing healthy food, Mountains, trekking, wild swimming, France, holistic therapies, design interiors, marketing, community support, being nice, etc
what are you waiting for

The note I wrote to motivate myself

So now I am in a position where:

  1. I know what I like to do with my time
  2. I have had a good think about the state of my life,
  3. Someone has made me very seriously question my motivation in work
  4. I know I can’t spend my days sitting at a desk anymore,
  5. I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of trying to shoe-horn the things I like doing around an office job that doesn’t intrinsically motivate me, I should make the things I like doing the centre of my day and shoe-horn work around them. That’s a proper work-life balance. And even better if I can make the work bit something I actually enjoy doing.

The very next day – I’m upside down on my yoga mat in Prasarita Padottanasana when clear as a bell it comes to me: Chalet Host, French Alps.

This may seem glaringly obvious, but it took Yoga to make it that simple.

I stopped my practice, logged on to my mac and started job-hunting immediately. Over the course of the next week I wrote my CV, cover letter and six-day, nutritionally-balanced meal plan. I rang my brother and asked if he wanted to come (he said yes so I wrote him a CV and cover letter too). I researched all the different types of company we could work for and narrowed it down to small independent family-run companies. Somewhere we could build relationships, care about their business and ultimately learn how to do it for ourselves. I sent speculative emails and even if the lovely people were already fully staffed for the season, they gave great feedback and passed our details on to their like-minded friends in the area. Two weeks and several Skype interviews later, we were offered a job with a company, run by siblings and their partners, with whom we had great rapport.

So I have a job.
Next steps – quit my job, give notice to my landlord, tell my family and friends, sell my non-essential belongings and prepare for Life: phase 2!

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2 comments

  1. Fantastic! What a story. I do hope you have a fabulous time. I work in the media too and being desk bound for so long – it’s unnatural. Very impressed with all the yoga – I could do with some of that. That story has brightened my day no end!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this! Even though I am only 25, I have come to the same realizations. I want my life to be centered around the places where I find joy. I hope to make my first trip to Mysore then Goa this fall. I can’t wait for the opportunity to dig a little deeper inside myself while there.

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