Thursday, March 23, 2006

Use your life

When I was 18, life stretched ahead of me with endless possibilities which, sadly I tended to put off till ‘later’. I was foot loose and fancy free with loads of time on my hands to achieve all the things I wanted to. Life seemed eternal.

Now, 18 years later, my life has taken on a kind of urgency. I am always in a rush. There are not enough hours in the day and so much to cram into my schedule. Books to read, emails to answer, projects to begin. However, most of these never get done because as I begin one task/project another one starts to tug on my subconscious until finally it grabs me like a bulldog refusing to let it’s victim go and I succumb and move on to the next ‘pressing’ task/project, leaving the first one unfinished. And on it goes. If I were to draw my life’s map, it would be littered with these unfinished projects, or goals, and unachieved dreams. Many of which have never gone beyond the drawing board stage.

At 36, it’s finally sinking in that I don’t have all the time in the world to achieve my dreams. If indeed I live to ripe old (biblical) age of three score and ten, then that means I only have 34 more years to do what I want to do –to achieve and live my dreams. So I have to start NOW.
Do you know that this is the first time ever I have worked the maths out and it looks pretty scary seeing it down in black and white. 34 years, in spite of what you may think, is not a very considerable length of time. So thinking about this and looking back on my life, these are a few things I know now, but wish I knew then:

Take risks. Something I don't do enough of. I’ve played life very safe indeed – ‘risk adverse’ is what I will be known as in business terms. Risks challenge you and make you reach for resources within you never thought you possessed. Some risks are good and some risks are bad, but all risks help you grow. The best time to take risks is when youth is on your side, I think. At that age you are fearless, resilient and largely innocent to the ways of the world. In fact, at that age you think the world exists solely for you! You are more positive when you are young as well and always ready to try something new – most times without questioning.

Follow your instinct – it’s hardly ever wrong. Something tugging at you from the inside telling you to go for it (or not)? Listen and follow. Caution: This doesn’t apply when you are standing on the 13th floor of a high riser looking out of the window and wondering what it would feel like to fly!!

Eat well. Keep junk food to the minimum. Eat lots of fruit and veg, and drink lots of water. And exercise. You’ll be grateful you did as you watch yourself age gracefully. But then again, I am sure you’ve heard this all before.

Learn the finance and business lingo – women please take note. Do you walk past the Financial Times thinking, ‘Oh it’s all Greek to me’? Well, don’t! Familiarize yourself with money and how you can make it work for you. You don’t need an MBA to learn about business and finance. And please don’t use the cop-out by telling yourself that your partner deals with it so you don’t need to bother yourself.
A couple of months ago, I realized that I was falling into this trap myself. I had no idea who our house was insured with (or if it was indeed insured), whether or not we had life insurance, how the car tax got paid. Ditto council tax, ditto electricity bills, ditto water bills. It came as a shock to me because I was floating along merrily in my own little bubble, letting my husband sort it all out. If you find you are doing the same thing – then pull yourself out of your ignorance right now! Get out the files tagged ‘Bills’, ‘House’ and ‘Bank Statements’ and study them. If you’re stuck, ring or look up the relevant agencies on the internet and read their FAQ’s on their website. And if you are in England, listen to BBC Radio Four’s Money Box program. You can pick up loads of useful tips. And have a one to one financial update with your partner at least once a month.

Educate yourself on things to do with money- there are loads of books out there to help you on your way. If you don’t like to read, then get the audio versions of books and load them onto your ipod. Listen to motivational tapes, read autobiographies, and if possible, have a mentor. Motivate yourself!

Save. Always have something put away for a rainy day. As soon as your paycheck hits your account, take something out, it doesn’t matter how much or how little, and put it aside. Look for savings accounts that will maximize your money. Switch banks if you need to.

Take advantage of opportunities when they come your way especially if they are beneficial and will put you one step closer to achieving your dream.

Pick your friends carefully. Drop those who drag you down or away from your dreams. Surround yourself with positive, forward thinking people.

You will grow old. When you are 18, 25 seems ancient. Now that I am 36, 40 doesn’t seem so old after all! Life on earth doesn’t go on forever so use the time you have well.

Picture courtesy of Daily Candy


Blogger BGCTY said...

Very good informatiom..
**I'm taking notes**

11:33 pm  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

I was thinking of this not long ago. Well, I was thinking of my own existence. I imagined myself a much older man (75yr) and I wondered what advice I would give me at 38 years of age. I know the answer to some of the things and others are a mystery. I think eating well, saving and carefully picking my friends would be at the top of my list. Thanks!

1:38 pm  
Blogger Onada said...

well said!

8:11 pm  
Blogger kristen said...

I really enjoyed reading your commentso I can see where your coming from and the advice is well worth any ones time reading and taking notes.

1:05 am  
Blogger Ore said...

I like this, especially "Follow Your Instincts" and "Take Risks."

10:19 am  
Blogger adefunke said...

Interesting, you have managed to capture what I have spent my census holiday thinking about.

12:50 pm  

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