Today I'm going to take you through a daydream (you might call it a "thought experiment"). So grab a mug of your favorite beverage, get yourself comfy, and read on...
A genie appears to you and explains that he's going to take care of everything for you for three months. The bills will all be paid, your job will be done expertly, your dependents will be looked after, your house will be kept clean, your goldfish will be fed. For the next three months, you're free. When the three months are up, you have the option of starting a new career, moving to a new city, or even leaving behind friends and family.
The genie has just two conditions:
- You have to try at least one thing you've never done before (but have perhaps always secretly wanted to do) during those three months
- You have to spend the three months doing things that you want to do, rather than things you feel you should do.
What Do You Do During The Three Months?
Grab a piece of paper, and write or draw a few things that indicate what you'd do with three completely free months, to do whatever you want with (remembering that at least one thing has to be something you've never done before).
Your list can be absolutely anything you like. It'll probably include some things where you've said "If I won the lottery, I would..." or "I wish I had the time to..." or "If I started over again, I'd..."
Here's some examples, big and small, of things you could write on your list:
- I would travel around Europe for a month.
- I would read a bedtime story with my children every night.
- I would finally start to get fit.
- I would learn a foreign language.
- I would take a computer science class.
- I would start writing a novel.
- I would volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- I would get back in touch with some old friends.
- I would visit all the art galleries in my home city.
- I would go to the theater every week.
What Would You Do Afterward?
Once the three months are up, would you go back to your job?
Would you go back to your home city?
Would you stay with your family and friends?
Of course, your experiences during those three months would have a strong bearing on those questions. For example, if you're currently in a strained relationship with your partner and children because you rarely spend much time with them, you might find that you all get along much better after they have three months of your unstressed presence! If you've never traveled outside your country, you might find that you want to live on the opposite side of the world.
Even so, if you know that you would hate to go back to your current job, or dread returning to your house, then write that down.
Making It Real
You may be wondering what the point of this is. After all, there is no genie. No-one's about to come and take care of your life for you while you swan off for three months...
But, think about this. What would it take for you to be able to have a three-month sabbatical - or even a month off? It might mean saving up for a while, either cutting back on spending, or working some overtime. It might mean some tricky negotiations with your boss. But don't rule it out as a possibility.
I read Escape 101: The Four Secrets to Taking a Sabbatical or Career Break Without Losing Your Money or Your Mind a few months ago. I'd already made the decision to leave my job and freelance then, but for anyone with a "traditional" job - especially if they have kids too - this is an excellent book. There's also a blog, Escape 101. If you think that taking a career break, or designing the lifestyle of your dreams, is impossible, try seriously looking into the possibilities.
Look back at that list of what you'd like to do: you can start on some of them right now. If you want to write a novel, how about finding just a spare hour, twice a week, to get started? If you want to go to the theater or to museums more often, how about picking one to visit this weekend?
It's easy to put off chasing our dreams because we become so busy with the things we think we should be doing, or worse, with the things we've just somehow ended up doing - without any conscious thought about it. Start taking control again today.
What would you with your three free months? How can you make your daydreams real?
|Written on 12/11/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (email@example.com) or check out her website at Aliventures. Republished 1/3/2010|