Well here I am again, starting the New Year with good intentions – and re-starting the Life Circle project. Thankfully for me, as I fell by the wayside previously, Kate at The Five F’s Blog is re-starting the Life Circle project and this time I’m determined to finish it.
Week one of the 2012 version of the Life Circle is a getting to know you task – it’s an introductory week where we’ve been asked to disclose some background information so that other Life Circlers know a bit about us before we embark on our journey together.
So, who am I? I’m a 39 year old single parent of one, and I work part time in an advertising agency where I’ve worked for the previous nine years. Until around two years ago I was full time but reduced my working hours for numerous reasons that can be best summed up by the phrase ‘better work life balance’. The fact that I’m 39 is significant – I see 40 as a major milestone and by the time my birthday comes around in September, I’d like to have a plan for the future and a better idea of where I’m heading.
My favourite things include cats, cooking (and eating the results!), The Big Bang Theory and Jodi Picoult books. I love the colour turquoise. I think Simon Baker from The Mentalist has the most gorgeous, enticing and seductive smile I have ever seen. I would love the gift of hindsight. My current favourite item of clothing is my new fluffy purple dressing gown. I’m in a slight state of denial about approaching 40. I hate being cold. I’m essentially very lazy and can be a terrible procrastinator but am taking steps to improve – I’ll start working on it tomorrow. In the meantime, you can find out a bit more about me here.
I’m doing the Life Circle because I feel I’ve got a bit stale and stagnant. I kind of plod along in life without much direction or focus, living day to day without much thought for the future. I’ve got to a point now where I need to work out what I’d like to achieve in the future, where I want to be – who I want to be. I’m hoping the Life Circle will help me to work that out.
I originally started on the Life Circle project back in September but fell by the wayside. However, I’m going to leave those posts up so people can see any progress I make in 2012 and also see where I’ve had a re-think or changed direction in the last few months.
Writing this post has re-motivated me again and I’m looking forward to getting started on the first task, which will be set on Saturday. Let’s get started!
The astute among you will notice that I’ve jumped from week 3 to week 6. Ooops. And I’m not going to actually do the week 6 task. Double ooops. The reason being, I’ve got too far behind to feel that I can currently give tasks 4-6 the time and attention they deserve.
There are several reasons for this – unfortunately I was ill for over a week and missed working on two tasks, then the build up of tasks became somewhat overwhelming. Also, when looking over the first few tasks, I realised that some of the things I’d already written had changed, so I need to do a post amending some of my goals, for example. Thankfully, Kate is going to re-start the Life Circle in the New Year, so I’m planning to pick up where I left off then.
Upon restarting the course, I’d prefer the tasks to be set on a Saturday ready to be worked on over the weekend and early part of the week, then linked up on the following Thursday. I think this would give more time to consider the task in full, then have a few days off before getting the next task set.
Personally I’m feeling a bit low at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s the grey, dank weather, my severe lack of money, the lack of exciting things to look forward to – but I’m hoping that by January this will have passed and I’ll be ready to pick up the Life Circle again.
Until then, Happy Christmas Life Circlers!
Time for week 3 of the Life Circle! This week’s task was to review the results of the previous exercises and set some goals, aims and plans for my life. Then, once I’ve listed my goals, I need to analyse whether my list is too big or small, too hard or easy and how committed I am to achieving these goals. The good thing is there are are no right or wrong answers on this, just goals that are right for me. I’ve tried to make my goals specific, time-defined and measurable, so that I can tell how well (or not!) I’m doing as I go along. So here they are…
1. To go on at least one date before Christmas.
2. Put together at least one work at home business idea/plan within six months.
3. Go running at least once per week. If the weather is really bad, I’ll do an exercise DVD at home in lieu of a run.
4. Complete the Couch to 5k running programme by the end of March 2012.
5. Contact my first choice school by the end of November, to see if there are any places free for J.
6. To put items on Ebay/Gumtree/local forums at least once a month to put towards paying my debts off (subject to there being anything left in the house to sell, that is!).
7. To stop regularly drinking diet pepsi and diet coke with immediate effect.
8. See my friends at least once per month (if their schedules/family commitments allow).
9. To have a foreign holiday in 2013, whether that’s just me and J, or me, J and Mr Perfect.
10. Finally, to complete every task in the Life Circle project!
In terms of size, I think my list is just right. There’s enough to keep me challenged but not too much to make me feel like I’ve taken on too much. There are some pretty easy and achievable things, such as selling unwanted items to make a bit of extra cash, but there are also goals that take me out of my comfort zone, like the dating and running (I have major motivation issues when it comes to exercise!). In all I think these goals are just right for me but my worry is that as a perfectionist, should I ‘fail’ on any of these, I’ll beat myself up about it. Well I’ll just have to make sure I don’t fail, won’t I?!
Time for week 2 of the Life Circle. The task this week was to look at a life plan. That is, how I ideally want my life to be like in five years, two years, one year and six months’ time, especially in relation to areas covered in the Wheel of Life task from week 1, then looking at what I need to do to achieve it.
I have to admit, I found this task difficult. I think that’s because I have a tendency to change my mind about what I want in the future from one day to the next. Monday I think I’d like to meet someone decent and settle down. Tuesday I like being single so much that I can’t imagine ever living with another adult again. Wednesday I’d like another child. Thursday I like the fact my son is becoming more grown up and independent and I can’t imagine starting all over again from scratch.
So, before beginning this task, I had to have a long, hard think about what I really want from life. Part of me is still not totally decided about exactly where I’d like to be in five years’ time. For instance I enjoy being on my own as I’m pretty independent and never had that utter need to be with someone, so if things don’t go exactly as I’ve put below with regard to relationships, that will be fine. However I’ve got to a point where I’m happy with my 5 year plan, so here it is. I’ve written this down in more detail in my Blog Book (a little notebook I carry with me to write ideas down in) but I’m going to stick to an outline here so as not to bore people!
Five Year Plan
This is the long-term goal - where I want to be in five years. At that point in time I’ll be 44 years old (doesn’t bear thinking about) and J will be 10.
- I’d like to be married to a kind, considerate, faithful, reliable, solvent dark haired man who isn’t too tall. He will be my ideal partner – my best friend and soul mate. He will love and respect me and I him, plus he’ll be a fantastic step dad to J. In short, he will be Mr Perfect!
- Financially I want to have no debt except from a mortgage, which we will be working towards paying off early. There will be no major money worries and we’ll have savings.
- I’d like to be living in the same area but in a bigger house, either semi detatched or detached with 3 or 4 bedrooms, a drive, garage and big garden. I’d like J to be attending my first choice primary school (he got into and is now attending my second choice school, as we live just out of the catchment for my first choice primary).
- My lovely husband will have a nice, kind, friendly family who we will be close to, yet not suffocatingly so. My parents will still be around and in good health. J will be thriving and I’d like to have had at least one more child, possibly two. I’ll have a wider circle of genuine friends, but not too many – quality over quantity every time!
- I would ideally like to be working from home, preferably running my own business part time so that I can fit it around the kids.
- I’ll have the opportunity and spare money to do evening classes, and will have done at least one in Spanish plus perhaps a career-related one.
- Health-wise my kidney disease will still be stable and under control, and won’t have progressed any further. I’ll be running regularly, eating well and in great shape for a 44 year old! By then I want to have run at least one half marathon and other shorter races, all in aid of kidney research charities.
- I’ll be going out more, both with my husband and with friends, and have two holidays per year with at least one being abroad.
So in summary, in five years I’ll have achieved a good, solid relationship/marriage, extended my family, have a lovely home, established home working, have a good social circle and be fit, healthy and running races for kidney charities. I don’t want much, do I?!
Two Year Plan
This is where I’ll need to be in two years in order to achieve the things in the five year plan.
- I’ll be engaged and/or living together with Mr Perfect. I’ll either be pregnant or planning to be.
- We’ll be house hunting/just bought a house.
- I’ll have decided on my home working career and be making moves to set it up.
- I’ll be confidently running 10k on a regular basis with no problems.
- My debts will be totaly paid off.
- My social life will have improved and I’ll be going out more often.
- I’d like J to be settled in my first choice school and have lots of friends.
One Year Plan
This is significant because I’ll have just turned 40 this time next year.
- I’ll be in a relationship with Mr Perfect and my friendship circle will be starting to expand.
- Still employed but working towards my future goal of working from home.
- I’ll be well on the way to paying off my debts and will have slightly more disposable income to spend on myself.
- I’d like J to be at my first choice school.
- My health will be good and I’ll have completed the 5k to 10k running programme (the one after Couch to 5k).
Six Month Plan
Six months’ time is 13th April 2012, which seems about five minutes’ away!
- I’ll be going out more and will have met Mr Perfect.
- I’ll be starting to set up additional income streams and looking at my options for working from home.
- I’ll be exercising more and eating good food – avoiding caffeine and aspartame and getting my five a day.
- J will have either moved schools or I’ll at least have enquired as to whether there are spaces at my first choice school.
- I’ll have completed the Couch to 5k running programme.
Looking at all the above I can see that some things are more urgent than others. I’d like to settle down and have at least one more child, so will need to start dating – somehow - pretty soon. In order to pay off debts and have more disposable income, I need to look into extra income streams and decide on my long-term career because although I know I’d love to work from home, I’ve no idea what that career will be. I’m actually surprised that moving house isn’t as important to me than I thought it was, and that moving J to a better school is a lot more important than I thought. With that in mind, the first action I’m going to implement is to call my first choice school and enquire whether they have places in J’s year.
The huge amount of changes I need to make to achieve my five year plan makes me feel somewhat overwhelmed. I have no idea how I’m going to achieve a lot of the above or even what the finer details are. I can see that it will take motivation on my part and that it will take me out of my comfort zone. I just hope it will be worth it.
Ok, so here I go with week 1 of the Life Circle, led by Kate from The Five Fs blog. Week 1 is an analysis of the Wheel of Life, which aims to help the user to see where the strengths and weaknesses in their life are, what areas need working on and is (hopefully) a springboard to improvement. As I’m new to blogging and am a bit of a technophobe, I’ve no idea how to drop in the code for the Life Circle badge, which is why it’s missing. Should I work out how to do this – or if anyone could advise me how to - I’ll add it in later. However my wheel, plus the corresponding results, are detailed below, so I can start working on myself in the weeks to come (how hippy-dippy does that sound!).
Fun and Recreation: 4
I’m starting on a relatively negative note here. I’ve put this as 4 because I don’t really have a huge amount of fun and recreation in terms of going out - I can’t even remember the last night out I had. The main reason for this is my friends are all married with kids so, somewhat understandably, don’t want to go out. I’m also a single parent and J’s ’dad’ (I use the term loosely) chose never to see him, so I don’t get every other weekend off like some single parents do. Then there’s a lack of money, which I’ll detail later on.
On a more positive note J and I enjoy trips to the park and days out, plus I took him on holiday abroad this year (which I’m now struggling to pay off – see Finance), so it’s not all doom and gloom. However from looking at this, I’d say there are improvements that need to be made.
I currently work in an advertising agency, where I’ve worked for almost nine years. Around 18 months ago I reduced my hours from full time to three days per week which took some of the pressure off, and I’m grateful to have such a supportive, flexible employer. However as we all know, times are tough and I don’t think many people where I work feel safe, so I could do with looking into alternative ways of upping my income base in case the worst happens.
I kind of fell into the world of marketing and advertising – it wasn’t a conscious choice to do this as a career. I was a desperate graduate, a job was advertised, I applied, and 14 years later I’m still in the same industry. The problem is, at the age of 39 I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! I know that I’d like to run my own business at some point, preferably from home to fit around J, so this is an area I definitely want to look at developing.
I’ve given this a 6 because although I’m in good health at the moment, I’m somewhat unfit and find myself increasingly having to fight the flab. I’m not hugely overweight but as I’m only 5′ 1″ any excess weight shows, so I could do with losing a few pounds and toning up. I like to pretend it’s just down to my age but the truth is I’m addicted to junk food and don’t do enough exercise. There I said it. I need to eat less and move more. Sounds simple…doesn’t it? I started doing the Couch 2 5K running programme earlier this summer but had to stop in the school holidays and just haven’t managed to get back into it yet. Lack of motivation is a big obstacle for me in many areas.
I find my mental health varies and I’m prone to bouts of anxiety and mild depression, particularly at times of stress and during the winter months. As winter approaches, I need to head this off at the pass.
The other main health issue for me is two years ago I was diagnosed with the chronic kidney disease Mesangiocapillary Glomerulonephritis (MCGN). Once you have kidney disease you can never get rid of it, which is a very depressing thought if I let myself think about it for too long. Thankfully it’s currently controlled with medication and although in theory the condition could relapse at any time, I’m grateful that it’s not presently causing me any day to day issues.
Personal Development: 5
I put this at a 5 because I think it’s an achievement in itself that I’ve started looking into personal development. I’ve started this blog for a start! And as I mentioned earlier I want to look into increasing my income streams. It’s not got a higher score because I’d love to do an evening class – I’ve always fancied learning Spanish – but time, money and lack of babysitters put paid to that, at least for the time being. I also fancy starting a hobby and am considering looking into making hand made cards, mainly for fun but hopefully they’ll be good enough to give to people.
Friends and Family: 6
I’ve put this at 6 because I’m so blessed and grateful to have my son J, plus although my parents are both pensioners they are happy, relatively healthy and very supportive. Where things fall down is on the friends front. I only have a few friends and most are busy with their husbands and children. One lovely, close friend lives down South so we don’t see each other as often as I’d like. My only male friend I mainly communicate with via MSN but he’s very handy for a male point of view! I definitely need to look into expanding my friendship groups but I don’t find it easy to make small talk with people and can even be anti-social at times, so this is a very difficult thing for me to do.
I’m giving this 5 because I really like the area I live in – it’s within walking distance of the shops, school, park, library, and less than five minutes’ drive from my parents. A few things annoy me though – the lack of parking (it’s on-street only), our tiny garden and practically living on top of the neighbours. The other thing that gets my goat is the fact that I rent, because I used to own my own house and would like to again someday. Finally J goes to a school that while ok, was not my first choice school and although he’s doing well, it still irks me. It’s a good word that isn’t it, irk? In fact, is it even a word?!
I only gave this as high as 3 because I have a job and earn my own money. It didn’t get a higher score because I have debt to pay off and due to my low income I don’t have much spare money to throw at it, so paying it off seems to be taking forever. Whenever I seem to be making progress, a setback happens. For instance, I was doing ok so this summer I booked a holiday abroad. Just a month later my car fails it’s MOT leaving me several hundred pounds overdrawn. If I’d known that was going to happen I’d never have booked the holiday – these are situations I’d like to have hindsight for, please! I’m also constantly chasing the CSA to sort out maintenance payments because I only get a paltry £25 per month, but that’s another post altogether.
Romance/Significant Other: 1
I gave this area 1 because I don’t have a significant other and therefore no romance whatsoever. I split up from J’s dad 6 years ago next January, and although I’ve had a few dates in that time, none have ever gone past first date stage. This area was only saved from getting a big fat zero because I’m not even sure I actually want to be with anyone. But maybe that’s just my self protection talking. We shall see.
It’s very clear to see that many elements affect each other but I feel my low income is my biggest stumbling block. I struggle to go out partly because of lack of money, which impacts on friendships and possible romance, environment (can’t afford to move), career (no money for retraining or evening classes) etc. I think I need a lottery win (don’t we all!).
So there we are – my wheel of life is a tad poor if I’m honest. If it were a real wheel on a car, it would be in the garage. I don’t have any score higher than 6 and that tells me there’s work to do. So let’s get on and do it.
I’ve taken the plunge. No, I haven’t got married or jumped fully clothed into a swimming pool at the deep end. I’ve started a blog. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time but with procrastination being one of my best friends, I just never got around to it. However, I’ve been inspired to get off the starting blocks by this, the Life Circle project.
The Life Circle is right up my street because I’m in a bit of a rut and I’m not sure how to improve things. As I’m approaching 40 (I turned 39 earlier this month), I’m aiming to make some positive changes in my life. I’m hoping that by taking part in the Life Circle, it will give me focus, direction and inspiration. No pressure there then.
So you can get to know me a little better and maybe understand my ramblings a bit more, here are a few random facts about me:
1. I’m short (only 5’ 1” in flat shoes).
2. I’ve been a single parent since I was 17 weeks pregnant and, on the whole, it’s been a very positive experience.
3. I like to watch a lot of crap TV. I mean a lot. And I mean crap.
4. I was once a strict vegetarian for five years, but now I love meat.
5. In 2009 I was diagnosed with a form of Chronic Kidney Disease called Mesangiocapillary Glomerulonephritis (MCGN), which is currently under control with medication.
6. I used to play ice hockey. I’m using the term ‘play’ very loosely in this context. Come to think of it, I’m using the term ‘ice hockey’ quite loosely too. Think Bambi on ice.
7. My favourite colour is turquoise, I just love it.
8. I like my own company.
9. I love sunny weather and suffer from SAD in the winter.
10. I adore crisps and would happily eat them morning, noon and night if they weren’t so bad for you.
So there you are. This is me. It’s nice to meet you.