Ian Sanders is an author, trainer and life coach.
During a video call to my friend John in Baltimore during the first lockdown of 2020, we reflected on the strange times we found ourselves in. John likened our lives before the pandemic to busy snow globes: there was so much going on, we couldn't see clearly. Then life as we knew it stopped. And then, as the snowflakes began to settle, we were given a chance to take stock of what really matters.
The events of 2020 into 2021 have shaken us up. Whether we're running our own business or working inside an organization, none of us actually know what's around the corner. This uncertainty, coupled with this sense of taking stock, has given rise to a new feeling: that it's now or never. It's time to design the life we really want.
Yet, when it comes to advice about ‘living your best life’, there are so many hacks, tips and hype out there that it's easy to get overwhelmed. So, where to start? My advice is to look within, and tune in to exactly what you need in order to have the life you want. After all, nobody's a better expert on being you – and what you need – than you are.
Knowing what you need starts with noticing. Take Nick. When Nick began a new job in London's Canary Wharf, he tried an experiment. Instead of taking the tube, he opted for the river bus along the Thames. Much slower by far, but this uncrowded commute along the river made a big difference to Nick's day. So much so, he continued doing it.
Over the past 10 years I've been consciously tuning into what I need. When I have positive experiences, I note them down. I call it my Good Times list. Stepping away from my desk. Getting out for a coffee. Finding daily moments of joy. Simply jotting down all those positive moments and experiences makes me aware of what I need to do to have a good day.
Then, curious about how others design their own work lives, I began a journey of exploration and discovery. Through workshopping with teams in organizations, mentoring others, having conversations with experts – as well as experimenting with my own habits and behaviors – I've learned a lot.
So, to redesign your own life, how can you tune in to what you need? Start by embracing an experimental mindset; be a work in progress. Try different things. It's about switching on your radar to what you enjoy, and intentionally doing more of it. Incorporate life-enhancing routines and rituals into your everyday life.
Take a look at your snow globe: what can you see? What is it that really matters to you? Wouldn't it be a shame if we just slipped back into the old ways of doing things? If we didn't grasp this opportunity for a reset?
So, take control – discover what you need, find out what works and then make a commitment to it. Whatever it is that's sacred to you, make sure it's present in your life. And here's to more good days.