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5 Steps to Achieving the Life of your Dreams without Burning out on the Way

Do what you can, where you can, with what you have - Teddy Roosevelt

Just when did your life get so complicated and how did ‘busy’ end up replacing ‘happy’?

Is this how you wanted it to be when you started out? Or has your life slowly evolved into an endless to-do list? You tick off ‘achievements’ at the end of every day, but that doesn’t make you feel better for very long, because there’s always more to-dos to tag onto the bottom.

And if your successful life doesn’t give you the time to do the things you want to do or be with the people you want to be with, is that really success at all?

If you’re happy with who you’ve become, then that’s great, but do you sometimes find yourself thinking there must be another way?

Life is too short to live someone else’s

Life on the ‘busyness’ merry-go-round can end up making us feel a bit dizzy and out of control.

Yes, there are the highs but there are plenty of lows too.

Perhaps you set the achievement bar so high because you felt you had to. Getting more means being more, doesn’t it? That seems to be what the world expects. Way back, perhaps you learned you had to achieve to win the approval of your parents? Parental approval means a lot to a child, and to an adult too for that matter. But parental love should not be conditional or need to be earned.

As a therapeutic coach, I regularly use the holistic wheel of life to assess whether my clients are living a life which allows them to get their emotional needs met because when our needs are met in balance, we feel good about life.

Less is more

James was a real high flyer.

He’d been in advertising for five years and his career had really taken off. Yet James felt he was starting to burn out and described feeling, ‘empty inside’. Something was missing, he said, but he didn’t know what. This soon became apparent when we started work on the life wheel.

‘To be honest’, he told me ‘the sections of this life wheel should read work, work, work all way round. There’s not much else going on.’

Well we don’t need to look much further for the roots of your empty feeling, James’ I observed. ‘Perhaps it’s time to identify the kind of life that would actually make you happy rather than one focused on getting results, then we can start work creating a plan to start working towards that.’

James had to decide what his priorities were. He had to decide what, and who, really mattered to him. This would actually mean doing less and being more.

The ability to say no is an important life skill if you want to achieve balance, rather than just getting caught in the busy trap.

It’s so easy to buy into the illusion that ‘busyness ‘equals ‘effectiveness’. But that rather confuses quantity with quality and, if you work smarter rather than harder, you can actually do less whilst achieving so much more.

The answer is not to do more, but to do what matters and to know what matters, you have to have a clear picture of the life you really want to live; the one that will make you truly happy.

Try this

  1. If you’ve got a busy diary, you may need to schedule in an appointment with yourself when you can hop off the merry-go-round for long enough to let the mental whiplash settle and you can think more clearly.
  2. Create a vision board of images that represent that life.
  3. Put it in a place where you can see it every day.
  4. Start every day by closing your eyes and ‘seeing’ yourself living that life. Feel what it feels like. Notice the people that surround you in that future life. Look in the mirror and enjoy the image of yourself, happy and living the life of your dreams.

When you realise that real success is measured by happiness rather than status, you can allow yourself to step off the ‘busyness’ merry-go-round.

And you’ll probably find that endless to-do list gets shorter all by itself.


Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.