My 30-Day Life Overhaul

IMG_2125-750x500If you had told me 30 days ago that in the next 4 weeks I would fly myself to Spain for a job interview, accept an offer to join a tiny European company (in an industry I didn’t even know existed), willingly consent to move to a new country every 3 months as part of the position, and quit my job as a management consultant in New York City, I probably would have demanded you drag me to the nearest shrink to make sure I hadn’t totally gone off the deep-end yet.

But alas, this is the truth, and I am delighted to announce my escape from doing something I wasn’t really happy doing, but just too scared or confused about how to make things better – a situation not uncommon for today’s 20-somethings who find themselves caught between high ambitions and the murky waters of reality.

Fortunately, my experience has proven to me what people are capable of when we simply resolve to make things happen and throw all caution to the wind in fierce pursuit of our goals.

Here’s the full run-down on what I have done in the past 30 days in case we need to catch-up a little bit…

– Resolved to change my life by getting a new job in a new geographical location

– Secured job interviews in support of that desired change

– Flew myself to Europe for a shot at a dream position

– Underwent three full days of tough interviews

– Got offered the job

– Accepted it on the spot

– Negotiated my new job’s official start date

– Officially quit my job in New York, turned down counter-offers, and defended my decisions to onlookers

– Began packing up my apartment in New York and figuring out how I will live with only 23kg of belongings for the indefinite future

– Flew to Asia to spend a month backpacking through Taiwan and Japan

– Pinched myself about 500 times to make sure this was all really happening

As I plow through so much change in such a short period of time, it’s pretty much a miracle that I haven’t had a crippling nervous breakdown by now. Instead, I’m finding myself energized by the changes I have been able to make in an effort to take life by the balls and stop complaining about being in a position that I didn’t like.

Here are a few reflections on what I have learned and experienced in the past several weeks that have helped me achieve these results. Hopefully this will inspire you to create powerful change in your own life, as well!

First things first, it is vital to know exactly how you want to change your life and have a clear vision of what your ideal situation would look like. Once you identify what change you want (a new apartment, a better relationship, a different job…), you can then develop your plan of attack. For example, I knew that I wanted to leave consulting, work in a new industry, and live overseas, so I was able to focus on finding international jobs in smaller, non-corporate environments, which minimized the time I spent searching and allowed me to execute my goal faster.

I would personally recommend only trying to change one major aspect of your life at a time. Trying to lose 15 pounds, get a new boyfriend, and job hunt all at the same time will leave you exhausted – and probably fat, lonely, and unemployed, too.

Second, give yourself a firm deadline. If you tell yourself, “I am moving to Los Angeles on June 1, 2013,” that goal becomes a hell of a lot more tangible than “I’d really like to live in LA in the future.” Then TELL EVERYONE (within reason), “I’m doing X by Y date!” You might have a countdown going on Facebook or choose to write about it on your blog. It doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t keep your new vision of change and your deadline a secret. Public accountability increases the likelihood of follow-through!

The next step is to implement your plan with unapologetic tunnel vision. You are motivated to change your life, you have a deadline, and your friends and family are cheering you on – now it is time to execute with an inexhaustible gusto! For weeks before, and certainly during, the 3-day interview process for my new job in Spain, I did not eat, sleep, or remotely even consider doing anything else except preparing for the selection process. In the end, my tunnel vision paid off – and I left Barcelona with one of only two coveted job offers in hand! The key was putting blinders on to anything that did not support achieving my goal and doing it at 110mph. I hunkered down and got shit done, and my post-victory celebrations have been especially sweet.

Once changes are taking place, it is important to not second guess yourself. I’ll be honest – when I realized that taking this new, exciting job meant having to actually call my boss to QUIT my current job (and sign lots of serious documents, cancel my benefits, give back my cell phone, laptop, corporate card…), I got some serious cold feet. “Am I making the right decision?” “Isn’t this all happening a little too fast?” “What if…?” But I was able to reassure myself with the strength of my original vision and proceed with confidence in my decision-making abilities.

I also learned that nerves are totally normal and don’t mean you are doing anything wrong; they just indicate your body’s awareness that unfamiliar, but exciting things are happening. As you adapt to your new circumstances, those red-hot nerves will fizzle out.

The last, perhaps most important thing I’ve learned in the past month of making head-spinning, whirlwind life changes, is to just take it one day at a time. If I had thought about all the mind-numbing logistics and other fear-inducing things I would have to tackle along the way (like literally selling everything I own except one suitcase full of clothes), I may have never even had the courage to start down this path in the first place. And then I would still be sitting behind my desk in New York, wondering what life would be like if I just left it all behind for awhile. So I allow myself to handle about 3 tasks per day related to the change I’m making (today: negotiate Verizon contract termination, cancel corporate card, and secure a new subletter for my apartment), and spend the rest of the time trying to enjoy the present moment.

This has been my formula for success (and sanity) over the past several weeks, and I believe you can radically change your life in this time frame, as well. Finding a new job, losing weight, reviving a friendship, getting a boyfriend, learning a new skill, breaking a bad habit, moving to a new city, you name it – it can be done in 30 days if you have the vision, a deadline, confidence, and the determination to execute.

Elaina is a former management consultant turned legal nomad. She travels to a new country every 3 months as a journalist and international sales executive. She also is the author of One Voice In The Big City (onevoiceinthebigcity.tumblr.com).

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