New year, new mountains to climb. Photo: S Qua

New Year, New Anxieties

2016 has finally arrived and I’m feeling anxious. What I am anxious about, I’m not entirely sure. It could be a whole host of things:

  • The fact that I left my stable, well paid job at the end of last year with no view of permanent employment again for quite some months.
  • The fact that I really want to make a massive change to my career this year and start something that really makes an impact on society, but am not sure where to begin.
  • I have a limited amount of cash saved to get me through the next few months but I want to make the most of this time.
  • The desire to make 2016 a successful year, as opposed to one where I counted down the days for almost 8 months.

The Plan

I didn’t leave my job on a whim, I had been planning it for the majority of 2015. Why? Because I needed to get out. When I returned from a two-week holiday in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, suffering from the worst case of post-holiday blues, I knew it was time to take the bull by the horns. It wasn’t the first time I had felt that way. Every time I returned from a holiday in Asia, I’d come back feeling terrible with the longing desire to chuck it all in and return to Asia.

Successes to Date

I vowed to get my finances in order so that I could make a drastic change in 2016. So far, I have succeeded. I have the finances in place to keep me going for several months. What comes next though is still somewhat daunting and I am in between a rock and hard place. In an ideal world, I would rent out my flat and just go to Asia and see what opportunities arise. I can’t do this though as my boyfriend, who loves his job, is currently based here in London. We have discussed moving but realistically, any long term move for us is unlikely to happen this year. So what am I going to do this year?

The Short Term Fix

I have signed up as a Social Enterprise/Social impact Consultant via _SocialStarters. I have chosen the Sri Lanka Programme as it’s a place I have never been. Additionally, I am curious to understand how the country is rebuilding itself after the civil war and tsunami. The hope is I will actually fulfil in my desire to have an impact on people’s lives. I hope that I will be able to help micro-start-ups establish sustainable social businesses. During my 6 weeks as a volunteer consultant I hope that I will become clearer in what I want to do long term. My preference is actually to work this out before I go but I feel a bit stuck on how to get started.

The Longer Term Goal

I’ve very much come to the conclusion that I want to work on a social/community benefit product/service but I am having difficultly pinning down what I should focus on and how much information I need to acquire. I know I am interested in skills provision, skills development, learning, personal development, designing experiences. Often though, I feel maybe I have a case of tunnel vision and I need to branch out.

I have spent the second half of 2015 trying out activities and evaluating my experiences. For some reason, none of these have really resonated with me, hence I’ve concluded that I need to identify a social benefit product/service offering. I have toyed with counselling and I quite like the idea of life coaching but how does one become qualified in this role, particularly if they haven’t found their calling themselves? I like the idea of designing physical experiences and merging that with life coaching, pushing people beyond their comfort zone to build confidence, self esteem. Packaging this up in a foreign land.

The expectations I hold for myself for this year are high. I want to achieve a lot but feel frustrated because I don’t know where to begin and perhaps this is the root cause of my anxiety.

What’s the best way to start when you don’t know how?

For me, it’s always been about drawing up lists and letting my mind wander and make connections. For the past two weeks my brain has been switched off. I have not thought about work in any shape or form as I wanted a clean break. I’ve had that now, so time for excuses is up. I need to do a brain dump and see what avenues I want to explore….

I also need to revisit my vision board as I felt I’d achieved some breakthroughs when I first created it. I need to find it a prominent place so I can see it and long for it. For those of you who don’t know what a vision board is — it’s like a mood board. You cut out images and sayings of things that resonate with you to help you identify what you are and where you want to be. My board is incomplete and could do with some updating.

My Vision Board

I am very much motivated by what I see — it has worked for me in the past, so I shall return to the tried and tested.

I need to create some SMART goals. I’ve never been one for new year resolutions as I like to set myself goals I want to achieve over the course of the year. I’ve been thinking about these for quite some time but putting them down on paper will help me focus and become accountable.

For now, I feel I have somewhere to start. Let’s hope this helps alleviate the anxiety.

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