The biggest challenge to getting your family lifestyle lined up with your dreams is knowing where to start.
The process of getting from where you are to where you want to be can at times seem so overwhelming that most people just don’t attempt to start.
Let’s face it. You know where you are. Sort of. Or maybe you don’t? Either way, you can’t get this process started until you do know where your family’s lifestyle stands right now. So let’s lay it all out in front of you.
Maybe you have a job. Or your spouse does. Or you both work. Perhaps your work takes both of you away from home every weekday.
Let’s say that your kids go to a local school. Or maybe to several different schools. They have friends in the neighborhood. And they are involved in tons of activities that have turned you and/or your partner into a minivan taxi driver.
You have friends in the community. You have put some time and effort into the kid’s school PTA, or you are coaching their soccer team. You’ve made an investment into the institutions of your community.
You also may have relatives nearby. Perhaps an elderly parent or two who need (or at least want) you to stop by and visit with them from time to time. And you feel an obligation to do this.
This all may sound like your current lifestyle. Or perhaps your lifestyle is quite different from this description. No matter. The point is, you now have a superficial idea of what your overall day-to-day lifestyle looks like from an independent perspective.
Your next step is to draw an outline of what your family’s lifestyle will look like when you are living the lifestyle that you know you were meant to live – one built around your true life’s purpose.
This new lifestyle may vary little from that which you have just set down. However it is equally possible that your desired lifestyle varies so significantly from that which you now live that getting from where you are to where you want to be seems a practical impossibility.
For example, perhaps you want to travel extensively. Or you want to work from home so that you can be with your children as they mature to adulthood. If your current career does not allow for this you have two choices. You can attempt to adjust the way you work your career today in order to live the way you want to live, or you can abandon your current career and search for a new method of supporting your family that allows the kind of flexibility that you need. Making either change is no small matter.
Perhaps your desired lifestyle requires that your family leave your current neighborhood behind. That means abandoning schools, friends, family, and projects that may have value to you. Of course, people do this sort of thing everyday, but imagine that you will now replace all of this, not with another, very similar community with all the attendant activities you had before, but with a completely different group of peers, with different values and lifestyles than your family has accepted up until now as “normal.” These new peers and their values may suit you better. They may be more in keeping with the real you and with your true values. But the change can still come as a shock to you and your family. Your children, especially teens, may think that you have lost your mind and just want to go back to their friends and to hanging out at the mall.
You may be transitioning from public school to homeschooling. With the former, many families rely almost exclusively on the schools to “educate” their children. Suddenly you are taking on the role of educator of your children. You are also spending a heck of a lot more time with your family. This new closeness may be one of your goals. But it can also lead to new and surprising tensions as you all actually start to get to know each other well, perhaps for the first time.
Extended family, particularly if they are of a traditional bent, may disagree, perhaps quite vocally, with the new direction that you are taking your family. In-laws may accuse you of child abuse simply because you choose to raise your children in an environment different than they raised their kids. There is a lot of ignorance out there, and there is a good chance that you will run into some of it during this process.
I am sure that you can see immediately that changing the direction and lifestyle of your family in mid-stride is a daunting task. It is this sense of being overwhelmed and of not knowing where to start, or even if what you are doing is the right thing to do, that prevents most folks from even starting the process. It is the self doubt and fear that creep into your consciousness, encouraged no doubt by a nagging in-law or two, that are most likely to stop you from ever beginning your journey.
It is at this moment that you must decide. Do you want to be happy, or not? Do you want to be an exceptional parent, or just a mediocre one? Do you want to live out your life’s purpose, or just the life that fate has randomly handed to you? And finally, do you want to live your life now, or do you want to take a chance and wait until your kids are grown, independent and off on their own, so that you can begin your carefree life in retirement?
As for this last option, which is the option that I believe most people follow by default, consider your older friends and relatives who have taken this course before you. How many of them successfully stayed married while waiting for this moment to arrive, living a less than satisfying life and unconsciously blaming their spouse for their emptiness and exhaustion? How many of them had their health when they finally retired? How many of them have hangers-on adult kids, and help support a grandchild or two with the money they had been saving for their dream life? And how many simply died before they ever even got a start on their dreams?
It’s up to you whether you take on the challenge that is living your life. But I will tell you this. If you think that you can put off living your true life’s purpose forever, you are wrong. Old age comes at you fast. Don’t believe me? Just ask an old person. They’ll tell ya.
If you are ready to get started living the life that you were truly meant to live, then prepare yourself. You are about to begin your own “Family Lifestyle Design” project. And you will be, probably for the first time in your life, the architect of your own family’s lifestyle masterpiece.
All the best,