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This is the second post in a three part series where I suggest various “what ifs” for the new year instead of typical advice about making resolutions.

Read Part 1

Part 2 contains some bigger, more challenging ideas about what you could possibly do during 2013 – and it just so happens that the first three are things which I did during 2012, so this is partly an annual review for me also.

What if.. you ditched the day job?

I’ve now been self-employed for 11 months. Honestly, I still feel a bit like I’m driving on a unfamiliar country road at night with only headlights to show the way (an analogy I read recently but can’t remember where!), but I do feel like I’m getting gradually closer to my goal of getting paid to do meaningful work that I’m passionate about.

I’m so grateful that I received enough redundancy/severance pay to keep me going whilst I tried out various ways of making cash as a freelancer. I’m not sure I would have lasted this long otherwise.

If you’re thinking of doing the same, please be prepared, be ready and don’t expect it to be easy. Was it worth it? Yes. But don’t expect miracles in the first year unless you have a very good client base and business plan. Allow time for emotional and physical recovery, especially if you’ve had a tough time of it at your job or been unhappy in your work for several years. And allow time for celebration and enjoyment too!

Below is a summary of Season 1 of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries, in case you missed it. To access all 14 episodes, you can subscribe to the newsletter.

What if.. you gave up drinking?

As regular readers will know, I gave up drinking on 1st October 2012 in order to raise money for Charity:Water and to experience a ‘Year of Clarity’. I was delighted to raise more than double my original target thanks to some extremely generous friends, family and readers of this blog. A massive thank you again if you were one of the people who contributed!

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a drink, getting drunk is great fun, but for me it was beginning to have more downsides than upsides, and I wanted to see how things would be without it.

It’s now been 3 months, and whilst my social life has been pretty quiet because I’ve felt less inclined to go out,  I’m enjoying the novelty of being sober. I won’t pretend I feel great every day, but it has meant I’ve done more exercise and been a little more organised (though I still have a long way to go!). New Year’s Eve was the only time I’ve really missed having a wee drink.

What if.. you took up meditation?

I’ve now done 48 days of meditation using the Headspace programme and I’m really seeing the benefits in terms of how much more ‘clear-minded’ and generally better it makes me feel – I highly recommend it. This is something I don’t think I could have done if I was still drinking regularly.

What if.. you gave yourself until February to put your New Year’s goals into action?

December is a busy month, and the New Year can creep up on us, meaning we barely have time to catch a breath before the 1st of January, never mind deciding how we’re going to live for the next 12 months. During this podcast I recorded with Fabian Kruse of the Friendly Anarchist, he suggests waiting until the beginning of February before even trying to start a new schedule.

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That suits me this year especially, because I left my job at the beginning of February 2012, so my first year of freelancing isn’t strictly over for another month. That buys me some time to catch up.

Our mutual friend Michael Nobbs over at Sustainably Creative has also decided to take this approach, and is inviting people to join him in ‘a month of reflection and planning’ during January.

Giving yourself some space and time for planning is a great way of taking the pressure off. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, I’d advise you to try it, and I guarantee you will feel a sense of relief at not having to change your entire life all at once!

And you might even find, by taking the pressure off, you actually achieve more of what’s really important.

I’ll be back with the final part of this series tomorrow, in the meantime, I’d love it if you shared your achievements during 2012 in the comments.

What are you most proud of from the last 12 months and do you have any major goals for 2013?

8 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the round up Milo, and it’s good to hear your progress over the year. I’ve gradually been drinking less too as I’ve just not fancied it but I’ve also decided to go alcohol free for January and maybe continue after depending how I feel. As you shared, an upside is more exercise. I like the idea of spending January preparing plans for the year – that takes the pressure off. Keep up the good work! :)

    Jen

    • Thanks very much Jen!

      I think giving up drink entirely seems a bit extreme to many people, but the benefit is that it’s one less decision to make on a day to day basis. As I’m naturally quite a lazy person it does help, as you say, not to have the hangover excuse for not exercising!

      Hope your Jan planning goes well and look forward to seeing what you get up to during 2013 :)

  2. “Not having to change your entire life at once” — but isn’t that kind of fun?? My leap into the great blue yonder is coming up soon, and I’m enjoying the glee all I can, since I KNOW there is a dreadful fear lurking beneath, but I’m hoping to push through it and get enough practice being gutsy that it eventually starts to become a skill.
    So I won’t be reflecting too much in January, but that’s OK, since I spent good portions of 2011 and 2012 doing it, right?
    Margaret recently posted..When in Doubt, Part 6: Average a Book a Week, Or, Be Voracious

    • Sounds like you’re done with the reflection and ready for action Margaret! Excited to see how things take off for you once you make that leap :)

  3. Hi Milo. I’m enjoying the “What if…?”s. Gonna see how far I can get into January without booze. Have also been enjoying the headspace stuff – it’s things like the headspace app that make me think maybe I will hang on to my iPhone. The positive side of the technology.
    Today I’m starting my “non-doing” log.
    Take it easy but keep it up! C

    • Thanks Ceri. The Headspace app is really handy. Having to turn on my laptop isn’t conducive to meditation – nor is messing around with transferring mp3s.

      Won’t your non-doing log be a blank page? Or is that the whole point?

      I’ll keep it up in an leisurely fashion. Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda! (hope Google translate was right about this one!)

  4. Funny you should ask what we achieved in 2012. I just made a list of all the things I did for the first time and it ran to two pages, which surprised me. They weren’t necessarily all things that you would shout from the rooftops, and there were one or two negatives, but it seemed like a worthwhile exercise and a slightly different way to ‘review’ the year.

    One of my biggest achievements was just last week. I managed to write 5000 words in less than a week, and have completed a 12,000 word draft of my football-related creativity ‘guide’. Not bad for something that was going to start as a 1000 word blog post!

    Part of me thinks I would love to the ditch my day job, but I’m trying not to be too eager in that thought as I can appreciate the massive change it would bring about.

    Don’t drink an awful lot, but am thinking that I might need to give up chocolate. Again by coincidence, I’ve just written a new blog post about the sheer volume of chocolate I was given for Christmas. My whole attitude to life is altering bit by bit, and that’s mostly thanks to the work I’m doing toward my creative goals.

    Thanks for the round-up, Milo, looking forward to part 3. Thoughtful and inspiring advice as ever, if we have to wait until February for you to finish planning the year ahead then so be it – I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait! :-)
    Paul recently posted..Past, Presents and Future

    • Congratulations on finishing the first draft of your football-related creativity ‘guide’ Paul, I’m looking forward to reading it, although much of it may be over my head!

      I like the title of your most recent post too.

      Ah yes, chocolate. One thing I wasn’t very disciplined about over the Christmas week was sugary things in general, but now I’m reluctantly going back to having treats only on a Friday or Saturday night.

      “my whole attitude to life is altering bit by bit, and that’s mostly thanks to the work I’m doing towards my creative goals”. This is music to my ears! Happy New Year Paul, and thanks for all of your comments and support throughout 2012 :)