Planning a Lifestyle Change – How to make Your Life Have Meaning

Planning a lifestyle change isn’t the easiest thing to do. It first takes a desire to live a life that fits within your likes, dislikes, dreams, passions, and goals. It takes a willingness and determination to set free the person inside of you that has been pushed back because whoever she or he is, isn’t what family, friends, or even society believes you should be.

To make any changes – whether simple or drastic – can also be a frightening concept. What if you fail? What if you make mistakes? What if it is too hard? What if the pressure is too much?

an old screen door with a metal cow cut out that says 'Welcome'

I Know How That Feels

You can probably see the shock on my family and friends faces when I announced we were moving to a 60-acre farm in a very rural area. No traffic. No bright lights. And definitely no designer suits. Instead, my favorite attire is some faded jeans, a ragged tee shirt and mud-encrusted tennis shoes.

I have been there. I grew up in the city. My biggest dream was to move to an even larger city and become the ‘world’s greatest’ interior designer. I could just see me in the designer suits, stiletto heels, and carrying the briefcase to match.

Rather than walking through a pair of French 19th Century doors into a million-dollar mansion, I step through a ‘seen better days’ screen door into a series of old sharecropper shacks that have been cobbled together and added onto.

a chicken looking over branches with a surprised look on its face

Planning a Lifestyle Change May Mean Getting Flak from Others

My new lifestyle was a complete 180-degree turn from what I always firmly stated I wanted. So, when I made my announcement, you can just imagine what the people closest to me thought. I was met with disbelief, sarcastic laughter, assurances that I would never be happy, couldn’t succeed, would be headed back ‘home’ with my tail tucked between my legs in less than a year.

There were times after moving that I wondered if they might just be right. But instead of allowing my fears and mistakes to tell me I was wrong, I confronted them and kept moving forward. Yes. I have been kicked by a cow, been covered in slop, chased by a copperhead, and come in the house at night hot, exhausted, aching, and covered in more yuck than you can imagine. 

woman walking down a farm lane followed by cats and chickens

Planning a Lifestyle Change May Mean Finally Finding Yourself

But guess what? I can honestly sit here and tell you that, almost 20 years later, I have never been happier, more content, or filled with a sense of home than I ever have before. I have dreamed of what could be possible and fulfilled many of those dreams. I have finally set free the person I was meant to be – and she is thriving!

I will admit it wasn’t always easy. There are aspects of my Simple Life that have been considered nightmares, instead of a beautiful dream. I have watched animals die, predators attack, tornados rip my community to shreds, and spent hours on my knees in the pasture, praying for respite.

But no matter what lifestyle you choose to live, there will be good – from a simple smile to outright elation. There will be bad – from a tiny frustration to the downright living nightmare.

However, when you choose to live a Simple Life, you may just find yourself with less stress, fewer worries, and a more peaceful countenance – all of which will help you make it through the hard times and be able to fully celebrate the good times.

Now that you have decided to live a Simple Life, planning a lifestyle change becomes your mission.  But how do you do that?

your lifestyle plan ebook

How do I start Planning a Lifestyle Change?

The first thing you need to do is to set up a Lifestyle plan. A lifestyle plan closely mimics a Business Plan. Business plans should be created long before the doors are ever opened.

A Business plan has a two-fold purpose. It helps to keep the goals and plans for the business up front and assists with any financial assistance the business will need, now and in the future.

You may not consider your new lifestyle a business, but you would be surprised by how helpful a Lifestyle Plan can be. It will help you determine your mission, your goals, the state of your finances and assist you in identifying potential problems and pitfalls. To be able to see ahead of time what is realistic, feasible, and practical can save you a world of hurt in the long run.

 notebook, pen, blue mug of coffee sitting on a pink table

Planning a Lifestyle Change is Serious Business

Creating an extensive Lifestyle Plan may seem excessive in the beginning. However, to live a life that is enjoyable, relatively stress free and financially sound takes focus. Knowing where we are and where we want to go in life requires planning.

If you were starting a new business, the first thing you would have to create is a Business Plan. This information would be used to help your business grow, keep control of your finances, obtain loans, and more.

If you are planning a lifestyle change, the same basics apply. With that in mind, a Lifestyle Plan takes a basic Business Plan and adapts it to the ‘business’ of your Life.

Just as creating a new business, planning a lifestyle change takes time, thought, and dedication to complete. But by having one, you will be able to create the life you were meant to have, stay on track, and see at a glance where you need to go next, or how to get back on track if you lose your way.

a linen pillow embroidered with the word 'hope' beside a white vase with dried purple hydrangeas

Designing your own Lifestyle plan offers several benefits that more than outweigh the investment of time:

  • It is designed to help you create a plan for your own life.
  • No one else needs to see it unless you choose.
  • It is a way to help you examine what you need or want from life and find a clear path on how to achieve it.

notebook, colored pens, highlighter, pencil and eraser

How to make a Lifestyle Plan

There are several elements to a Lifestyle Plan. These include:

  • Vision Statement – a condensed version, or a summary, of your proposed new lifestyle. Usually this would be a one-page summary, but if it needs to be a bit longer that is okay.
  • Mission Statement – a short paragraph that describes the purpose and philosophy behind planning a lifestyle change.
  • Overview – where the specifics begin to come into play, including your current lifestyle, changes, advantages and disadvantages
  • Growth Strategy – designed to explain specifically how you want to grow, using goals you set. It is a step-by-step plan of action to make the shift from your current lifestyle to the new one.
  • Proficiency – your skill set. This includes your current expertise, strengths, and weaknesses. This is also where you can find ways to increase your proficiency through research, education, and practice
  • Communication – changing lifestyles, even if it is for the better, needs open lines of Communication with all parties. Some may be motivated to make the changes with you. Others may be agreeable with you making the changes, but don’t want to participate. And there may be some that don’t agree at all.
  • Financials – where all your planning comes together. Having control over your finances will offer peace of mind that your bills are paid.

Once you have completed all the steps, your Lifestyle Plan should tell a story of the motivation and vision behind the desire to implement your new lifestyle.

You may also want to keep a Lifestyle Plan Journal. This is where you can make notes of any successes, setbacks, progress, and any other inspiration that will encourage you to continue moving forward.

notebooks, pen, and mug on a bench

Excuses to Stop you from Planning a Lifestyle Change

You may be telling yourself that the timing is wrong for planning a lifestyle change. If so, consider these words from George Herbert:

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

Stop and think about it. There really isn’t ever a ‘best time’. Our planners are filled to overflowing with all of the things we ‘need’ to do, ‘want’ to do, and activities that are designed for no other purpose than to keep us busy.

We tell ourselves our dreams are not important. Instead, we need to focus on the dreams of our spouses, parents, and in some cases even our friends have set out for us.   

a young girl sitting on a tractor

But what if those dreams that others have for you don’t take into consideration your passions, strengths, and weaknesses?

In many cases, children are expected to go to work in the family business. In other cases, they may be expected to follow in the footsteps of a parent or other family member.

Friends think it would be wonderful if you worked for the same company they do, or encourage you to develop a relationship with someone they think would be ‘perfect’ – only to find out you have absolutely nothing in common.

A Simple Life eWorkbook

The fear of failure or fear of making ‘too many’ mistakes often stop us from pursuing our dreams. What we tend to forget about mistakes is that instead of being a bad thing, they are in reality training tools. In any new endeavor, we are going to make mistakes. The trick is learning from them and moving forward.

The most common fear people have is a fear of failure. All our lives we have struggled to please other people – parents, teachers, friends, and bosses. Being afraid can prevent us from trying new things. It stifles our curiosity and keeps us from learning and growing.

We tell ourselves we are just too old to be planning a lifestyle change. My question to you is, what is ‘too old’? There are news stories all the time of people who have decided to go back to school – and have succeeded – in their later years in life. Now THAT would be considered planning a lifestyle change!

an image of Your Lifestyle Plan ebook with daisies

Maybe It’s Time to Start Planning a Lifestyle Change

Are you tired of being stuck in a lifestyle that no longer fits? Maybe its time to get serious about finding one that works for you.

One of the best pieces of advice you can get is to take this quote from Gail Devers to heart:

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”

And once you do, your next step is to get a copy of Your Lifestyle Plan. This book is designed to help you plan and implement your new Simple Life, following the information you learned here.

Are you ready to start planning a lifestyle change, and becoming the person you were meant to be?

Then today is YOUR day!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

2 Comments

  1. Great to hear from you, we now have chickens that are laying eggs. Two cows that are pregnant and two great grandchildren due next month. I wouldn’t say I am completely country but getting there. Hope you are staying well and safe. Miss you.

    1. Author

      WooHoo! Edie – I am so excited for you. Let me know when all the babies are born. And girl, you are definitely ‘country’ now. Just get ready – Sheila will try to claim your chickens, if she hasn’t already! Congratulations on all you have accomplished!!!!

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