Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Do you find yourself unmotivated and exhausted lately? Do you dread waking up in the morning, feel anxious, depressed, or maybe even burnt out? Those might be the symptoms of your deeper life dissatisfaction, the signs that you are ready for a new chapter.
In this post, I will walk you through the signs you've lost track in life and offer a step-by-step framework to help you get back on track.
10 signs you are not on track in life
Here are the 10 signs that can indicate you need a life change:
1. You don’t feel excited getting up in the morning anymore
2. You often experience the ‘Sunday night blues’ dreading getting back to work on Monday
3. You often catch yourself thinking “What’s the point of it all?”
4. You feel like a hamster in a wheel trapped in your 9-5 job
5. You know there are people out there living a fulfilling life, but somehow everyone around you lives a life like yours and you think you must be stupid wanting something else
6. There is a career or a hobby that excites you, but you feel it’s too late, expensive, silly to change your life track now that you’ve already invested so much time and effort into your career
7. You’ve been in a demanding job for quite some time and feel exhausted and want to have a more balanced life
8. Your body shows the signs that you need to rebalance – you lost your sleep, gained weight, feel anxious or depressed
9. You are missing the things that are important to you in your life – like spending time with friends, having a significant other or being in nature.
10. Your list of hobbies, dreams, passion projects keeps growing but you can’t find the time or energy to work on it.
Have you recognised yourself in one of a few of those statements? This could mean that it’s time for you to take a step back and revise your trajectory.
You might discover you only need to tweak a few things, or you might decide do a full life overhaul. In any case, it seems like it’s time to look at your Life Strategy.
Why do we lose track in life?
With so much choice and options in life it can be easy to lose track and end up on a completely wrong trajectory.
I often see unfulfilled people not because they are not ambitious or hard working enough, but because they are working hard in the wrong direction. How do I know? I was one of those people.
As someone who is very ambitious, I was determined to become successful in my consulting job in London, and I did. But the further I moved in that direction, the more signs of not being on track were popping up.
I lived the most exciting life many people dream of – I had a great job working with the CEOs of global companies advising them on strategy and innovation, I worked with incredibly smart people, went on lots of international business trips, and had a great paycheck.
At the same time, the pressure was high, and it started impacting my health and other parts of my life. I was stressed, lost my sleep, it was very hard to stay in shape. I could only see my friends and family once or twice a year during my holidays and the job I didn’t feel like what I was meant to be doing.
For a long time, I ignored those signs. I was convincing myself it’s just a phase - winter, hard project, temporary health issue, [insert your thing].
But when I didn’t want to wake up in the morning anymore, it was a clear sign something must change. I didn’t know what exactly, but I was determined to find that out.
What is Life Strategy and why do you need one?
I have spent years advising clients on growth strategies and it stunned me that I never took the time to look at my own life’s strategy. No one I knew did.
And life is the most precious enterprise. So, how come we never treat it with the same rigour corporates treat their strategies?
This is precisely what I did to get my life back on track. I looked at myself and my life methodically and holistically:
- I looked at my values, things I wanted to do and achieve in life, things that brought me happiness and fulfilment, things that mattered to me
- I worked through my fears and limiting beliefs
- I set my North Star and a clear vision for the kind of life I wanted to live.
Suddenly, I had an overwhelming feeling of clarity, feeling excited and hopeful about the future. First time in a very long time.
Have you ever looked at your life holistically? Have you ever took time to work methodically and rigorously through who you really are, what you really want to intentionally set the North Star for your life?
Maybe that’s the reason why you took a wrong turn or not sure what should your next chapter be.
Life Strategy is a life-long foundation for a fulfilling life
When you define your Life Strategy, you will have a clear vision for your life to ensure you are on track and living life to your fullest potential, in sync with who you really are.
It can be done once, and some elements can be revised over time.
But once you have it in place, you will have a clear idea of who you are, what you want, what is the kind of life you want to live to minimize regrets at the end of your life and maximise your happiness while utilising your talents to the fullest.
Like any other strategy, Life Strategy is about trade-offs. It is equally important to know what not to do, which opportunities not to pursue, and how not to live your life. You can only learn that by taking a step back to look at your life holistically and critically.
Once you know your trade-offs, it is a lot easier to make good decisions and important life choices. Defining your Life Strategy is an investment you make into your future.
Once you do all the hard work, you will reap the rewards for the rest of your life.
How can you define your Life Strategy?
Defining a strategy is a complex task. It is for a good reason that top strategy consulting firms, like McKinsey and BCG only hire the smartest people. When it comes to people’s lives it gets even more complex. Every person is unique, and it can be hard to formally describe all the elements that make us fulfilled.
But here at Life Startup we love challenges. We thought life is too precious not to treat it seriously and scientifically.
And that’s why we created Life Strategy Quest – our signature coaching program where we guide our clients through the steps to define their Life Strategy.
If you want to do it on your own, these are the steps for defining your Life Strategy.
7 steps to defining your Life Strategy
Step 1: Define what is working well and what is missing
First, you need to establish what is already working in your life and where are the biggest gaps.
Reflect on the following questions:
· What is going well in your life?
· What are you struggling with?
· What is missing in your life?
· What would make your life more fulfilling?
· If anything was possible, what would you wish for?
This is the point where you can establish whether a few tweaks to your life might get you back on track or a full life overhaul is needed.
Step 2: Look inwards
Next – take a close look at yourself. You might already have glimpses and fragmented insights about your personality, talents, skills, and aspirations.
But what’s important is to methodically work through all those aspects and build a holistic and integrated picture of yourself.
Here are the aspects of yourself we recommend analyzing:
· What you value (what are your personal values)
· What you want (short, medium, long-term)
· What fulfills you and brings you alive
· What gives you energy and what drains you
· What kind of professional activity be right for you
· What would your ideal average day look like
In our Life Strategy Quest we guide clients through the reflection exercises and then challenge them to uncover hidden insights.
If you are doing it yourself, you can find exercises online and in books and do a self-guided reflection. You can always discuss insights with friends and family to help you go deeper.
Step 3. Look outwards
This step is especially important and often overlooked by people and coaching programmes.
When you define a business strategy, you spend a lot of time analyzing economic, social, and tech trends, look at what competitors are doing, seek inspiration from other industries, and inspiring case studies.
In the personal development world, no one does it. You are offered to look at yourself and jump straight into goal setting and planning.
If you will not look outwards, you will not stretch yourself beyond what you already know and that is very limiting.
The world has changed and keeps changing at an accelerating pace. What was hard to even imagine 10-20 years ago is becoming a reality.
The new work and relationship models are emerging creating many more options for life design. Portfolio careers, digital nomadism, open relationships, just to name a few.
It could be that you are not looking to embrace all those new models, but you can still borrow the elements that are relevant for you.
Maybe you could negotiate to work remotely and spend several months a year in your countryside house growing your own vegetables? You don’t have to go all-in and become a digital nomad or commit to several years of travels.
To complete this step, we recommend learning all about the new trends that can be relevant to your life design – what are the new ways to work, travel, live, love? You can also read inspiring stories of people who are already living their life differently, on their terms.
The purpose of this step is to find as much inspiration as possible!
To get you started, you can watch this video recording where I talk about some of the future trends:
Step 4. Work through your fears, constraints, and limiting beliefs
By this point, you might be overflowing with ideas ready to set your North Star.
But before you do that, it’s important to take another step and work through everything that is holding you back from setting an even bolder vision for your life.
Work through all limitations preventing you from living your best life:
· Fears – rational and irrational
· Constraints – physical, emotional, material, and other
· Limiting beliefs – any convictions you may have about money, success, expectations and other areas of your life.
Addressing those things will free you from anything that may be stopping you from pursuing an even bolder life vision. Here is a free exercise we have developed to help you question your limiting beliefs.
Step 5. Set the North Star for your life
By this point, you will know everything about yourself, have inspiration from the outer world and will have let go of all your limitations.
It is a perfect time to set your bold vision for life – in line with your values and the design principles you’ve established in the first step.
Go through everything you’ve gathered in the previous steps and define your Personal Manifesto - a one-page document that can serve you as your crib-sheet for life.
Here is what you can include in your Personal Manifesto are:
· Your purpose statement
· List of your top personal values
· Quotes you live by
· What you stand for
It may be tempting to jump straight to this step without doing the work in the previous steps. But we encourage you not to take shortcuts – all the hard work you do in the previous steps will pay off.
Your North Star will be a lot more informed, robust, and bold and will set you off for a much more fulfilling life.
Step 6. Design your dream life
Once you have your North Star, generate lots of ideas for building your dream life and create your life-long backlog of things you want to do, be and achieve. You can use some techniques from the business world – like brainstorming, ideation, and design thinking.
Prioritise your ideas across 2 dimensions:
· Impact – how much impact will your idea have on your level of joy, happiness, wellbeing, and life satisfaction
· Difficulty – effort, time, money, etc. required to implement the idea
You will end up with 4 buckets that will inform your roadmap:
1. Focus – do it now or as soon as possible, those are your quick wins
2. Research - need a bit more experimentation and data, look into it more
3. Fill-ins – do in between other things in groups 1 and 2
4. Luxuries – nice to have
Step 7. Experiment, learn and keep making your life even better!
It’s finally time to put all your ideas into practice. But the key is to not just do it once – but make a habit out of experimentation.
Just like in the business world, to learn things quickly and pivot timely, we recommend you run the experiments.
For example, if you have always dreamt of being a surf instructor living on a tropical island, maybe quitting your corporate job to do that is not the best idea.
Take a few months off and join a surf camp as an instructor. You will learn a lot and might end up quitting your job to do surfing full time. Or you might realise that you like some elements and not the others. So you will iterate your experiment and try something else, this time with more data.
Experiments help you learn what works and what doesn't and correct the course. In no time you will be living the kind of life you've always dreamt of!
I’ve defined my Life Strategy, what’s next?
1. Defining your Life Strategy will help you make sure you are on track in life once and for all. You will set your North Star, or the direction of travel, and will develop principles that will help you to stay on track.
2. Once that’s done, you can look at your Life Design. This can be done every 2-3 years and will help you make any necessary tweaks to how you live, what you do, and your environment in line with your Life Strategy.
3. And lastly, once your strong foundation is in place, you must continuously work on your personal development – improving your skills, productivity, habits, routines, mindfulness and more.
When you work through all three components – Life Strategy, Life Design and personal development, you are bound to live a life in sync with who you really are and realise your potential to the fullest.
Got a comment or a question?
Email me on Natalya.email@example.com
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and help you navigate your Life Strategy.
It took me 3 years to get my life back on track, but boy was it worth it. I would love to help more people experience this powerful transformation. So if you feel stuck or know someone who is stuck, apply to join the program here.
You can learn more about the Life Strategy Quest program and how it works here.