Living life on your terms
At the start of the morning I had no idea what my manifesto might be but it emerged effortlessly through the questions Jaz posed (always the sign of a good coach).
By lunch I had decided that my manifesto for 2019 would be:
“I live life on my own terms.”
I then spent the afternoon selecting the font and setting the type to print a very special luggage label which reminded me of Paddington!
Delighted as I was to have my inspiring manifesto and lovely label I could also sense a slight panic. What exactly were my terms?
I have spent my life living according to my parents’ terms, my school’s terms, societies terms and to some extent my partner’s terms. Which, if any, of these were my terms?
Fortunately, Jaz is adept at ensuring that people not only find answers to their questions but also implement them. My first step was to establish what my terms actually are. I realised that after over 50 years of living on other people’s terms it was going to take some detective work.
So, rather than sitting with a blank sheet of paper trying to list them I decided to spend a few moments each day journalling the answers to three questions:
When, today have I lived life on my terms? These are the moments I enjoyed and felt good about. What did they show me about what I valued?
When, today have I not lived life on my terms? These are the sticky, uncomfortable moments where I felt frustrated, annoyed or even angry. Whose terms were at play in those situations?
When I haven’t lived on my terms, what happened? I wanted to build a picture of the pattern. What had I been feeling and thinking when I went along with someone else’s terms? Rather than beating myself up I wanted to be curious and see what I could learn about the situations that were going to challenge my manifesto.
At first it was tricky to come up with a term to describe the good moments but over time I began to see patterns emerging. I realised that comfort, tidiness, kindness and taking my time are important to me.
On the flip side, although it was easy to recall the moments when I had felt aggravated during the day (no surprise there) it took some time to work out why, but it was worth it. First, it provided more clues about my terms. When I had felt aggravated, what would I have preferred to do? What would my terms have been?
Secondly, it began to make me aware of all the reasons I would find it difficult to live on my terms, for example, not wanting to upset someone and being polite.
Want to work out your terms for life? Try the journalling exercise I created. Each day take a moment to ask yourself:
When, today have I lived life on my terms?
When, today have I not lived life on my terms?
When I wasn’t living on my terms, what happened?
If, “I live life on my own terms” is going to be any more than words on a luggage label I have work to do but I can honestly say after just a few weeks, I know the work is going to be worth it.