“Put your future in good hands—your own.” ~Unknown
They say that in life, we are never given more than we can handle.
But sometimes it’s a matter of not accepting more than we can handle. Putting your foot down. Proclaiming, “That’s enough!”
Recently, a number of stressors confronted me simultaneously. This jolted me out of my comfort zone and forced me to take action toward transforming my life.
On one fateful Tuesday, I felt so much pressure from the culmination of professional demands, relational conflicts, parenting duties, and financial stressors that I found myself at a familiar crossroads. I felt pulled in a million different directions, with no clear idea of where to go next.
I was tired of feeling like I was at the mercy of so many external influences.
The familiar situation always presented me with the following options: find a temporary fix for all of these issues and continue reliving a veritable “Groundhog’s Day” of an existence, or commit to a plan of change and take action.
This time, I chose action.
I proclaimed, “That’s enough!”
Thus commenced “The Anchor Project.”
“The Anchor Project” is a way of clarifying the primary values for your life, and strengthening them by taking consistent, manageable steps to focus on the life you want and minimize the impact of external factors.
I began to list the things I wanted in life. I removed all extraneous or superficial goals from this list, and decided to stick with the core values that I considered to be essential.
I realized that many “goals” were distracting me from obtaining the things I really wanted out of life. So things like, “Run a 5K in under 27 minutes” did not make the cut.
I didn’t need more on my “to-do” list. I needed transformation.
I found that there were four primary focus areas that I wanted to improve. These are the non-negotiables in my life, the things that keep me grounded and fulfilled.
I call them “anchors” because anchors provide stability and security, even in rough seas.
Once I identified what my anchors were, I began to build on them and fortify them by listing all activities or experiences that might constitute each one.
For example, my four anchors are:
- A harmonious home
- Writing progress
- Financial freedom
- Holistic wellness
These are the things that are important to me. I explored what each anchor may be comprised of, and identified that, for example, holistic wellness includes physical activity, nutritious foods, self-care, relationships, and so on.
Then I brainstormed all possible ways to take action toward fortifying each anchor, even those that did not seem feasible. For financial freedom I listed everything from “get a new job” or “get a second job” to “cut coupons” and “save gas.”
I began taking steps to build on each anchor every single day, while staying flexible and trusting the process. Within just a few weeks, change occurred across each area.
Some things happened as a direct result of my efforts (for example, I wrote more because I reserved the time to write more), but some things happened seemingly-magically (for example, out of the blue, I got financial assistance for my son to attend a new daycare).
I find that as I continue to build on each anchor, to the exclusion of other things that could divert my energy, these changes are snowballing. I am happier, healthier, and more energetic— so I’m able to apply more focus on the areas of my life that make me happier, healthier, and more energetic!
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Do you think you’re ready to try “The Anchor Project”? Follow these steps to begin your personal life transformation:
1. Eliminate excuses and stay flexible.
This is the key to this whole process. I did not say to myself, “I can’t have the life I want because I am a single mother and sole provider, and my son needs a lot, and the job market is bad, and I don’t have the resources I need to achieve these things.”
Well, I did say all of that in the past, but “The Anchor Project” forced me to drop those excuses. Look at your excuses. Take action on the ones that can be changed. Make a Plan B for managing the ones that won’t budge. If you can’t move the obstacle, find a way around it, over it, or through it.
2. Examine and define your values.
Really. What do you want for your life? How do you want to feel? What sort of life will allow you to feel at peace at the end of your lifetime? How would you live if you lived with no regrets?
This is not a task-oriented “Bucket List.” This is a way to have the sort of life you want, to identify what grounds you and guides you. Once that’s in place, fill it however you like.
Define your vision for your life by organizing it into 3–5 “anchors.” What values ground you and guide you? The possibilities are endless. Pick the ones that mean the most to you.
4. Create a plan.
Reserve some time for yourself over the course of a few days for this process. Start with one anchor. Brainstorm ways in which your vision could be realized, and start listing steps you may need to take to strengthen that area. Stay open minded and include all possibilities that occur to you. Repeat with each anchor.
5. Focus and apply.
Each day, take steps toward your ultimate vision for each Anchor. Every single day.
Notice distractions that tempt you to procrastinate. Bring your attention back to your original outlines, and focus on what you want. Another helpful technique is to make a list of things you could do for each anchor when you have ten minutes to spare, thirty minutes to spare, or an hour to spare.
When you find yourself with free time, use it toward creating your dream life.
If it’s feeling like too much work, re-evaluate the anchors you defined. You may find that they don’t accurately reflect your true values. Pay attention to the influences in your life, past and present, and how they may have shaped what you thought you wanted.
When you know what you really want in life, working toward it will feel exciting and energizing, rather than draining.
It’s very easy to let circumstances dictate the sort of life you live, to feel tossed around in the world. But it’s not the only way to live. There is an alternative. Clarify what you really want, create a plan, focus, and take consistent action.
There is strength in applied action, and there is freedom in saying “no” to the things that don’t fit your vision for your own life.
With strong anchors, you will be able to weather any storm.
Photo by Bo47
About Angela Marchesani
Angela Marchesani is a psychotherapist and Holistic Health Coach practicing in Wayne, Pennslyvania. Visit her at angeladora.org.