On your own. What do you think of when you read these words? Is living on your own a much-anticipated time? Are you looking forward to the day when you will have your own “place?” Are you unable to wait until you can be responsible for yourself and live as you please in your own style? Or does the idea of living on your own give you a nervous twinge? Do you feel not quite ready? When are we ready to live on our own, anyway?
Of course, there is no certain time when we are magically ready to venture out of the nest. Some of us live in circumstances that make us feel we’ve been pretty much on our own for years. For some of us, circumstances dictate that once we reach the age of 18, we are out the door, ready or not.
Living on your own may mean going away to college. Sometimes it may mean supporting yourself, yet living with a roommate. Living on your own may also mean living with family, but as a self-sufficient, responsible, and contributing member of the household.
Whatever your particular age or set of circumstances, being as prepared as possible makes a living on your own an exciting, rather than a difficult, challenge. Having the knowledge and skills required to live alone successfully frees your energy and allows you to grow and fully enjoy the experience.
There is tremendous freedom in being a responsible person. Knowing how to maneuver through your new world easily allows you to approach life and receive it at your best. And that is what this book is really all about: acquiring the basic life skills, you need to be the best you that you can be—to not only survive, but to thrive.
Your Dream—Your Plan, and Your Present Reality
I graduated from high school, knowing I was going to be successful. Yet I had no idea how it was going to happen. None whatsoever. In addition to not knowing how I would establish the successful life that I envisioned, I basically had no idea how I was even going to survive. I was on my own and unprepared. “I guess I’ll go to work somewhere,” I thought. “I’ll find something. Maybe I’ll take a few classes somewhere—somehow.” Please don’t let this happen to you!
I didn’t have a plan of how I was going to get where I wanted to be. No matter what point we are at in our lives, having a vision of how we want our lives to be is important. But having the plan, the rough outline, the “road map” of how to get there, is crucial.
You must develop a personal plan of how you are actually going to reach your dreams. Outline a plan that will be very easy to follow so that you will stick with it. Just as most of us give up trying to stick to a budget we’ve made that is too difficult to deal with, you might give up thinking about your plan if you make your road map too complicated.
The easiest plan I have seen is the following chart developed by Cynthia Bischoff, a communications trainer. Imagine or visualize your “dream” goal; then divide the steps to reach it into smaller goals. It may help to face facts about your present reality honestly. This will give you an idea of how much you need to do to reach your dream.
Your Financial Game Plan
- Your Dream:
- Long-Range Goals:
- Medium-Range Goals:
- Short-Range Goals:
- Immediate Action:
- Your Present Reality:
Some people know or think they know at an early age just what they want out of life. Others are not so sure. Once you decide something you want to work toward and focus your energy on, you will be giving your life direction. Ideally, you will eventually know and follow the dreams you love.
You can expect to adjust your goals as you move forward. You will find yourself adding, subtracting, and moving around your basic life plan. Life is full of irregularities. The old saying, “Expect the unexpected” certainly applies here. We also change our goals as we grow and mature.
Having a life plan can be quite a comfort. You will worry less about your life’s direction because you have an idea of where you are going. For instance, you will probably instinctively know if a certain decision is right for you or not. You will ask yourself, “Is this action going to help me reach my goals or keep me further away from making my dreams a reality?”
Your life’s path will take twists and turns on the way to your dreams. Your dreams may even change several times. Yet accepting complete responsibility for every aspect of your life, including being responsible for your life’s direction, is a critical part of being a healthy, whole person, and is also where fun and fulfillment lie.
Now, let’s look at the chart. You can use this chart for not only your overall life plan, but any project you tackle. If one of your personal dreams is to see yourself in better shape, toned up with more energy and stamina, use this chart to create a path to reach your goal.
If your present reality is that you are out of shape, not eating the right food, and too tired even to exercise, your immediate goal may be something small, like eating more fruit and vegetables every day. It doesn’t matter how small the action; just faithfully meeting one small goal after another keeps you heading in the right direction.
If living successfully on your own is a dream of yours, what is your present reality? How far are you from your goal? Are you still living at home with plenty of time to calculate your move?
How Your Plan Must Look Like?
Not everyone has that luxury, but if you do, your plan may look something like this:
- Your Dream: To be out of my parents’ house and to be living on my own, with at least three months’ living expenses in my savings account.
- Long-Range Goals: Keep my job, or get a better one, and save all I can, even though I’ll be attending college.
- Medium-Range Goals: Open a savings and a checking account. Start acquiring as many skills as I need to be employable and marketable.
- Short-Range Goals: Get a regular job, or find odd jobs and work part-time while I finish high school.
- Immediate Action: Start organizing for my job search.
- Your Present Reality: I’m sick of living here, and I can’t wait until I’m on my own.
This is a good plan for someone who has the foresight to start thinking and planning early. Yet it’s never too late to come up with some sort of plan of action. Whatever your present reality, a little planning and a little knowledge of basic life skills enables you to start living on your own from a position of strength. Ready or not—let’s go!