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you can't buy a lifestyle

I've written before that my wise friend Mark Antcliffe used to remark of dude foresters 'you can't buy a lifestyle'. He had observed that people buy woodland to become something like their idea of a woodsman but pretty soon it palls and they end up paying someone- like Mark- to manage it for them. They want the image not the whole reality.

People get lifestyle envy and sometimes even kick in their safe job to buy a fishing boat a la Forest Gump and go trawling for shrimp- but unlike the movie it presents a whole new set of headaches. Which isn't to say it can't be done- it's just the method is wrong. When you shift lifestyle it should be secondary to shifting mission or engaging purpose. Mucking about in the woods isn't a purpose- which is why the downside of that- maintaining woodland will quickly overwhelm. you have to be able to make what others call WORK into what you think of lightly as PLAY and that can only happen when you have a sharpened sense of mission. Otherwise stick to the day job.

A sharpened sense of mission requires sacrifice. It means that what you do is ALL you do- at least until you have created a sustaining bubble of people and activities around you, at least until you have shifted 'world'. I sometimes have taught people writing who are in the their 50s and 60s and they dream of 'making it'. Which is wholly possible- but at that age you can't muck about. Writing must be ALL you do (apart from stuff that sustains writing like a bit of yoga and some interesting conversations, a walk or two- but nothing that gets in the way). When I hear they are, in addition to the writing, playing in a skiffle band and slowly turning their garden into a miniature Heligan I know the writing project is doomed. When you change late in life you have to change sincerely- whole heartedly- otherwise the ghosts of your old life will drag you down.

A sense of mission is nothing very fancy or hard to instill. You just have to cut out all the distractions and only focus on your main thing. If you start to go a bit manic- maybe you chose the wrong thing. Maybe you chose something because of its image, the fond picture of you doing it. That's often a sign- when you want to be, say, 'an artist' more than simply painting or drawing pictures. The lifestyle should always comes second- even better if you rub a bit against it, aren't interested in telling folk your new trade. The doing is the key thing. How you will spend your time day after day even if no one recognises you as something special. And the right mission will have one or more things you are aiming at that are attainable- crazy goals are out. The right mission, for you, will energise- for sure- but it won't tip you over the edge. If it does, find something else.

You don't find passion and interest like finding a tenner lying in the gutter- you grow it. From small beginnings you cut out other things and do your main interest all the time- pretty soon you'll have a full blown mission on your hands. Make sure its worth it as you'll be skirting a slight madness the whole time...

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