Sometimes I get carried away. It often involves my friends sweet basket that is positioned in their living room. I make a beeline for it every time I’m there – Rebecca Fox, aged 7, rather than 47.

When it comes to sweets I have zero self-control – if I buy them for home, a bag of chewy, fruity, delicious sweets doesn’t last the day. Gone. The advantage of my friends sweet basket is I can have some and leave them for another day.

Thank-fully having no self-control over delicious, sticky, chewy sweets doesn’t extend into the rest of my life, in fact it’s often the opposite.

It’s been more than once that I’ve been described as boring and unspontaneous – I also know it’s not true, and said in jest – I’m just careful what and where I spend my money and time, I research and plan change in my own life, and I consider the impact on other from my actions. These three things I didn’t do in my 20’s but certainly learnt to do in by my 40s.

In short, how will what I do today impact on me tomorrow and day after?

I’ve made some significant changes in my life. Changes that have made me happy and content, but also built on my confidence, expanded my career, increased my earning potential (also reducing my spending), created better relationships with my family and friends – these have made me a better person, a better citizen, a better parent, a better leader.

Money and Time

The two resources I have control over are my money (credit, assets, cashflow) and my time (my body, influence, skills). Previously I used to be very frivolous with both – this left me with little money, little time, and low energy. It was exhausting, I was exhausted – trying to please everyone, and in the end pleasing nobody. Including myself.

I am now very careful where, how and who I give my money and time too. I have base principles about who I will work for, where I will donate my money, which companies (and people) I will spend my money on and with. For example, I will never work for a company that operates in gambling, pay day lending, addictive substances – and I will also prioritise donations to LGBT+ and homeless charities.

Research and Plan

What are the options and which should I choose, and then how and when is it going to actioned?

Not knowing all the options and benefits before taking action is a mistake – from something that can be fairly spontaneous of where to have dinner, to those larger decisions about where to live, where to work. Research. From a quick google search for the perfect dinner date, to something more extensive of reaching out to connections, reading books, paid for subscriptions, and visiting places.

Execution is then critical, but knowing when to complete activity is crucial. Completing actions at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, are just wasteful (unless you are learning from them). Thinking about the order, priority, and dependencies (the project manager in me always prevails).

Who Else Does This Impact

If I do something, I should also think about who else my actions will impact. Will this impact my family or friends. My neighbours, a colleague, or someone I just don’t even know (who are the companies I’m buy from, what are their ethics?).

What is the impact on my relationship with them? If there is collateral damage can I live with it, and for how long? Of course there are upsides to many actions, but consider what I may see as a benefit, might be seen as a dis-benefit by someone else.

Should I check my own privilege, before doing it anyway?

Then, Relaxed Enough To Be Spontaneous

Above everything, I think of my actions as investments – what is the longer term benefit I am going to get from this? I really don’t just mean money, as most of my actions don’t involve that, but my family, my friendships, my business, my career – and it is only when I’m comfortable in a situation I can be spontaneous because I can be secure and confident in the moment.

So eating a handful of sweets isn’t going to impact my life tomorrow or the day after, I might be bouncing of the walls for a couple of hours with the extra sugar. And the good news is at 47, I can have ten sweets today, and ten tomorrow – just as long as I don’t do that every day.