Meet Alistair Gill. A regular guy from Wolverhampton, England who works a 9-5 job and is engaged to his lovely girlfriend of 10 years. He’s 28 years old, university educated, loves Formula One racing, and quiz night at the local pub.
A totally regular guy.
He’s also the founder of 52 New Year Resolutions, and a maverick experimenter in the science of uncovering a more personally fulfilling existence and greater career clarity, which is why I wanted to introduce him to you. Like most people, Alistair followed the formula of ‘go to school/study something useful/get a good job/make a nice salary’ only to later discover that that’s not what he wants. What he does day in and day out is not what makes him happy.
And rather than accepting the results of the choices he’s made thus far, (because it’s “what everyone else is doing” and they seem happy), Alistair decided to switch things up a bit by setting 52 New Year resolutions to test his boundaries, expose himself to new ideas and new skills, and make himself publically accountable for follow-through via his website. All this in the hopes that a more fitting, more fulfilling direction in life will become clearer in the process.
Which is pretty awesome.
Because so many people struggle with the same existential questions AND because a major factor holding people back is having the time to focus on any kind of self-development, I thought Alistair would be an ideal person to share with us how he goes about it.
Because he’s real. He’s a regular guy operating with the same amount of hours in his day that you and I have, and he’s not settling.
Heather: As someone who has a 9-5 job, how do you give yourself the space and time to uncover what you *really* want to do with your life? What does it look like in practice? Do you do less of certain activities in order to make more time to follow through with your resolutions and for reflection?
Alistair: My short answer would be that I’m struggling with this! I get stressed and feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to do all the things I would like to do. For me though, I feel like it’s the job that is getting in the way, especially because it doesn’t fit with my natural body clock. This feeling is made worse by the fact that I’m a bit of a Renaissance soul…so there’s a lot I want to get done! Hence 52 New Years Resolutions, not just one or two!
Fortunately, one of my strengths is that I have good self-discipline. I have fitness related resolutions, and I’ve been hitting the gym 6 days a week recently. To most people that would sound like a massive drain on their time, and something to avoid if you were trying to make time for reflection. However, I do a lot of thinking while I’m in the gym. Treadmills are really dull, but they allow me time to let my mind wander. I think half the time, the positive energy I get after a workout is as much to do with having realized or learned something, as it is to do with just the
So I think for me it has been less a case of giving up certain activities, and more a case of finding an activity that helps me to think. That said, I’m watching far less TV nowadays (basically just the F1 races – that is it). I also play far less PS3 games.
I guess the trick is to substitute activities that occupy your mind and distract, with activities that free your mind to think/reflect.
I assume this is why other people enjoy yoga etc. For me reading also falls into the latter category as I read books that inspire me to think, rather than books that just fill my head with fiction.
I can only speak for myself, but the only thing holding me back from leaving my job is not having any alternative income streams. Unfortunately, I fell for the old do well at school, go to uni and study an academic subject (Mechanical Engineering & Business Management), get a good job route. I worked damn hard, studying work related material at home and going to night school. I got promoted and now earn a nice salary. I also now realize it’s not what I want and I’m not happy.
The problem that this creates is that all of my skills, experience, and education are centered around a field I no longer have any passion for. If I want to start a business, I’m starting from scratch, with literally no ideas. This is kind of why I started the 52 NYR thing. I just thought that if I try lots of things, I might come across something that clicks. I might finally feel like I have found my purpose. If I knew what that passion was, I’d be all over it every minute I could outside of work [in order] to get my business running and make it a success.
In short, I think I would find it easier to make time for myself if I could see where I was headed. Currently I’m diverging, trying lots of things, seeing how I get on and experimenting. This takes time and that can be frustrating. I’m hoping though, that at some point, I’ll start converging and being able to focus in on the things that are really working for me. At that point I think I’ll be able to accelerate my progress because I’ll have learned loads, and also be accustomed to finding time outside work.
Guaranteed results, one way or another.
Perhaps an end-of-year interview is in order to see what’s resulted from Alistair’s project? I know I’ll be interested! In the meantime, you can catch Alistair most easily on Twitter for extra inspiration if you’re looking to level up your own life a bit. 😉