Personal: A Date For Your Diary

After the whirlwind of a year that was 2012, this year is set to have a much calmer outlook with just one milestone that needs to be planted firmly in the ground. Today.

On this day last year I woke up to a shiny, new lifestyle that involved running my own business and once every week or two photographing the most amazing day of someone's life. I also, finally, had the opportunity to be that person you always see hanging out in bookshops drinking coffee.

A year on and everything's rosy. I love my life and couldn't be happier.

But my success wouldn't have been achieved without the massive support I received from friends and family. They got me to this privileged position where people now tell me they admire what I've done, what I've achieved and how they wish they could also "live the dream". Well I would love nothing more than for everyone to do just that, so if you've been wanting to change your life I'd like to offer a few words of advice and encouragement, starting with:

Give yourself the life you crave before it's too late.

Yes, I know you've heard it all before and it's on the "to do" list. But here's the thing: I've had many conversations with people who say they would love nothing more than to run their own business or spend the rest of their lives exploring this amazing planet. And yet they continue to stay in their jobs and do the same thing day after day. Maybe they're worried about taking the plunge and so opt for the security of a steady income until the day when all the stars align. Totally understandable.

But if you're one of those people, just ask yourself: is that day marked in your diary? Because if it's not, how do you know it will ever come? Deadlines make things happen.

The good news is that achieving your dream lifestyle doesn't need to feature a dramatic life change. You could transition like I did by reducing your hours while you build your business or train up on new skills. I was fortunate that my previous employer was open to discussions about flexible hours, but if your employer is not so generous don't despair. There are ways to make yourself super efficient in your current job so you can then free up time for yourself while at work, or ideally persuade your employer to let you work from home. To find out more I highly recommend reading the first book I always grab in the bookstore whilst waiting for my coffee (even though I actually own a copy): "The Four Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss.

This best seller is infamous for perpetuating the mythical dream of just four hours of graft per week. But the principles outlined for why you should aim for four hours are perfectly sound. For starters: why should you want to work at all, even for yourself? When we were kids we dreamed of being astronauts and ballerinas. It wasn't about working for a living, it was about having a life filled with fun and excitement! And yet when we grew up society popped our utopian bubble and dictated that we had to work 9-5 (at the very least) in a job that rubber stamped us as suitable for the position. Incidentally, shouldn't that be the other way round? Shouldn't we determine and create the job that we want to do?

And what's the deal with working non-stop until you retire? Does that really make sense? We talk of achieving work / life balance until we retire but how's that working out for you right now? Is the reality that you're currently sweating out the best years of your life so you can look forward to lawn bowls and P&O cruises in your twilight years? How about turning that on its head and taking mini-retirements every few years while you're still able to salsa? Work, save and follow the surf for a year; work, save and live like an Italian in Tuscany for a year. Rinse and repeat until you've done everything that's ever appealed to you. Doesn't that sound more like work / life balance?

If you're still with me you may be wondering if I've been sucking on some serious nitrous oxide so I won't dive any deeper for now. I just wanted to start a conversation and encourage you to think differently, to consider what's really important to you, and to take action. Everything you've ever wanted is waiting for you and all it will takes to start your journey are a few small, simple steps. Like buying a diary.