Let’s stop wasting time on the things that drain joy.

A great way of working out what you want in life is establishing what you definitely, categorically do not. Sounds simple, but it’s actually an enormous help because it un-fogs your thoughts, clears the way for the things you do want to do and helps you nail your values so you can plan for the future. Sid Madge, author and founder of the Meee Programme has worked for some of the world’s largest companies and in 2010 walked away from the corporate life to find new meaning. Here he explains about the anti-bucket list.

“If you’ve done the ‘What do I want and what genuinely fulfils me?’ exercise already, you may have found you’ve come up with loads of different answers – or a genuine sense of cluelessness. You may find you come up with a totally different answer every time you ask the question. Sometimes it’s hard to think clearly about what we want. We may have got out of the habit of thinking in that way, because of life’s responsibilities, the things we think we ‘should’ do or the things that are currently within our reach and therefore doable. So when that happens it’s really really helpful to think ‘Well actually what do I hate? What do I really NOT want in my life anymore?’ Put all these things on your anti-bucket list.

Watch that movie for the 10th time in my life? No thank you. Work in an office full of stressy people? Cheers but not for me.

And once you start eliminating the ‘no’s’ the whole process becomes much more fertile and creative.

So maybe you’ve decided you do not want to go back to the nine to five. Maybe commuting is one to put on your anti-bucket list. So what’s the alternative? Working locally or working from home. And the next step is to ask ‘What skills do I possess to enable me to do that? What skills would add value to somebody’s life that they’re willing to pay me for?’. And now you’re on a roll with making a plan for your next steps.

Another way to think about what you want to do with your life is considering how you want to be thought of. It probably sounds a bit morbid, but if I fast forward to my funeral, what would I like my children to think about me? That I wrote a bunch of books and made a bit of money? No. I want them to think of me as fun. So in order to deliver that, what must I not be? Not always busy, not distracted and not a tyrant like my dad was. So from there I can make a list of the things I need to do in order for me to deliver joy – because that to me is what I want my kids to feel. And that’s how I realign my values and from there everything that I do, my work and my purpose – everything works towards that goal.

And what if fear gets in the way? If somebody is already on this journey of self-reinvention or launching something new, and they’re finding that the fear of financial insecurity is getting in the way of their ultimate goal, it’s understandable. Times are tough. We’re all dreading whatever happens next. How do we stop that fear from making what should be an exciting time just feel like a big worry? How do we enjoy the sense of freedom that we get from doing the brave thing that we’ve decided we really want to do?

Decide what is the worst thing that can happen. Financial ruin? In that case, what exactly does financial ruin mean? Will they take the house and my car and everything away? Well I don’t want that. So what do I need to do to ensure that that doesn’t happen? The cost of security is probably not something you’re prepared to pay, so if you want to pursue a passion, you’re going to have to think of the big picture and get some more income coming in. That may mean being a delivery driver, it may be something that we really don’t want to do, but if that provides you with the money you need in order to continue to doing something that really matters to you, it’s worth it – because you know why you’re doing it. You’ve done the anti-bucket list and you have clarity”.

As told to: Marina Gask.

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