What my imaginary life taught me

A few weeks ago I wrote about my imaginary life  – how after seeing a job advertisement, I had mentally left my current job, moved out of my house and moved to Scotland to start a new life on a remote island.

Well I did apply for the job, but I didn’t get it. However I have learnt some things from the experience.

  • I’m not too old to make a change

Quitting my current job with all its comforts, conveniences and benefits, and taking a salary cut to move somewhere remote (3 hours by ferry to the mainland!), leaving behind everything familiar – it sounds crazy. It is crazy. But there was something in this prospect that rang a bell in my heart and woke me up. I was mentally preparing for packing up our belongings, hiring a removal van, and getting ready to move north. That I would do this, that I could do this, shows that I can still embrace change.

  • I am ready for change

I have been doing my job – in different shades and shapes – for ten years now. Yes, it has grown and yes, it has changed, but it is still largely the same job I started doing ten years ago. I may be three pegs higher up the corporate ladder, and now have people reporting to me, but the shape of the things I do on a daily basis has not changed that much. I don’t feel any excitement coming in to work in the morning any more. In fact I feel the opposite – a great wave of indifference, which I am trying to treat with coffee and cake. If my colleagues haven’t noticed this yet, I must be a great actress. For all I am being told how valuable I am for my experience and institutional knowledge, it’s not about what makes the company happy, it’s whether the company has anything that makes me happy. And I say it’s time to seek out change.

  • Physical Challenge

Living on a small island, I could cycle to work. I had the vision in my head of cycling down the single-track road to my workplace, the wind stinging my face, carrying the smell of the sea, of heather, of cows and sheep in the fields. The journey is 4.6 miles (7.4km), and it would only take me half an hour (depending on which way the wind was blowing, I guess!). I would cycle to work and arrive at work feeling alive and happy. I would lose weight. I would be fitter.


Here’s a thought – what’s to stop me from cycling to work now? Apart from, you know, simple things like not having a bicycle. And when was the last time I was on a bicycle that wasn’t stationary in a gym? Do I even like cycling? It’s fine at the gym but I’m on a stationary structure in climate controlled conditions and I don’t have to take account of traffic. I feel unfit, stuck, stationary. I want to exercise more. So I need to do something to fix that.

In the meantime I will picture myself on that road when I’m on the bike at the gym.

  • A simpler life, a more connected life

Island Life: fewer options, fewer choices, be that for good or bad. More community connection, again for good or bad. Beach clean-ups, social get-togethers, island council meetings… in such a small community it would be difficult to not get involved in things and that would be nice. Could I get involved more in my local community here? Easily. I just need to prioritise it and make the time. And I have to accept that local community involvement won’t involve removing washed up plastic waste from a white sandy beach in my lunch hour.

  • Cleaning up and clearing out

Any move involves a degree of decluttering. I have a lot of stuff. I have an embarrassment of stuff. And my husband also has a lot of stuff although not as much stuff as me. I do go through regular clearances of cupboards and bags and bookshelves and get rid of things. What I feel compelled to hold onto today I may be prepared to give away or sell in six months. Having a clear out makes you feel lighter. I want to feel lighter and less weighed down with stuff.

  • Spousal support

Bless the husband for not saying, “That’s a stupid idea,” or “You must be joking.” He got on board with it, told me to hurry up and send my application, sat down to look at island houses with me. He even came up with his own suggestions for what life would be like on the island. And knowing that he would support me in a crazy decision like this one is reassuring. So maybe we’re not moving to an island any time soon, but he is also open to change, even if it’s not the change we had anticipated making.


So without actually moving to Scotland, if I get organised, and if I actually want to change, I can bring into my current life some of the things that appealed to me about island life and make my London life a little bit more island.

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