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A tale of two homes

Last year Mr Winn and I looked at a house to buy. It was beautiful – new build, looking over a park, close to a great school, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, pool, 'granny flat'... Just stunning. We spoke to the builder and he had lots of experience and knowledge of building homes. It was very, very tempting.

But, as with many new builds, the plot of was full. There was very little space for flexibility with how you would use the different areas. It was all very high spec finish and it would have been expensive to make major changes.

When a building is designed, you make a prediction about how it is used. However, many predictions are wrong. It’s useful to build in some flexibility to allow for change.

Apply that to life, work or business for a moment.

When have you made plans, based on a prediction, and that prediction has been wrong.

Did you leave space for flexibility?

Back to the houses: we decided to stay where we are, in our little retirement village villa. It may be small, but it packs as punch. We’ve recently divided the children’s room in two and built-in loft beds. We converted the garage into an office, and more recently created a gym space in there too. The next projects are converting the laundry in to a second bathroom, finding a nook for my hobbies and enclosing the outdoor lounge area.

The postage stamp sized garden has everything from monkey bars and swings, two raised beds and an outdoor kitchen / lounge space.

We didn’t create all these changes in a bubble. We looked to Pinterest, Instagram, city living in Tokyo and tiny homes around the world for inspiration. We kept it flexible and easy to change, as we know as the children grow and life changes, the way we use our space will too.

Likewise, when designing your life and work, look around you for inspiration.

How are others doing it? What do you like and dislike? How would you like things to work for you?

Taking the time for this ‘starlight’ thinking, to ruminate and daydream, is crucial.

Step away from the sunk cost and status quo of how it already is. Think carefully about what you want to include and exclude. Consider what you are willing to take on as risk and investment, and secondary outcomes of some of these things.

If we had bought the shiny new house, I may not be writing this right now. I may have felt the pressure to take on work with a steadier income. Mr Winn may have had to stay in the job that made him unhappy. Our travel time every. Single. Day. Would have been a lot more and maintaining a big property would require energy, time or more money. We would have paid for the big house with our time, freedom and flexibility.

Will we stay here forever? Who knows! But for now, it feels just right.

Points to ponder:

What’s the unseen costs of your situation right now?

Are you happy with them?

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