Can you change your life with one sheet of paper?


I had a meeting with my good friend, Ella (I never use real names), the other day about her finances. She was going through a career change, and wanted to get more organized around her money, so we decided to get together and look at everything in order to come up with a plan.

Once we caught up over dinner and got to work, two hours flew by before I realized that we had just barely scratched the surface. We’d been talking about what was happening with this credit card, and what would happen to her credit rating if she closed that credit card… and I could see that we were just stuck in this loop of looking at the very small snapshot of what’s happening now, going around and around on the subjects that were her most obvious daily nags, but were in fact small in the broad scope of her life.

So I stopped her and said, “I know these are issues that need to be dealt with, and these are things that worry you, but let’s pull back and look at what you really want.”

I told her about a conversation I had years ago with my cousin, before she moved to Miami. She had been telling me about how she was planning to open her own gallery in about 10 years. This seemed strange because she was leaving for Miami to start Law School, and when I asked her why she was thinking about this future gallery now, and she simply said, “If I don’t set the goal now, it will never happen.”

That bit of wisdom really stuck with me, and I find myself referring to it all the time. It’s an essential insight into getting anywhere that isn’t obvious. There may have been a time that you could blunder into a comfortable and secure life without trying, but that seems like the rare exception more than the rule these days.

And it’s hard to get your head out of the here-and-now to envision what you want to be reality in a few decades. So much so that Ella couldn’t see past the small snapshot of today to answer my question.

That’s when I took out a piece of paper and wrote on the top: This is what I want for you… and listed all my hopes and dreams for her. It was just scribbled off, but reading through it, we could see how powerful it was. It was written with Ella in mind, but these are all things I want as well, and maybe they resonate with you too?

7 long-term goals for a perfect life and art practice

  1. The feeling of safety and stability that comes from having money in the bank.
  2. A growing base of assets.
  3. An art practice that functions regardless of a fluctuating monthly income.
  4. To one day have a robust, and relaxing retirement.
  5. Stable and secure housing and workspace.
  6. The room to have the family you want without financial panic.
  7. Rest when necessary and fun whenever possible.

I’ve turned it into a plaque that’s now on my studio wall, and I’m sharing it HERE: [ThisIsWhatIWantForYou] to hopefully inspire you towards your own perfect life. If you don’t plan for it now, what are the chances that you’ll ever get there?

Do you have your own list, or any additions for mine? Send me an email at, or write in the comments (link at the top of the page). And be sure to subscribe to Sm* I’ll be delving into each one of the goals on my list in the coming weeks — along with so much more!


© 2014 Christina Empedocles. All rights reserved.

4 Responses to “Can you change your life with one sheet of paper?”

  1. Millicent Ann Crichton September 22, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Robust & relaxing retirement…here I come……(I hope – keep your fingers crossed)
    Oh yes, even with plans and good advice you still have to use the “fingers crossed tool !”

  2. Debbie Horn September 7, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    I was delighted to get the news! Great Christina!- I am so excited about this long-needed information- very inspiring! And real!

  3. Juliann Brown September 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I’m really looking forward to hear what you have to say about the scary things, taxes and investments!

  4. Flesche Hesch September 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    This is so inspiring. My favorite is #3 “An art practice that functions regardless
    of a fluctuating monthly income.” This feels like true freedom. Thank you!

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