Do you ever stop to think about what you really want in life?
I’m not talking about that new pair of shoes you saw at the mall last weekend, or that crazy trip to Cancun you want to take with your friends over Christmas.
I’m talking about the kind of life where you wake up filled with joy and purpose. The kind of life where you’re doing work that’s meaningful and exciting. The kind of life that is perfectly “you” in every way.
Many people don’t have this kind of life. We look at the people who do, people like Richard Branson or the neighbor up the street who’s always happy, and wonder how they got so lucky. And then we come to a conclusion: they’re special. We could never live a life like that, right?
So we duck our heads and go back to our 9-5 jobs that we tolerate because it pays the bills. We shuffle through our days because we think this is our lot in life. “Make the best of it.”
This thinking is flat out wrong. All of us are special. And without trying to sound like a super-enthused motivational speaker, the truth is that we all deserve a life that fills us with joy and excitement.
The problem is that many of us don’t know how to define what we truly want in life. We have, literally, millions of choices. How do you define which paths are right? How do you know what you really want to do?
I’m not a psychologist or self-help expert. But I stumbled onto a technique a few months ago which has really helped me define how I want to live my own life. The insight I’ve gained from this exercise has helped me start making some significant changes in my life so I can move forward towards the kind of future I’ve always wanted (but never knew how to define). Living a life you’re excited about will not only provide you with major emotional benefits, but it will also make you more ambitious and excited, which can in turn lead to a more successfully prosperous life as well.
Your Ideal Life
I first stumbled onto the concept of “Defining Your Perfect Day” through Chris Guillebeau’s excellent site, The Art of Non-Conformity. In his life-changing manfesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination, Guillebeau links to a workbook created by business coach Paul Myers, owner of TalkBiz Inc.
The workbook is fairly short, only around 30 pages, but the exercises in here are like gold.
Because Paul Myers has created not only a way for us to define what we truly want, but he gives us an incredibly comprehensive plan for actually making it happen.
But it’s the first part, defining what we really want, that I want to talk about because this is the step, at least for me, that I always got stuck on.
How to Get Started
First, grab a pen and paper. Don’t worry, this is going to be an easy and fun exercise.
Close your eyes and imagine that you can have your life any way you want it. Don’t worry about money, or a job, or anything. Imagine you’ve won the lottery, if that helps.
Simply close your eyes and imagine that if you could design your perfect day, what would you be doing? Go through your entire day, from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep that night, and write down (as detailed as possible) what you’d be doing.
Use these questions to help get you started:
- Where would you live? Imagine your perfect house, and describe it.
- What kinds of people would you most like to be friends with?
- What would you spend your time doing? Would you work and, if so, what would you do?
- What hobbies would you like to engage in? What would you like to learn?
- What kind of food would you like most to eat? What kinds of clothes would you like to wear?
Just go through your day and tell your story.
What Can Happen
I was astounded after I did this exercise myself. Defining my perfect day, no holds barred, allowed me to clearly see what I valued most in my life, and what goals I truly wanted to pursue in the months and years to come.
What’s most amazing is that since I’ve done this exercise, pieces of my perfect day have already begun falling into place. It’s almost spooky the things that have begun to happen in my life that reflect what I wrote down.
For instance, the friends I wanted most? I’ve made them. The perfect place I want to live? I’m moving there in a week. The non-profit art project I want to start in the city of Detroit? I’ve got a plan to make it happen.
Is it just me finally pushing the envelope to make things happen? Something larger?
I don’t have a great answer for that, but I do know that taking the time to define your perfect day will at least make you think about the kind of life you’d have if you could design it yourself. The truth is that you can design it yourself. It’s your life, after all. You can pick and choose what you really want, and put the effort in to make it happen. Don’t go through life ignoring the life you want to live simply by dismissing it as “unreasonable” or “impossible.”
Does it take work? Absolutely.
Some risk? Definitely.
But the reward is that you get to wake up filled with a joy and purpose that most people only dream about.
What are your thoughts on the concept of trying to live the perfect life? Have you been able to attain this goal or at least get close to it? Any tips for the rest of us?