Photo by Ángelo González
Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe. — Mark Victor Hansen
When I was born, something strange happened. I didn’t cry. The doctors thought I was dead.
Alarmed, they picked and prodded at me to see what was going on. After a few moments of their panicking, I started to cry. I was not dead. I was born asleep.
In some ways, I stayed asleep for the first twenty-four years of my life.
I think I was a good kid. I grew up without too much fanfare. I got good grades, had nice friends, did my homework on time, and excelled in college all on my own. I enjoyed a happy life within a happy family. I followed the path given to me without a hitch.
Do you know what happens when you’re good at following a path? You continue to follow it, no matter where it leads you.
After college, though, I ended up in jobs that felt stifling, and I began to experiment with reading books written by entrepreneurs. After reading a few success stories of people who created their own dream life, I began to wonder…
Could I do this for myself, too?
The jury is still out on that one. I work every day to try to make it happen, but I wonder how it got started. I wonder what exactly was the one thing that led me to actually start creating that dream life I had cooked up in my mind for so long.
One thing comes to mind: thinking about my ideal.
We’re not trained to think in terms of ideals. To describe my ideal life implies that there is another option out there, and that I deserve to live it.
The first time I pondered my ideal life, I was blown away. It’s a simple concept but not easy to decipher by any means. To describe my ideal life goes against the decades of societal training I’ve undergone.
To make it easier to answer, I’ve broken down my ideal life into three categories: my ideal day, my ideal work, and my ideal experiences. Defining each makes it easier to come up with the whole: my ideal life. Once I knew what fit into these three categories, I had a more concrete direction to head toward.
If you are looking to create your dream life, these three categories may help you get there:
1. Your Ideal Day
What is your ideal day?
As children, we were allowed huge amounts of playtime — to tire us out, to allow us to learn, to give parents some time to breathe. As we grow up, though, the time allotted for playing dwindles quickly. By our teenage years, we are asked to do so many routine activities, most of which feels unnatural to us at the time. Finishing high school, going off to college, choosing a place to work, finding a partner, picking a retirement plan — and the list goes on.
Digging inside myself, I realized that I could construct my ideal day down to the minute if I really let my mind and heart roam free. This is what I wrote down:
6AM: Wake up to write
11AM: Exercise by either running or doing bodyweights
1PM: Lunch with family or friends, catching up and sharing experiences
4PM: Spend time with my husband working, conversing, having dinner, and sleeping.
None of that is too rigid, as most things in life feel better when they are flexible and free, but that is a day that leaves me feeling refreshed, fulfilled and loved.
Once I knew what my ideal day looked like, I set about achieving it. It led me to quitting my job and making various other drastic career moves.
2. Your Ideal Work
What is your ideal work like? Who is your ideal client?
I can’t tell you how much these two questions changed my life and my career. When I read this question for the first time, I thought to myself, “Wait a second. I get to choose who I work with?!”
Why did nobody ever teach us to stop and think about who we take money from? Why did nobody ever teach us to be as picky with our clients as we are with our significant others?
Most of us would never do business with a drug cartel or a thief, but the filter of who we do work with stops right around that legal barrier.
We usually don’t take it much further than that, do we? It may be time to start.
As I answered those questions, I thought back to which clients I had enjoyed the most and why. At the time, I was only a few years into business and a bit green. I answered these questions for myself early on in my career, and, as I’ve grown my business and worked with more people, I’ve been more careful about who I allow in my path and in my business.
Just to give you an idea of what an ideal client might be like, I’ll share with you what I answered a few years ago:
“People who teach me things, share great articles/books, like to bounce ideas off each other, share experiences and try to help me better myself through their experiences. They are also open to my suggestions for new ideas in bettering themselves. Happy.”
It’s a small sort of revolution when you realize you don’t have to take all the paid work that comes your way. The change is extraordinary.
3. Your Relationship With The World
What are your ideal experiences? When was the last time you experienced something amazing?
You know that moment when you accomplish something amazing, and you throw your arms up in blissful triumph? I love that uphill battle to the top. That is one of my ideal experiences.
You know that moment when you step out of somewhere — your home, a bus, a plane — and you look out onto a beautiful, breathtaking paradise? I love that moment when awe smacks me in the face. That is one my ideal experiences.
You know that moment on Christmas morning when the entire family comes together to share laughs and wonderful food? I love that moment when love is so thick in the air it’s almost palpable. That is another of my ideal experiences.
The trick behind identifying what your ideal experiences is figuring out how to repeat them over and over again. Once you know what you enjoy most, you can work toward building them up again and again.
Some experiences are meant to be rare and difficult to attain, but others can be replicated almost daily. I can’t tell you how much better my day is when I begin it with the warmth of family.
In the words of Michel de Montaigne:
“No wind works for the man that has no intended post to sail towards.”
If you’re trying to create your dream life, could following your ideal help you achieve it? Looking forward to hearing your stories in the comments!