How to Create Your Ideal Day in Work and Play
Posted on 15 December 2011
“Every new day is another chance to change your life” ~Unknown
Take a moment to imagine it: your ideal day. At work or at play. Big events or routine tasks.
Imagine how you’d feel as you yawn, stretch, and step out of bed. What your first action would be. Your second.
What you’d eat, what you’d do, and how you’d spend your time. The lightness of happiness as you ease (or not, if that’s your pleasure) from one activity to the next. Your ideal day, start to finish.
Picturing your ideal day is a common exercise that I use with my clients. It’s clarification visualization, a way to hone in on what you’re really after in your professional and personal life.
Last week, while working my way through an e-course to help bring focus into my business and life, I found myself on the other end of that exercise: writing out my ideal day.
On my ideal day, I woke up well-rested. After my morning exercise and shower, I sat down with a tasty beverage, reviewed my planner for the day ahead, and felt excited about what I had on my plate.
My tasks were spread throughout the day with plenty of space in between—an element missing from my current, “non-ideal” life—and there was time for creativity, reading, and “magical content creation.” This is how I reframed writing, a task I struggle with, suggesting that the words would come easily.
The day would lead to a dinner created by my own hand from fresh, local ingredients, and it would also include plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and nature’s beauty. It would conclude with a good night’s sleep to start the process all over again. My ideal day was about space, self-care, balance, and excitement.
But I didn’t just write about it. I thought about it. And then, most importantly, I let myself have it.
After I completed the exercise, I set out to incorporate just one thing—one feeling—into my “normal” everyday life. I chose space, because it was a predominant theme for me and the thing I felt the most drawn to.
Everything in my current world had felt very crammed together—work, friends, family, downtime; it all felt rushed. Deep inside, I craved breathing room.
When I sat down to incorporate space into my schedule, I was surprised at what I found: that I had the “room” to incorporate so much of my ideal day into my life right now. Not the sunshine, of course—I can’t control the weather—but I could have not just space, but balance, self-care, and excitement, too.
Not five years from now, or even two—right now.
It might seem impossible, but whether your ideal day involves a tropical beach, margaritas, and courteous and attentive staff, spending more time with your kids, or writing a novel, it can be done! Step by step, little by little, you can get there.
Here’s are some steps that are helping me do it:
1. Know what your ideal day looks like, what it smells like, tastes like, feels like.
Visualize that ideal in explicit detail. Sit with it, breathe it in, and dream about it.
Write it down, talk it out, paint it. Give yourself a record of your ideal day so that you can look back on it.
When you look at what this day includes, also look at what it doesn’t include, like video games, or dealing with difficult clients, or trying to do five things at once and getting frazzled.
Give these things equal weight. What you don’t want to do (and the associated feelings) are equally as important as what you do want to do. Take steps to eliminate those things from your life or at the very least, to reframe your thoughts.
2. Pay attention.
Look at the record of your visualization. What things immediately pop out at you? For me, it was a gentle flowing ease, a smooth, unhurried transition from one task to the next. For you, it might be spending more time being creative, in meditation, with family.
Talk it over with a kindred spirit if it helps you see the patterns; pull out those emotions. Why is this step important? If you don’t know what you’re seeking, how can you ever find it?
3. Give yourself permission.
In order to create your ideal day—especially to do it over and over again so that you’re living the life you want to live on a consistent basis—you need to give yourself permission to make changes in your life. To move things around, grow within these changes, and move toward that dream.
4. Be gentle, and know that it’s not easy or instant.
Your life is not a packet of coffee crystals, waiting to be dumped into a mug of boiling water. Your life, even a single day of it, is far more complex and beautiful than that.
The steps you take toward your ideal day will be small, the changes minute. There will be days when nothing’s changed, and you’re back to your “old ways.” That’s okay; small steps and setbacks are part of the process.
Yes, this means that if it takes months to get there. That’s fine. It’ll probably work better that way. Making a lot of change really fast can feel satisfying at the time, but it’s harder to stick to, and you’re more likely to just give up when you can’t maintain all the changes you’re trying to make at once.
5. Start small.
Pick one thing—just one thing—from the important themes and feelings you pulled from your visualization review. Think about small ways you can incorporate that into tomorrow.
If your ideal day includes an hour of peaceful meditation, maybe start with 5 minutes of meditation. Or start by creating a space where you can hold quiet time, all to yourself. Remember that the actions are not the goal—the feelings behind those actions are.
6. Let yourself have it.
When tomorrow becomes today, let yourself have a tiny step toward your vision. Know that your actions are not selfish, and that by taking these steps, by taking care of you, you are opening yourself up to be a better, happier, more supportive you.
This is a gift from you, to you. Accept it with joy and gratitude.
7. Get closer and closer, step by step.
Each day, or each week, or each time you’re ready to make a change, envision yourself pulling your “now” day and your “ideal” day closer together. Visualize them meeting in the middle and merging. It will take time, but every step you take brings you one step closer to where you want to be.
By letting yourself take the time and do the work, even the most mundane days will improve and get you closer to your goal.
Photo by Office Now
About Danielle Nelson
Danielle Nelson helps passionate entrepreneurs, purpose-driven leaders, and creative spirits clarify their goals, connect with their communities, take action, and get inspired. She blogs about web strategy, business, and living a better life at lifeunconstrained.com.