photo credit: Kelli McClintock (Unsplash)
I've often referred to that period in my life around 2015 when I left my job and it feels like 'my journey' really started.
Though something had felt 'off' for much of my life, and not least entering adulthood and dropping out of university twice before landing in a job which I quickly knew wasn't "it" for me, it was probably some time around 2014 that I started to get really restless and realise that how I was living (specifically, the work I was doing) just wasn't me.
I'd be reading 'quit your job' and 'start a business' books, such as The Escape Manifesto and The $100 Startup on my morning commute, and even smuggle them into my office, safely tucked away in my bag usually underneath my lunchbox to try make extra certain that none of my colleagues would see what was inside. I felt like some kind of secret agent.
Both before and after leaving my job, I did a bunch of research and reflection and it was sometime during this period, when I was trying to figure out what 'work' I wanted to do, that I came across this exercise that I'm going to share with you today.
I was reminded of this very exercise recently, when I interviewed my friend and digital nomad Elizabeth Miner for the podcast, after she told me that she uses this exercise with her coaching clients, and also does the exercise for herself a couple of times a year.
Wow, what a great idea, I thought. Though I was doing these sorts of reflective, clarity-restoring exercises at a time when I was needing to make a change, I have realised that ongoing checking-in with myself through self-reflection is really important to help keep me on track, feeling aligned and happy (it's why I continue to journal to this day, and always seem to return to it even if my practice wanes at times).
After a couple of years, I was prompted to do this exercise again. It was a really useful reflection for me and, whatever your circumstances right now, you might find it helpful, too.
Here it is:
"What do I want my ideal day to look like?"
Before you start:
You want to feel comfortable and relaxed. It's useful to spend even a couple of minutes doing some breathing work or guided meditation, or lie on your back on the floor or a yoga mat. Just centre yourself my focusing on the feeling of your body on whatever surface you're on, and notice your breath. You might also wish to choose a comfortable, well-lit place in your house, accompanied with a hot drink. Basically, you want to feel as relaxed as possible.
Close your eyes, and before your write anything, really picture the scenes, the sounds, the smells in your environment. You want to build as rich a picture as possible, and do not be afraid to dream and go wild here... important: do not filter yourself. Let it all out.
Some prompting questions
- How do you want to start your day?
- What time are you waking up?
- Where are you? In what part of the world? What does your physical space look like?
- What do you do after breakfast? After lunch?
- Where do you go? What do you see?
- What activities are you doing during the day?
- How do you feel over the course of the day?
- What do your evenings look like?
- What about bedtime / your nighttime routine?
- What time do you head upstairs? What's the last thing you do before your head hits the pillow?
Just let your imagination run wild and run free. Don't let yourself think about what feels possible or any other judgements or doubts about this 'ideal day'... just write, unfiltered, as rich as you can, what this ideal day of yours looks like.
Write as much as you like, to your heart's content.
Then go and read it back and, if necessary, add to it.
Take a moment to notice - how do you feel right now?
If you feel called to, write down these feelings you have.
Okay, so what next?
This is a powerful exercise, as it helps us get in touch with what we truly want - in the form of accessing our intuition (the richer the sensory experience you can access, the better).
It serves as a handy on-paper compass you can use to guide:
- your daily routine/habits (the details)
- what you want 'work' and 'life' to look like for you (the big picture)
So, now you can get to making the changes that will make you feel better and take you close to what you truly want.
Over time, the idea, is that you get closer to that ideal day, so you won't need to make as many changes.
Let this exercise guide you, inspire you, give you a framework to re-visit when you go through times that you're feeling 'off' but can't quite put your finger on it.
You might wish to ask yourself: "how does my current day compare to this ideal one?"
If the two feel quite far-removed from one another, do not panic. Notice what you do have, and use this 'ideal day' as a framework to move towards and help you grow.
Wherever you are at right now in this moment, this exercise is really empowering and may help you access exactly what you need.
And, you can refer back to it as often as you like 😊
Published: 14th August, 2020
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