Throughout my early 20’s I wasn’t particularly into goal-setting or any form of mindset stuff. To me, life seemed pretty simple. Work hard, be good at what you do for a living, and eventually, you’ll make a load of money, and you’ll be happy because of it.
Of course, as we get a little older we soon learn that’s rubbish. Particularly, when you’re working for someone else, as often the reward for hard work is usually just more work!
You also tend to be given more of the work that you’re good at, even though it may not necessarily be work that you really enjoy doing…
And of course, money alone is a poor measure of success. There’s plenty of rich people in the world who are miserable.
As I’ve got a little older I’ve realised a couple of really important things
- Working hard without a goal in mind (whether for yourself or someone else) will more than likely move you further away from where you really want to be.
- The main thing most of us really want in life is to be happy and to feel fulfilled. So, if happiness and feeling fulfilled is the most important goal, then surely our days should be filled with things that either make us happy and fulfilled, or be sure the things we are doing will move us closer to that goal.
To have more days like that, naturally, we need to know what those days should look like.
Which about 8 years ago now brought me to the question, what would my ideal day look like?
When I asked myself that question, this is what I came up with:
Wake up around 7 am, drink a pint of water, hype up my dog and give him a quick cuddle, make myself a coffee or tea, and spend 5 – 10 minutes in my comfy armchair focusing on nothing but positive ‘mindfulness stuff’.
Afterwards, head out for a healthy breakfast and then review my intentions for the day ahead.
Then go and do a few hours of meaningful and creative work projects. Just before lunch, go through my emails and add anything to my to-do list that needs handling.
After lunch, connect with my team, then hit my to-do list items for an hour or so. In the late afternoon, go do some exercise like a bike ride, a walk with the dogs and my girlfriend, or smash out a quick workout at the gym. Then pick up something fresh for dinner, and enjoy it!
After dinner, do a little reading, maybe listen to an online course, chill in the hot tub or just relax and have a cuddle in front of the TV 🙂
Then get to bed around 9 pm for a good night’s sleep. Yep… true story – 9pm 🙂
That all sounded pretty good to me. Unfortunately, my days at the time were nothing like that. In fact, not even my weekends were like that. I was so far from my vision of an ideal day that my heart sank a little, and I thought to myself “Geez, this is pretty f***ed up!”
Looking at my ideal day, there are some themes that emerge:
- Creative meaningful work
- Healthy eating
- Time with my family/doggies
- Moderate exercise
- Control over my time
- Feeling inflow
- Fun activities
- A good night’s sleep
When I compared my perfect ideal day to how I was living my life, none of those themes were really present or a priority in my typical day.
For example. I would usually wake up tired from a late night, scoff down some crappy breakfast cereal, and rush out the door to head to my office.
After a half hour of sitting in traffic, I would walk into the office and start my day with my emails.
My days then, typically consisted of an endless barrage of other people’s priorities and either sitting on the phone (which I hated with a passion) or responding to an endless stream of emails.
Lunch consisted of whatever food I could quickly run out and buy, then hurriedly eat as I dealt with more of other people’s priorities and distracted myself from doing any real meaningful work…
I’d then often stay late to deal with yet another load of other peoples priorities, and then I would set off home.
At home, I would cook whatever fast, convenient meal I could throw in the oven or microwave, then I would collapse in front of the TV till around 11 pm and begin to reflect on the very fact I’d soon be rinsing and repeating the same old day again the next day.
That’s a far cry from my average ideal day.
There were only two ways I was going to achieve something close to my ideal day. Either I needed to change my expectations and stop whining, or I needed to stop letting my approach to work consume my entire day this way.
Since changing my expectations and “settling” was not likely to happen, I set about trying to fix my approach. I needed to find something that allowed my days to include most, if not all, of those themes from my ideal day.
That meant I needed to drastically adapt the way I was operating. Having more productive and happy days at work I knew would drastically improve my quality of life.
During work hours, I needed to have more control over how my time was spent, so I wasn’t constantly reacting to other people’s priorities and could do more of the work that I enjoyed.
Yes, I would still need to do some things that I didn’t necessarily want to do. That’s life. I just didn’t want that stuff filling up my entire day, while at the same time feeling unfulfilled and miserable…
In the years after I first asked myself that question, I have worked incredibly hard to build a business that enables me to live my ideal day, most days. One of the hardest aspects has been to not get tempted to drop some of the things that I know I value and appreciate in my days in order to give me more time to “hustle” and grow the business that bit bigger or faster. And as you can probably imagine, there have been times I have done that.
But over the last decade, I really have witnessed so many people make the mistake of not truly asking themselves what makes them happy and lose sight of the things in life that really matter… And as a result, I do make a VERY conscious effort to regularly check in with myself and make sure I am staying on track.
And I can wholeheartedly say…. It’s paid off! Life is pretty damn amazing when you get to live your average ideal day, most of the time.
Your ideal day will look different from mine. Perhaps you don’t mind a long commute, because it lets you get some reading done. Perhaps you prefer to spend your evenings playing video games, or smashing a few golf balls down at the driving range. There is no right or wrong. It’s all about what you want. To maximise your career and achieve a happy life-work balance, you need to know what you’re striving for.
And that starts by answering this question:
What does an average ideal day look like for you?
Try it and see how close you are.