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How to Create Your Ideal Day in Work and Play

 “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.

Just imagine.

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

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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.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Videophilou

    Thank you so much for this! This was just what I needed right now. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/fonzimarquez Fonzi Avila Marquez
  • Cornelia Horne

    great post! I love me some tiny buddha ;)

  • Mindy

    Awesome post Dani!!!

  • http://www.reflectingalife.com Elle

    In my humble opinion feeling is the secret to it all.

  • http://thesixthletter.wordpress.com Liz @ The Sixth Letter

    This is the best way I have seen this exercise done – I LOVE how specific it is, and the the idea of noticing what the major elements are. For so long, when someone asks me this, it’s like “get up! do yoga! be outside!” both too vague and specific at the same time. Thank you for this! 

  • http://www.jonanscher.com Jon Anscher

    I like the reminder to take it step-by-step. Although I might say allowing it to inch into you, step-by-step rather than pulling it closer. Pulling gives it more a feeling of struggle to me.

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    You’re welcome – so glad this spoke to you!

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Ooh, I love the concept of letting it inch in, Jon – thanks for sharing!

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Oh, wow – thanks, Liz! I’ve been there too, and this is definitely a difficult concept both to explain and to grasp (especially for folks who may not be ready to hear it) – I’m glad you enjoyed my take on it :)

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Thanks, Elle!

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Aw, thanks, Mindy! :)

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Thanks, Cornelia – I’m so honored to be able to share with the tiny buddha community! 

  • http://lifeunconstrained.com Danielle Nelson

    Thanks, Fonzi!

  • http://www.absoluteplacementtoday.com Samar Wilson

    Lori, I feel like contributing to your blog. Is it possible?

  • Zach
  • Pingback: What is Your Ideal Work dayNatural Networking

  • http://www.barefootcourier.com barefootCourier

    I do need to work out the difference between visualizing and being a little goal obsessed. It seems the more I focus on a goal, the further away it seems to move. I guess that is part of the balance. Maybe visualising is about painting the picture of what it would be to achieve the goal, rather than how you achieve it?

  • Soothinginspire

    Wow, what a concept!  An ideal day.  I am still pondering this.  I had never thought of this before.  I had been thinking my days are so empty of meaning and how did I forget that I was in charge.  I have never in my 60 years dreamed of an ideal day.  I am doing so now, it might take a while, but I will do it!

  • http://lifescheme.blogspot.com/ Argie – Life Blog

    Well, it’s what we called “IMAGINATION” .. Children usually has this kind of perception among things. The problem with us grown-ups is that we tend to less use of our imagination and take the hard way instead. If only we just use our imagination at the right time, we could then be able to picture out our ideal day. Great read Danielle! Thanks for this.

  • http://www.jewelocean.com/ draniqa

    i am thankful to you for writing this piece. i never knew how to create an ideal day before lol

  • Pingback: Bringing back Joy! | Bliss Habits