The thing I love most about my job is watching people age backward, becoming more lively and energetic as they free themselves from situations that are toxic to their essential selves. – Martha Beck
One of the exercises psychologists ask you to do is the perfect day exercise.
Imagine you could do anything – you had no limits or constraints at all – and you had all the resources and money to do whatever you could possibly want.
What would you do?
If you’re interested, take a minute and write down your perfect day – go into detail and be as imaginative as you want.
You can do the same exercise with your business or your job role.
What would a perfect day at work look like, a perfect business trajectory – how would you describe that to someone else.
Now, when you’ve done this you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself.
Many of us think that we would like to do something – be a famous singer, a racing car driver, a President.
When you look at your perfect day the thing you should ask is how much time you spend doing the thing you think you want to do.
For example, does your perfect day include practising for three or four hours?
Does it include doing to track days?
Or does it involve actively getting involved in local politics?
If your idea of a perfect day is to spend your morning in bed with several attractive members of the opposite sex and then take your private jet to Paris for breakfast, followed by lunch in the Riviera while your chauffeur waits to take you to a private dinner with the Queen followed by an exclusive nightclub – then perhaps what you want is to be famous and have lots of money – not actually sing or drive or lead.
When it comes to your business the same considerations apply – do you want a passive income generating machine that gives you money for doing no work at all – or are you pursuing a calling that means a huge amount to you?
The chances are that what we think we want is often what we think we should want – or what others want for us.
How do we know what we really want – what’s the thing that would drive us if we only knew what it was?
What are the possible selves we could have?
Do you think you would like writing poetry or painting?
Is being a good parent the thing you want to do – know that your children will look back on their childhood with happiness and gratitude?
Do you want to tinker with things, invent or make stuff that helps people – or do you want to be a good friend, someone with strong, deep relationships?
Or do you want to be the life and soul of the party – the person who is in charge of happiness?
Here’s the thing.
If you can’t do anything you want in your imagination when there is nothing holding you back – how will you do it in real life with all the constraints and excuses around you?
When you have a job that drains all your energy, when you have children and a mortgage and car payments and holidays and no money – how will you find the time to create or learn or be who you want to be?
And there’s no easy answer to that – because all the things you have bought over time – the things that you own now own you and your life.
You’re loaded down – just imagine yourself like a mule weighted down with all the possessions in your life.
When you were young and carefree you didn’t have a care in the world and the time seemed endless.
When you’re older time passes more quickly and you move more slowly – because of all the baggage you’re carrying.
So, the first step to making a change, especially later in life, is to jettison some of that load – get rid of everything you don’t need and most of what you do and keep only what is absolutely crucial to your existence.
Your family, friends and passion for what you do.
And then maybe you can start working on making life just that bit more perfect.