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A few weeks ago, my friend Candace posted this quote as her status:
(In case you can't read the image, it says: What's really important in your life? Do your priorities say the same? Think about it...)
The very first email I send to new Exit Strategy School students asks them to imagine their ideal day.
There's a bit more to the email than that, but that's the central purpose.
And by "ideal day," I mean their ideal average Tuesday, not the dream day of a lifetime with limitless grandeur. I want them to identify their ideal day in the day-to-day.
The purpose of the exercise is so my students can have a clear vision of what they're working toward.
But even if you aren't working on an exit strategy, knowing what you want (or don't want) can still be a guiding light in your life.
For example, a friend of mine was recently debating whether or not he should move from California to Nevada. Although he loved living in California, the cost of living is high and he could live much more comfortably in Nevada. He also owns a company that would see numerous financial advantages if he moved the operation to Nevada.
Based on this, Nevada sounded like the logical decision to me. Yet, I didn't say that. Instead, I asked him what his priorities were. When "money" (or having more of it) wasn't one he listed, I started to sway away from Nevada slightly.
Truthfully, his priorities didn't seem to favor either state. For example, a priority was to spend more time working on his music, which, without splitting hairs too much, you could say he can do anywhere. As long as he has his guitar...
Point is, we weren't getting anywhere discussing his priorities, so I asked him to describe his ideal day. It was there, in that description, that his decision was made. His ideal day fit so perfectly into the one location and almost, positively, could not exist in the other.
It's amazing the power such a seemingly simple exercise can have. Defining your ideal day can totally change (and shape) your life. It's why I insist my students complete this exercise and actually write it down.
I regularly revisit my "ideal day" exercise.
I also take time to review my priorities and question whether they're reflective of what matters to me, what makes me happy, what gives meaning and purpose to my life.
Part of being a minimalist is to live with more purpose.
It started with shopping and buying with purpose, but now also means living with that same awareness too.
Just as I don't want to clutter my closest with shoes I'll never wear, I don't want to clutter my days (or my life) with unimportant matters.
Of course, I accept I do have to do some things I don't want to do (like laundry) but overall, except for those unyielding necessities, I try not to just go through the motions.
I try not to go with the flow.
I try to stay off autopilot.
Define how you want to life your life so you can make changes and move forward in the right direction to that life.
One of the neatest aspects of the ideal day exercise is how it helps you see what it is you value most in your life. It can be a great revealer of your goals and real priorities.
(And if what you currently have isn't what you want, consider joining us over at Exit Strategy School!)
Lastly, this "define it" exercise applies to other areas as well — beyond your personal bliss and internal satisfaction. A friend of mine used it to "define her perfect school," so she could narrow in and filter out some of the different graduate program choices she had.
Another friend "defined her ideal partner" before joining a dating website. She frequently looks back at the list when evaluating potential matches. "Sometimes I think, but he's sooo cute! And in the past, that would have gotten me in trouble trouble! But now I'm like... wait. he hates dogs! I have a dog! No amount of cuteness can fix that! Next! No more wasting my time on a guy that's not right for me... except physically... ha ha!"
Still another friend "defined her ideal client" and then put it on her business website! I thought that was crazy pants, but it's done wonders for her business.
Get focused. Work your way to your bliss. That's totally minimalist :)