“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.” — Mark Victor Hansen
When I was born, something strange happened. I didn’t cry. The doctors thought I was dead.
Alarmed, they picked and prodded at me to see what was going on. After a few moments of their panicking, I started to cry. I was not dead. I was born asleep.
In some ways, I stayed asleep for the first twenty-four years of my life.
I think I was a good kid. I grew up without too much fanfare. I got good grades, had nice friends, did my homework on time, and excelled in college all on my own. I enjoyed a happy life within a happy family. I followed the path given to me without a hitch.
Do you know what happens when you’re good at following a path? You continue to follow it, no matter where it leads you.
After college, though, I ended up in jobs that felt stifling, and I began to experiment with reading books written by entrepreneurs. After reading a few success stories of people who created their own dream life, I began to wonder…
Could I do this for myself, too?
The jury is still out on that one. I work every day to try to make it happen, but I wonder how it got started. I wonder what exactly was the one thing that led me to actually start creating that dream life I had cooked up in my mind for so long.
One thing comes to mind: thinking about my ideal.
We’re not trained to think in terms of ideals. To describe my ideal life implies that there is another option out there, and that I deserve to live it.
The first time I pondered my ideal life, I was blown away. It’s a simple concept but not easy to decipher by any means. To describe my ideal life goes against the decades of societal training I’ve undergone.
To make it easier to answer, I’ve broken down my ideal life into three categories: my ideal day, my ideal work, and my ideal experiences. Defining each makes it easier to come up with the whole: my ideal life. Once I knew what fit into these three categories, I had a more concrete direction to head toward.
If you are looking to create your dream life, these three categories may help you get there:
1. Your Ideal Day
What is your ideal day?
As children, we were allowed huge amounts of playtime — to tire us out, to allow us to learn, to give parents some time to breathe. As we grow up, though, the time allotted for playing dwindles quickly. By our teenage years, we are asked to do so many routine activities, most of which feels unnatural to us at the time. Finishing high school, going off to college, choosing a place to work, finding a partner, picking a retirement plan — and the list goes on.
Digging inside myself, I realized that I could construct my ideal day down to the minute if I really let my mind and heart roam free. This is what I wrote down:
6AM: Wake up to write
11AM: Exercise by either running or doing bodyweights
1PM: Lunch with family or friends, catching up and sharing experiences
4PM: Spend time with my husband working, conversing, having dinner, and sleeping.
None of that is too rigid, as most things in life feel better when they are flexible and free, but that is a day that leaves me feeling refreshed, fulfilled and loved.
Once I knew what my ideal day looked like, I set about achieving it. It led me to quitting my job and making various other drastic career moves.
2. Your Ideal Work
What is your ideal work like? Who is your ideal client?
I can’t tell you how much these two questions changed my life and my career. When I read this question for the first time, I thought to myself, “Wait a second. I get to choose who I work with?!”
Why did nobody ever teach us to stop and think about who we take money from? Why did nobody ever teach us to be as picky with our clients as we are with our significant others?
Most of us would never do business with a drug cartel or a thief, but the filter of who we do work with stops right around that legal barrier.
We usually don’t take it much further than that, do we? It may be time to start.
As I answered those questions, I thought back to which clients I had enjoyed the most and why. At the time, I was only a few years into business and a bit green. I answered these questions for myself early on in my career, and, as I’ve grown my business and worked with more people, I’ve been more careful about who I allow in my path and in my business.
Just to give you an idea of what an ideal client might be like, I’ll share with you what I answered a few years ago:
“People who teach me things, share great articles/books, like to bounce ideas off each other, share experiences and try to help me better myself through their experiences. They are also open to my suggestions for new ideas in bettering themselves. Happy.”
It’s a small sort of revolution when you realize you don’t have to take all the paid work that comes your way. The change is extraordinary.
3. Your Relationship With The World
What are your ideal experiences? When was the last time you experienced something amazing?
You know that moment when you accomplish something amazing, and you throw your arms up in blissful triumph? I love that uphill battle to the top. That is one of my ideal experiences.
You know that moment when you step out of somewhere — your home, a bus, a plane — and you look out onto a beautiful, breathtaking paradise? I love that moment when awe smacks me in the face. That is one my ideal experiences.
You know that moment on Christmas morning when the entire family comes together to share laughs and wonderful food? I love that moment when love is so thick in the air it’s almost palpable. That is another of my ideal experiences.
The trick behind identifying what your ideal experiences is figuring out how to repeat them over and over again. Once you know what you enjoy most, you can work toward building them up again and again.
Some experiences are meant to be rare and difficult to attain, but others can be replicated almost daily. I can’t tell you how much better my day is when I begin it with the warmth of family.
In the words of Michel de Montaigne:
“No wind works for the man that has no intended post to sail towards.”
If you’re trying to create your dream life, could following your ideal help you achieve it? Looking forward to hearing your stories in the comments!
Photo by Ángelo González
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17 thoughts on “Follow Your Ideal: 3 Steps to Creating Your Dream Life”
Nicely done and quite thought provoking.
One of the thoughts I have is of luxury – that we (many but not all) in this country at this time have the luxury to pursue ideals instead of working to survive or satisfy Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is a privilege and a responsibility to be used wisely and with care.
Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts.
A beautiful though, Johann. Thanks for sharing it.
Thanks Marcella for great story..))
Thank you, Elchin, for reading and appreciating my thoughts. :)
Very good Marcella, Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you for reading, Wind!
Marcella, to hear you say it sounds like it could be possible for anyone. I was very much on a path to who knows where – complacency, I suppose. In fact, the path led me straight there, and I didn’t realize it until I was in my mid 30s. Slowly but steadily my husband and I started working toward a life that would keep us together every day all day. Now we have that, and we are healthier and happier than ever. I wish that everyone could find their happy place.
Nice article Marcella. I am trying to get up early these days, and also have joined a gym. Working towards my Ideal life. Let’s see.. thanks again for the article :)
Life need’nt be a chore and I am trying to change. Thankyou for this inspiring blog.Your article has given me inspiration to keep on the right path.Its definately worth following….To live the life of dreams! :)
Marcella, Great article. You have a wonderful way of presenting ideas.
I’ve done the ‘ideal day’ exercise before. But you other 2 steps bring a new dimension to it.
I recently ran across the concept of defining your ideal client, but it was dry and plain compared to yours. Describing an ideal client as “32 year old woman, married with one child….” just doesn’t evoke the same excitement as “like to bounce ideas off each other, share experiences and try to help me better myself through their experiences”.
And the idea of crafting ‘Your relationship with the world’ is so uplifting while forcing you to focus on things that make you feel good. Things that bring you happiness.
Thank You so much for this eye opening experience.
Nice post. We all need to think about our ideals. I didn’t when I was younger, but I returned to college at 30 and am a college instructor. It’s actually an ideal career for me, especially as I begin to work toward a career as a writer. It allows me the time to write and care for my daughter as a single dad.
Having reached the peak of my career, to the extent destiny allowed for me, and walking towards sun set in terms of age, it is a climb down time for me. In my feverishness to reach the summit, I had no time to look around to admire the majestic Himalayas and the meandering rivers down below in the valley, I had no time to listen to the pine trees who were whispering certain secrets carried by the wind from the horizon yonder, the magic of the drifting clouds overhead. Now, thankfully, I can cast my glances wide, listen to the good words coming from fellow travelers, like you , Marcella,and so many others on the change blog and other spiritual web sites ( Speaking Tree, for instance, spiritual masters like Andrew Cohen, Deepak Chopra etc). Most importantly, life can be beautiful despite all the trials and tribulations if one can look beyond one self. The stars are shining if there is love in the heart.
Marcella, this is an incredible article. It really spoke to me in a lot of ways. I was really good at following a path others laid out for me and finally woke up not liking the direction my life was going! I’ve really thought about what my ideal day would be like, but I am now! Thanks for sharing!
Love this article. Firstly I had just put together an ideal life and work format!! Great minds and all that.!! The most important aspect of this article for me is to be specific on the clients you want. I think we might have the notion of ideal clients but end up working with people who are exhausting and not suited to us. That is really coming from a place of lack in ourselves, when we are in the place of abundance the right people will come.
Thanks for the tips.
You story is wonderful, and a mirror of my own. About 10 years ago I had a job I didn’t like, working for people that I didn’t like. I quit, went to work for myself, and after an initial burst of some extremely hard work most of my days are similar to your, “ideal day”. (Except 1pm usually has more writing)
Anyway, lovely story!
I really enjoyed reading your post! I’ve entered into this part of my journey in the relatively recent past and am still trying to figure things out! I’m pretty clear now on what I don’t want to do and am working to eliminate those things from my life, this is taking some time :( My ‘wants’ are also beginning to take shape, so there is more joy in my life :)
I like the three steps you suggest and am going to do some work on these for myself. Thank you for suggesting them!
I think the key is creating a great life for yourself where everything makes sense and makes you happy. I have gone through a lot of bad patches and troubles in my life before I realized one thing: your life is in your own hands – don’t expect anyone to make you happy. Pursue your dreams and inspirations, find the right person to spend the rest of the life with you, organize your life that works like a clock and every day will be your dream life.