Here’s an exercise that’s super important to do every couple of months, at least once a year.
Take a moment and imagine your ideal life.
If you don’t, you’re likely to stagnate or not know where you’re going. How will you know if you’re headed in the right direction?
How I’ve imagined my reality in the past.
Last year at this moment in time, I really wanted to live a location independent life, so I could work from anywhere in the world. In February of this year I more than achieved that goal.
Then I imagined living in San Francisco Bay. Within a few months I’d relocated!
You can accomplish anything.
When you put your mind to it, it’s easy to accomplish most things. The problem is that we don’t usually put our minds to anything, and thus we end up standing still. We don’t go anywhere. We’re unhappy, but we make excuses. We don’t get anywhere.
I know, I’ve been there. I spent an entire year at my day job not really caring why I was there. Sometimes it takes some time to wake up and realize that you need to make changes.
This isn’t just wishwashy ‘manifest your life’ bull crap. If you don’t actually decide what you want to do, you won’t do much of anything.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible if other opportunities come your way. It doesn’t mean you don’t give up early if your dream of being X turns out to be not exactly what you had in mind. It just means you’re constantly reaching for something greater than the status-quo.
Where dreams go to die.
If you don’t imagine the way you want your reality to end up, you will inevitably start drifting. You’ll settle down and say to yourself “this reality is fine, it’ll do for now.”
Well, your reality is NOT fine. If you settle, you’re just doing what everyone else is doing and that’s not enough. The only way to achieve ambitious goals is to realize that you can achieve them and start.
If you don’t take a moment and decide where you’re going, you’ve settled. You’re not persueing the important, you’re simply making the rounds, settled into a routine.
That works for most people, but it doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t work for you.
Why I’m writing this article.
I didn’t think this article was a good thing to write because it’s good SEO (in fact, I have no idea.) I decide to write this because it actually matters.
In the last post I wrote about a few things such as achieving location independence and moving all over the place in the last year.
A few people emailed me saying that the only reason I was able to do these things was because I’m smarter and more ambitious than most people.
That’s a cope-out attitude, and is simply not true. Everyone can achieve anything if they want it badly enough. Don’t give up, start to dream bigger.
Strategies for imagining your ideal life.
1. Think unrealistically and aim for one year in the future.
Dare to dream big. Take out Evernote or a piece or paper and list the things you want to accomplish in one years time.
For instance: buy and live on a boat, go to top-10 university, negotiate 50% bump in salary, quit job to work for yourself, etc. All are very doable, if you put 100% of you attention on the goal.
2. Eliminate everything you don’t want to do.
This is key. In my experience it’s much harder to accomplish a goal if you’re also doing a lot of other unimportant stuff.
In my ideal world, I only do three things besides what I want to accomplish with my life. 1. Eat good food. 2. Go to Yoga. 3. Sleep.
Notice that all of these things also support my goals, because they make me stronger and my mind more focused.
If you’re trying to make a car payment and also dreaming of working for yourself, you’ll spend most of your energy trying to make a car payment. This will destroy your ability to reach your goals.
Eliminate the unessential (basically everything) in order to focus on your ideal life in one year.
3. Start taking small strides toward your goal to build momentum.
Break down you ideal goal into actionable steps. And start to execute them. Start by doing an intense research session on your ideal life, read every good book you can on the subject (but don’t over-do this. Knowledge doesn’t proceed action.) Ask people who’ve done it how they did it, politely.
DO NOT ask people who haven’t done it how to do it. Most who haven’t achieved will tell you a goal is impossible. You can only learn from success stories. Non-achieving people are a lot more likely to be naysayers.
Now, decide on your first step and work until you’ve achieved it. For example, if you want to live on a boat, going sailing a few times first can bring you up to speed on how a boat actually works. Taking lessons will guarantee your knowledge. Earning money and buying a boat will solidify the deal.
4. Achieve your ideal reality.
Give yourself one year to complete your unrealistic goal of an ideal life. Don’t get sidetracked by stupid stuff that doesn’t matter.
Tell everyone you know that you intend to do what you want to do. Start a blog and write about how you’re achieving your goals in order to get feedback and possibly income to support your goals.
In one year you’ve done it, and if you haven’t it’s no one’s fault but your own. You are the decisive element.
Imagining my ideal life.
Alright, so I can’t leave you with all of this information without telling you how I imagine my ideal life. So here we go.
In one year I hope to have visited at least 10 foreign countries on a few different continents. I hope to spend at least a month in a few of them, vagabonding if possible.
Why? Because I haven’t been out of the country since I was 16. Now that I’m set up to work from anywhere, it doesn’t make sense not to travel as much as possible.
There are no vacation days involved in being a location independent professional.
I don’t want to bring my computer with me on most these trips, so I’ll need to either outsource or eliminate certain functions of my business in order to keep it going. My minimalist business is largely automated anyway, so this shouldn’t be too hard.
Now, how will I achieve these goals?
First step is getting an adult passport, since my kid one expired. I’ll be filing the paperwork next week. Next I’ll research my first location (South America, probably Peru), find an inexpensive ticket and go.
In order to fly more, I’ll be buying Chris Guillebeau’s Frequent Flier Master and invest a significant amount of time to learning how to travel hack from one of the master.
Notice how this is much easier now that I live a location independent life.
If I’d aimed to travel before I set up my business I would only have been able to take short trips during vacation time or time spent desperately searching for new temporary work. Now I don’t have to worry so much, and instead can do whatever is necessary in any place I land to facilitate my experience.
Here’s another post with a similar vibe, if you liked this one: How to Succeed By Being Completely Unrealistic.
I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. – Goethe