How changing what I did every day changed my life.
These are 5 important questions to ask yourself today.
I have some questions for you:
1. How was your day today?
2. When you look back on all the things you did today, did you act like the person you wish to become?
3. If you repeated today every day for the next year, where would you end up?
4. If you really want to accomplish your goals and dreams, how much differently would your regular day need to be than today was?
5. In order to achieve your dreams, what would a "normal" day look like?
I’ve learned that if my days aren’t solid, my life won’t be solid.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” — Mahatma Gandhi
On that, Gandhi was completely right.
When I don’t act in accordance with my values and goals every day, I’m internally conflicted in my life.
I usually know that I should be doing certain things if I want to reach my goals — whether that’s working on a project, being present with my loved ones, or a number of other things — and still, I knowingly act in contradictory ways.
If you're like me, maybe you justify your behaviors and convince yourself you’re still on the path toward your dreams. But I've learned that my behaviors directly translate into my results. And when I consciously sabotage myself, I cannot have confidence. Instead, I end up with a handful of depression and identity confusion.
So how close are you to living to your values and goals?
In other words, how internally conflicted are you? In my case, the answer is … maybe quite a bit.
I constantly check Facebook and Twitter despite knowing it keeps me from getting into flow.
I’m addicted to my wife’s homemade bread with Nutella spread on it, despite knowing that it probably keeps me from having the ripped abs I want.
I often go days without writing despite knowing that each day I don’t create might add months to my goals.
One of the best ways I've found to consciously design my ideal life is to start with my ideal day.
You are the only one who can define happiness and success for yourself, and your ideal day should be based on what you imagine as "the good life."
What activities must happen daily for you to live exactly how you want to be living?
For example, my ideal day includes the following activities:
- 7–8 hours of deep and healthy sleep
- Conscious eating, which includes simple foods and less than 300 calories of junk food and at least one meal each day eaten with my wife and kids
- 30–60 minutes of exercise
- 15–30 minutes of prayer and meditation
- 1–2 hours of engaged learning
- 3–5 hours of undistracted writing (which doesn’t include email, unless I’m specifically reaching out to someone)
- 2+ undistracted hours playing with my kids (no smartphone)
- 1+ undistracted hours one-on-one with my wife (no smartphone)
It doesn’t matter in which order these activities occur. No two days are exactly the same. But if I did all of these activities, I’d still have over three hours of "in-between" time to check email, eat meals, drive, give spontaneous service, be distracted, talk on the phone to a friend, and all the other things that pop up.
Of course, my days don’t always reflect what I’ve detailed above. Probably half of my days look like that. The other half are a lesser version filled with intermittent self-sabotage.
But if I were to consistently live my ideal day, every day, where would I be one year from now? Where would I be in five years? Probably somewhere great.
Most of us can be in almost complete control of how we spend our time.
This is all easier said than done, of course. I know that. But it’s completely possible to live intentionally and congruently. It’s completely possible to replace bad habits with good habits.
In fact, research shows that when our goals are specific (day to day), intrinsically motivating (things we care about), and time-bound (on a deadline), we’re more likely to keep going until we succeed.
Meredith Willson said it best: "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays."
How you spend each day is a clear indicator of who you are and who you will become.
So take a few minutes to imagine what your ideal day would look like.
Make a list of the activities that would be in your ideal day.
Start tracking how you currently spend your days.
Once you start tracking your time and become conscious, you might be stunned how internally conflicted you are.