“Tell me about your ideal day.”
This is one of my favourite exercises to do with career coaching clients, but it has stumped more than a handful of terribly smart, terribly motivated people. And yes, that’s part of why it’s one of my favourites.
How many of us come up against a mental brick wall when invited to dream, to think in terms of infinite possibility?
For practical, rational thinkers this exercise is particularly difficult, and therefore especially powerful.
Challenging that big chunk of grey matter that tells you “Be rational, be prudent, think realistically,” can break open all kinds of wonderful new perspectives, but it takes a certain willingness to cast caution to the wind.
Why not give it a try?
For this written exercise to really take hold and work, allow yourself quiet time for reflection and make sure to access both your intellect and your emotions.
Imagine a day in your ideal life. Describe the moment you wake up, where you are, who you’re with, and go from there to the moment your head hits the pillow at the end of the day. What will you eat in the morning? Where will you spend most of your time? Who will you spend it with? Are you at work for part of the day? What does that look like? What do you do there? What are your colleagues like? How about your boss? Do you even have one? Or do you work at home, for yourself? How does that feel? What about when you’re not working? How do you spend those precious hours? What do you see when you look out your window? Is it markedly different from your real-life neighbourhood? Are you in a completely different city/province/country? What’s great about where you live? Why do you want to be there? How does the air smell? How tall do the trees grow, and is it raining or sunny?
How did that go? Any surprises? Any challenges? Did you get stuck anywhere?
You can see how this exercise will take some time, if you really want to do it justice. You can also see how it takes us to a level of self-awareness most of us simply don’t have or make the time to access on most days. That’s why it’s so important to do.
When we give ourselves space and time to dream, we tap into our most creative spirits.
And if we’re going to uncover our authentic vocation, what we really want to do for 40-plus hours per week —before we start analyzing how many computer programs we know and how great we are at reaching sales targets — this is one of the best, most fruitful places to start.