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The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. -Bob Moawad.
Ever sit down to work, and there is so much going on that you don’t know where to start? I used to struggle with beginning new projects because there were so many things flying around in my head that I couldn’t possibly handle them all at the same time.
Writing down all our to-do items and prioritizing the most important ones of the day is one way to clear all the mental clutter, but sometimes when you’re really swamped, long and complicated to-do lists can become a dead-weight around your neck.
In his book, “Your Best Just Just Got Better” Jason Womack talks about imagining your ideal day, then writing down word for word what that would look like in order to be productive, successful and get more out of life. Sceptical at first, I did some research of my own to see if this was true:
Is it possible to visualize an ideal day, where you work productively, and actually enjoy doing so, and then, to go out and make this ‘ideal’ day a reality? Brain studies seem to point to a resounding “yes” to that question.
If you’re a skeptic like me , you’re going to love this article in Psychology Today about Natan Sharansky, an inmate in solitary confinement who visualized the moves in a chess game with himself for years – who – brace yourself – actually beat a world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996.
The Power of Imagery
Most of us jump into our day without giving much thought to exactly what we are trying to accomplish. Its funny that many of us are addicted to making elaborate long-term plans, but when it comes to implementing them in the day-to-day, we are incredibly lazy.
Maybe it isn’t laziness, though, that keeps us from taking steps everyday and create conditions in which we can work productively to make our ‘ideal’ life a reality.
Maybe its our recurring thought patterns that keep us unproductive. Brain studies reveal that thinking about an action fires the same pathways in your brain as doing it. So if you’re in the habit of visualizing failure and struggle, that’s exactly what you will get served. The popular book, “Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain“, covered a multitude of studies pointing to the fact that mental imagery influences motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. In a way, your brain is being primed for actual performance during visualization. This simple method of creating a mental “reset” can enhance motivation, increase confidence, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and get yourself into the “zone”.
So, indeed, visualizing your best day can definitely help you turn it into a tangible reality!
Actionable Exercise: Your Best Day Ever!
Envision the best day of your life. Think in specific goals, outcomes or experiences. The day where you can choose to do anything, or be anyone. What will you wake up and do in the morning? What is the weather like, the smells, the sounds. Really get in there and imagine the detailed elements of the situation as if you were really experiencing them right now. Engage as many of your five senses as you can while you hold his picture of the ideal day. What are you feeling emotionally? What is your physical environment like?
Now, make a list of these “real” elements. How many of these can you incorporate into your day tomorrow?
My list looked like this:
I wake up, stretch gently, sneak out of the room while the baby is sleeping in the dark room shielded from the bright Indian sun by heavy canvas blinds. Pad to the bathroom where the extreme heat of the shower jolts me awake and refreshes me for the rest of the day. Grabbing my Macbook and iPad, I head down for some Chai Tea while I check on the Liftree website and spend some time attending to my social networks.
Spend some time with the toddler when she’s up, then get dressed and leave to work outside. Previously, I’ve taken my gadgets to work in a gym, a mall, my husband’s office, our home-theatre basement and once, even to a cocktail party where I received strange looks.
You may not be able to do all of these things. Maybe not even most of them. That’s okay. You are stepping onto a new path towards this fabled ideal life. Like with everything else, it will take time and experience to reach where you want to be.
The most valuable insight I gained form this exercise was that your day can be anything you want to make of it. Obviously, we are all limited by our lifestyles and our means, but rather than use it as a crutch and an excuse, why not stretch out of your comfort zone and aim for what you really want? If you focus hard enough, you just might get it!
Reflect on this…
If you really want to be productive, you can be. You need to remind yourself everyday that productivity is a choice. Your desire to reach your dreams must be stronger than the desire to stay in your old ruts, falling back into mental patterns that don’t serve you. Reflect on the following to get the most our of the “Best Day Ever” exercise:
What will your morning be like? Describe the sights, sounds, smells of your ideal morning. Do you smell coffee brewing, do you sip your green tea staring out at your backyard garden?
What things will need to be in place before you embark on your day’s journey so you can be really productive?
What will it take to keep you motivated and inspired? Music, an accountability buddy, bribing yourself with red-velvet cupcakes. Anything goes!
As I leave you with this first article of our productivity intensive, I want you to really start thinking about where you want to start heading in our work and personal life. I want you to start looking at where you are right now, and imagine where you want to be. If you feel comfortable, share this with us in the comments below: What does your “Best Day Ever” look like?
Our favourite reply will get a shoutout in tomorrow’s post about quieting your mental chatter to make space for productive thoughts.