Ever struggle to define your ideal life? What would that even look like? What would that contain? What emotions would prevail as the target for your life?
It’s far too easy when perusing social media to get caught up in the glamour of somebody else’s ideal life (or at least what appears like a glamorous life) and to think that’s what you want. But what suits one person does not necessarily suit another. The beauty of the ideal life is that it is totally and completely an uniquely yours! You get to design it and customize it. But how do you even start?
Today I want to share with you a stream-of-consciousness exercise that may help you uncover little clues as to what your ideal life could include. This isn’t a one-stop completely-defined-life exercise, but rather it may guide you toward forming a definition so that you can answer the question:
What does my ideal life look like?
First, print off this free printable pdf file, or create your own page, like I did (below) in a sketchbook. It doesn’t need to be fancy.
How to do the Exercise
The exercise is simple, yet powerful. Find a quiet moment where you won’t be interrupted. Read the prompt at the top of the free printable, or write the following:
Once upon a time, a girl decided to be still and. . .
Let your subconscious take over and write whatever pops into your head in list form, don’t correct or second guess your responses.
Some of my responses were:
- her world opened up
- she started breathing
- she felt joy
- she created
- she didn’t need to save the world
- she cherished relationships
- she listened to God
- she felt safe
This exercise came to me one sunny day a few years ago while sitting outside on a blanket with my kids. As they were quietly working on their school work, I had my drawing notebook and some gel pens and this question came out on the page. I started to write my responses without thinking. When I looked at the finished page, I realized that I was moving way too fast in my every day life and failing to capture the emotions that I really wanted to feel. I was not living my ideal life.
Statements like, “She didn’t need to save the world,” helped me see that I was currently living too much in the realm of self-sacrifice and dealing with a “savior complex”, or co-dependency. The opposite of those things was my clue as to what I really wanted to feel, which was emotional freedom and healthy relationships that honor boundaries. In order to get that, I had to do some work on myself. The ideal life doesn’t just appear because we define it, often change is required to achieve it. This exercise may help you see a little more clearly where to begin.
Your list serves as a current snapshot of your heart’s longings, many of which you can go on to refine further and break in to actionable steps for change or growth. Often our true desires don’t surface unless we are still. Try this exercise and see what rises for you!