Original question from Quora:
What are the small things you can do to have a good life?
There is one small thing I did about a year or two ago that changed my life dramatically for the better. I’m not sure exactly where I got the idea, or how it started per se, but here’s what happened.
So, I was in a job situation that wasn’t the best for me. I was unhappy with my work, who I was working for, and my every day experience of life.
Do you ever have those days where you feel like you are trapped in this day that isn’t by itself very bad, but it just makes you unhappy and you aren’t sure why? I was living that day over and over again.
Every day. I was unhappy.
It didn’t seem like there was a good way out.
You know that Steve Jobs commencement speech where he talks about being unhappy in the morning when you shave before you go out to take on the day? That was my every day, even if I didn’t shave that morning.
This went on for months.
Then one day I was talking to my friend Shawn and I’m not sure if it was a blog post or something else that sparked the conversation. Somehow, we ended up talking about two things that changed my life for the better.
They are really one thing split into two parts.
We talked about defining who we really are - the core beliefs/motivations that drive us, and if those are who we are what does our perfect day look like?
I should define some things in that discussion because it’s a complicated discussion that we’ve circled around many times.
The core beliefs are for us things that really define who we are and why we do what we do. Here is what mine looks like:
Live my beliefs
Take care of family
Do great work
Tell the truth
Find the essence
I’ve reworded them various times, but that’s where I see myself operating from.
It took me weeks or maybe months to really refine them down to those six things, but that’s where things finally landed.
After I had that list, I asked myself based on what I care about “What is the perfect average day that I want to repeat every single day?”
Note that this is not a vacation you want to take like, “I want to sit on the beach in Hawaii doing nothing forever.”
This is a normal day that you want to do over and over again and that it never gets old. It can include anything you want it to include and it doesn’t have to feel attainable at the moment.
It’s like the perfect version of yourself you’d like to live out.
To crystalize that in your mind, you don’t just visualize it, you write it down and edit it until you know EXACTLY what your “perfect day” is.
Again, this process took me a while to get it right, but once I had my version of a “perfect day”, something strange started happening…
I started to make it real. Over the last couple years I’ve managed to make small changes that move me toward my ideal day. I work remotely instead of in a traditional office. The office I work out of is pretty close to my “perfect office” (it has a window and a brick wall, which is awesome). My relationship with my wife and kids is better because I’ve made changes around that. I’ve even poured myself into writing and becoming an author, which I love.
I’m not 100% to my perfect day yet, but I’m getting closer every day, every week, every year and it feels amazing. My average day is usually better than my best day before.
But here is the trick, you have to define your core beliefs and your perfect day first, then you can make it real, one small step at a time.
It is worth putting in the effort because on the other side is a life far better than you’d expect. It’s not without problems, but they are usually easier to handle because everything else is better and they don’t seem so bad.
Eventually I’ll be living my “perfect day” every day, and that is going to be spectacular, but in the meantime the “mostly perfect” day is pretty great and I’m a lot better off for it.
So, I ask you…
What is your core belief and your perfect repeatable day?
P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.