When the soft grey fog of confusion settles over your life — over who you are, over what you want, over what you should do with your life — it quickly invades every part, robbing you of any scrap of fulfilment and significance.
- You work becomes meaningless and routine, even in times of victory and success
- Your conversations feel hollow and empty, regardless of the topic
- Your free time feels like gaping sinkhole devoid of passion and excitement despite the different activities you try
When you start to suffer through the mundane repetitiveness of a meaningless existence, it can be tempting to simply ask those around you for quick answers: “What the fuck should I do with my life?” But doing so is a fatally flawed avenue guaranteed to continue the cycle rather than fix it.
They’ll give you well-intentioned, but ultimately useless advice like:
- Go travelling
- Buy a cat
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Start a business
- Become an extra in a movie
- Start a band
These all sound great, but fail the ‘will this improve my life’ test because they neglect the core element of your question.
Your Real Question
When you ask the question “What should I do with my life?”, that’s not the actual question you want to be answered because the answer you get won’t directly solve your problem. The problem with your life isn’t that you don’t have a list of fun-sounding, random activities that can fill the hours between sunrise and sunset. You don’t need a list of cool-sounding activities to fill your Instagram feed so you get more likes from your friends. Your problem is deeper than that. Your life doesn’t lack activities, it lacks satisfaction. It lacks excitement. It lacks the special moments of meaning that bring joy and fulfilment to your day.
You don’t want a list of things to do, you want a way to make your life remarkable and rewarding and incredible. You want a way to feel excited when you wake in the morning and to drift into a deep and satisfied slumber at night knowing you lived a day that was truly worth living.
Your real question isn’t “What should I do with my life?” it’s “How can I make my life remarkable?”
This is important to keep in mind because the answers to the two questions are vastly different. If you keep asking “What should I do with my life?” the answer you will continue to get is just the same list of interesting sounding but ultimately useless activities you can scrape off any well-intentioned website. But the answer to ‘How can I make my life remarkable?’ is dramatically different.
How to create a remarkable life
The journey to creating a rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting life, has many steps. And while each step is important in its own right and will play a critical role in transforming your reality, none are more important than the first: creating a vision of what a rewarding, fulfilling, exciting life looks like.
This is the first and most important step because if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. You could invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars pushing towards arbitrary goals defined as important by those in your immediate circle of influence without any uptick in the level of fulfilment you experience on a day to day basis.
Not because your friends don’t mean well or you’re slacking off, but simply because you’re pushing towards goals that whilst rewarding for others, hold no special meaning for you. The only way to avoid this is by setting a clearly defined vision of
Your Life Vision
Creating a life vision is an activity that a lot of people attempt but ultimately fail because they don’t understand which elements are important and which you can ignore and the step-by-step nature of designing something as complex as a complete life plan.
To make sure you don’t waste your time and energy both in designing an incomplete life vision as well as undertaking activities that don’t move you towards your life plan, below is a simple template that has been used by thousands of people to help them overcome the four most common reasons why people fail to create their life vision.
NOTE: The exercise you’re about to read is a short version of our 10-module life designing program called Insight. If you find yourself still struggling to make meaningful progress towards your vision of your ideal life, Insight can help you by walking you step-by-step through the numerous challenges inherent in an exercise as complex as this. You can get more details here: Insight
Life Vision Challenge 1: Timeframe
The first major challenge (and solution) is hidden in plain sight, in the objective of Insight: creating your One Perfect Day. When most people attempt to create a complete and compelling life vision they sit and think “What do I want my life to look like? What kind of life do I want to live?” What they unsurprisingly find is that trying to conjure a mental image to answer a question with such a broad and vague timeline is incredibly tough.
Without setting a specific timeline, you could just write for weeks attempting to cover all the different periods of your life. After all, your ideal life when you’re single will different to your ideal life with your kids, which will be different to the ideal life when they’re grown up, which will be different once again when they start to have kids.
Until you start to limit your vision to a manageable timeframe, you’ll just end up burning precious hours writing things you’ll never use. Therefore, the first step making this process simple is reducing the scope of “What do I want my life to look like?” to a much more manageable timeframe of “What do I want one day of my perfect life to look like?”
Life Vision Challenge 2: Wasting Time on Irrelevant Details
Creating a complete and compelling life vision can take a long time. I’ve of some (incredibly committed) clients who’ve dedicated more than 40 hours over a month to create their life plans and even them felt as though they were still incomplete (note: I’ve also had clients who completed their’s in under 3 hours — it’s all personal preference).
One of the main factors that cause the timeline of completing a life vision to drag out is wasting time on details that ultimately don’t impact the level of fulfilment, satisfaction, or joy experienced in their One Perfect Day. Consider these questions:
- Does the exact shade of pink on your juicer that lives in the cupboard below your kitchen bench that you only use once a month really matter?
- Will the exact height of the sign out the front of your house make impact your level of fulfilment?
- If you could see 19 instead of 22 people walking down the street from your office window, would you feel less satisfied?
There are so many insignificant and unimportant details you can waste time on when writing your One Perfect Day. All that you’ll achieve by focussing on them is drawing out an already long process and increasing your level of frustration at how long it’s taking.
To make sure you’re able to complete your compelling life vision, make sure you don’t waste your time on things that just don’t matter. If you find yourself stuck and unsure if to include something, simply ask yourself “If this was radically different, would it decrease the level of satisfaction and fulfilment I’ll experience in my day?” If the answer is “No” then don’t even include a description and move onto the next thing that will impact your day.
Life Vision Challenge 3: Missing Important Details
Speaking of moving onto the next thing that will impact the level of satisfaction and fulfilment in your day… This is the next big issue. People spend so much time on elements that don’t matter and completely neglect those that do. They waste hours describing the way the lights in their 8-car garage reflect off the side of their Bently that they forget to include anything about the kind of person they choose to be around their friends and which elements of their work bring them satisfaction and joy.
They just waffle on about the work history of their live-in personal chef and the growth rate of their front lawn (I wish I was kidding!).
To create a life vision that’s compelling, exciting, and that motivates you to jump out of bed every morning, make sure you fill it with everything that’s really important. Don’t just write about how friends are coming over, describe them – Who are they? What do they do? How do they support you? How do they push you to become a better person? Don’t just ‘sit down and work for an hour’, describe your work – What do you do? Who do you work with? What are your main roles and functions? Which bit fascinates you? How is it all progressing? Don’t just ‘sit down to eat’, describe the food – Who made it? Why did they make it? What’s in it? How does this tie in with your diet?
Make sure to include all the details necessary to make this vision powerful and exciting.
Life Vision Challenge 4: Inconsistencies
Typically, your vision of your perfect life is composed of many different ideas from many different experiences and reference points. Maybe you include something from a magazine you read when you were 8 years old, maybe another piece comes from a movie you saw last week, maybe another bit just flies into your brain unprompted. All these individual elements sound great, but when you combine them all together, you might find there are a few inconsistencies.
Maybe your dinner is a massive banquet with friends but then instead of passing into a food coma, you jump off your back deck into the ocean for a night swim. Sounds great! But also not humanly possible.
Maybe you wake up simply covered in a sheet with your curtain flapping in the warm summer breeze but cuddle up at night in front of the fire. Once again, sounds great. But also HIGHLY unlikely to occur.
When designing your One Perfect Day, make sure you check what you create for these logical inconsistencies. The more inconsistencies, the harder it will be to create this day and the more frustration you’ll experience in the process.
Creating your One Perfect Day
Now that you understand the major mistakes people make in attempting to create a compelling, exciting, and rewarding life vision, it’s time for you to start the process of creating your own.
As you saw in Challenge 1, the question you’re attempting to answer determines some of the major roadblocks you’ll face so before you start writing, you’re going to limit your timeframe by answering a very specific question:
“If I created my perfect life in 5 years time, what would an average day look like?”
This question is important for two reasons.
- I’m sure there are many different things you want to do. Places to go, things to do, people to meet, food to eat, etc… Trying to create a vision that includes all of them is going to be incredibly tough. The above question helps you deal with that by asking you about an average day. Not an extraordinary day, not an eventful day, but an average day. The kind of day you would move through at least four and a half days per week. Don’t focus your attention on all the crazy/fun/weird shit you do on your ‘weekends’ (or whatever variation of a weekend your life vision includes), focus on the kind of day that has a particular and repeated routine to it. Regardless of your life vision, you will end up in a routine at some point (even if that routine is routinely sitting in an airport waiting to board your next flight) because you’ll eventually find things you really like and keep doing them over and over. So, focus on those things.
- As I said previously, your perfect day will be different at different stages of your life. To make sure you end up with a plan that both is far enough away to give you time to aim big, but also close enough to make it imaginable, I’ve limited the question to 5 years from now. This time limit will ensure your plan is useable and exciting enough to inspire you.
The next important element is: how do you answer this question?
Step 1: The First Moment
Most people sit down and just start listing all the different things they want to do and it just gets out of hand. They end up with pages and pages of crazy adventure, bucket-list, type activities without any cohesive plan. Their morning time is a blur of activity and there are so many things to do after dinner that they couldn’t possibly fit them all in. This obviously isn’t productive or effective.
The way to make answering this question easy is to start with the very first second of the day.
Imagine yourself waking up – maybe in a bed, maybe on sand, maybe in a spacesuit tied to a wall in the space station – and ask yourself “What would be necessary to make this moment complete?” You can include anything and everything that would go into making that moment complete for you: temperature, time of day, your clothing, the people you’re with, the texture of the surface you’re lying on, etc… Just remember not to waste your time describing anything that doesn’t directly contribute to your feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Step 2: The Second Moment
Once you’ve described everything necessary to make that moment complete, move onto the next moment and ask yourself: “What would need to happen in this next moment for it to be complete?” What do you do? Where do you go? How do you do it? Who do you do it with? Why do you do it? How well do you do it? Are you successful?
Describe the next moment in as much detail as necessary to make you experience fulfilment and excitement just by reading it.
Step 3: Keep going until you’re done
Once you’ve completed that moment, move onto the next. “What would need to happen in this next moment for it to be complete?” What do you do? Where do you go? How do you do it? Who do you do it with? Why do you do it? How well do you do it? Are you successful?
Once you’ve finished that moment, move onto the next. And then the next. And then the next. Keep asking the same question “What do I need to do in this moment to make it complete?” and answering it to the best of your ability. Keep moving forward and forward and forward until you end with you dozing off into a peaceful slumber at the conclusion of your day.
Once you’ve completed that, read through your One Perfect Day and double check for any inconsistencies. Make sure that everything aligns and is achievable in one day. If it isn’t, go back through the process of adjusting your day until you’re left with a complete and compelling vision of your life.
Once you’ve finished your revision, you’ll be left with a vision of your life that should be inspiring, exciting, and rewarding. It will be what you should do with your life because it’s a list of things that will bring joy, happiness, fulfilment and excitement to every moment of your life.
This is what you should do with your life
Don’t waste your life reading through nicely formatted ‘must read’ lists of interesting sounds activities and get sucked into losing the next 10 years of your life working through activities that lack any real meaning or fulfilment. Your life is too precious and too important for that.
Take 2 hours of your obviously uninspiring schedule to come up with your vision of your ideal life.
Work out what activities, adventures, and people will fill your life with joy and start to build that remarkable life. It’s the only way to answer the question you’re really asking and to start filling the obvious and gaping hole in your world.
If you keep getting stuck
The very first version of the Insight was just like this: one exercise with everything thrown into the mix and a lot of pressure to be very consciously aware of every part of your desired life. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people struggled to complete it. They either didn’t finish the program or did so with a vision that wasn’t inspiring and exciting.
This was obviously not ideal, so after studying their results and listening to their feedback, the program was rebuilt from the ground up. Instead of creating it as just one stand-alone exercise, the process was broken into 10 units focussing on a separate part of the process, with each lesson containing:
- A physical activity designed to help you understand and identify your desires
- A written exercise to focus on just one part of your One Perfect Day
- A concentration and awareness exercise to help you focus inwards on your internal desires
- And a self-reflection exercise to deepen the learning and give you valuable personal insights
The slower progression with the additional elements added into each lesson made it much easier for people to not only complete the exercise, but to also put something meaningful, exciting, and compelling on paper.
If you’re struggling to create a rewarding, exciting, and compelling vision and want to work through the 10-step guided program, you can access it here: Insight