To Discover Your Goals, Imagine Your Perfect Day
My life is better because I’ve done Barbara Sher’s ‘Perfect Day’ exercise every year
My daughter will soon finish graduate school. Her whole world is filled with possibility, and as her mother, this is incredibly exciting to witness. While she was in town recently, we were talking about how she can set goals that will lead her to the life she wants, goals that aren’t based on anyone else’s definition of success. I introduced her to an exercise that I’ve done every year since I was her age. I like to call it The Perfect Day.
The exercise is based on a prompt from Barbara Sher’s classic book Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want. Basically, you envision — in extreme detail — what a perfect day in your future looks like to you, and write it all down. We’re talking about a perfect average day, not a vacation day or an only-in-your-dreams day where you win the lottery or join the royal family. A day in your real world. What time did you wake up? What does your desk look like? Who are you having a conversation with?
Thinking about our ideal lives can be surprisingly difficult. We might have vague desires to pivot in our careers, or improve our health, or strengthen our relationships. But those desires remain desires if we lack a clear focus. Envisioning exactly what we’re aiming for helps us figure out the steps to get there.
Here are some tips for doing The Perfect Day exercise:
- Think about the not-too-distant future. Five years seems about right because it’s far enough for pretty much anything to happen, but not so far that you don’t seem like the same person anymore.
- Start with the moment you wake up. Imagine your bedroom, how you feel, what your day has in store for you, how you spend your morning, and go from there.
- Make sure you write about things you actually want in your life. Even when I was a seriously poor single mom, I was surprised to find that I never really wanted extreme wealth. I wanted comfort. I wanted enough. You might feel differently. Maybe when you think about your perfect day, you’ve got Oprah’s money. If you do, you’ll need to make sure that you imagine the kind of life that creates that kind of wealth.