There are a few ways to think about what you want in life.
- You can think of things you want (material possessions).
- You can think of relationships you want (friendships, family, romance).
- You can think of categories of needs (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional).
One great way to simplify all of this is to design your perfect day. The only chunk of time we ever have to work with is the day, the rising and setting of the sun. So it makes sense to think about the best possible day as a framework for where you want to be in life. If you could live out one day for the rest of your life, how would it be structured?
If you have a significant other or a 9-5 job, your list might look different than mine. That’s fine. Try to make your perfect day somewhat realistic. In other words, if you’re never going to move to Fiji, don’t have your perfect day revolve around exploring Fiji. If you’re going to work in an office for your career, then include the perfect workday into your plans.
Here’s my perfect day. I’ll explain my reasoning for each choice.
My Perfect Day
Rather than doing things at specific times, my list adds up to 16 hours, which leaves 8 hours for sleeping. This is flexible, which fits my desire to be open for spontaneity. That said, I would prefer this order of events.
Healthy Breakfast (45 min)
As simple as this sounds, I often fail to eat a good breakfast. Sometimes, I’m too tired or lazy to fix it. Other times, I don’t have the right food at home. During my perfect day, I have my favorite breakfast foods ready to go—avocado, grapefruit, and eggs—and I devour them
like a gruesome monster. This is a big part of physical health and starting the day off well. There’s nothing as empowering as a strong start to your day!
Write (2.5 hrs)
This is what I do for work. I also find writing to be fulfilling and cathartic, so that’s a bonus. I like the idea of knocking out a significant amount of work in the morning. It makes everything I do afterwards feel better.
Beach / Walk / Hike / Nature (1 hr)
This is the too-often neglected part of my life. I think it’s important to spend time in nature, or at least to walk around in the city a little bit if nature is out of reach. The main idea is to get out of the house (the struggle of the self-employed).
Lunch (45 min)
I’d probably go out for lunch for my perfect day. There are a lot of delicious lunch options out there, and this is sandwiched (lunch pun) between my most active parts of the day. I really like to go out to eat, too, so I’ve got to have at least one meal at a restaurant in my perfect day.
Workout + Shower (2 hrs)
I like to alternate weights and cardio (specifically, basketball) each day. Working out is a part of my perfect day because it makes me feel great on multiple levels. It’s been shown to improve everything from your mood to your brain to your biceps. Absolutely essential!
Email + Write (2 hrs)
The first thing I’d do after exercising is respond to email. This is strategic, as email responses don’t require too much mental effort (like writing content does). It’s a good way to ease into my second and final writing session for the day.
Dinner (1 hr)
Ideally, I’m fixing dinner here. I’m getting more interested in cooking, especially because restaurants add in a lot of unnecessary junk to their food. Making dinner could steal some time from another area, but that’s fine. My perfect day isn’t rigid, and if I miss something or have to cut something short, I know it’s for a good reason.
Social / Fun / Games (4 hrs)
Four hours is too much? Surely you jest! Playing and socializing are vital. If anything, four hours is not enough time. Society tells us that we’re allowed one 30 minute TV show for 12 hours of work, but society is wrong. An even split of work and play keeps us refreshed and at our best while we are working.
I’ve said it before, but time spent working is an incomplete measure of productivity. Being effective is more important. As for socializing, fun, and games, my dream is to have a close core of friends not unlike the show “Friends” and also a best friend (wife) to share my life with. (For that to happen, I realize I may need to stop moving to a new state every six months.)
Since I’m single, the perfect day would involve some nights spent with friends, others would be spent alone with a good TV show or video game, or working on one of my fiction projects.
Piano (1 hr)
I really want to learn piano. I don’t have one. My apartment is really small and I’m not sure I could fit one in here comfortably. Music is a powerful emotional expression, and piano seems to speak to me the most. Its sound is so ethereal that it blows my mind. Believe it or not, this would be a key part of my emotional health. It would be able to express and release feelings I would otherwise not know how to express or release.
Read (1 hr)
I need to read for work, and I need to read because I’m a human. As one of the best things you can do for your mind, your mental agility, and your knowledge, reading really is fundamental. Doing it before bed is criminally brilliant because reading always puts me to sleep anyway.
After such a brilliant day, I’d lay my head down to rest. I’d briefly run through the wonderful experiences I had, the skills I furthered, and the work I accomplished. My mind would be calm and satisfied. My body would be delightfully exhausted, embracing the mattress like an old friend, and I’d drift away into a deep slumber until the sound of roosters awoke me the next day to do it all over again. I woke up to roosters in Kauai, Hawaii and loved it, so that’s a part of my perfect day. Hey, I should get a recording of a rooster as my alarm clock sound! Right now, I get woken up by loud drilling from the construction site next door. It’s not quite as gentle as a rooster.
My Perfect Day: Final Thoughts
If there’s one thing that jumps out to me about my perfect day, it’s that freedom is more of a factor than money. One might say that I have this freedom because I have sufficient money, but it’s more the fact that I’ve chosen a career that allows for this freedom. I would still do this if I made just enough money to scrape by.
Many people sacrifice freedom for money—they work 90 hours a week for a fat paycheck. Others sacrifice money for freedom—they make less than they could so that they can do what they want. It’s not right or wrong to value money or freedom more for any period of your life, and you can always change priorities, but it’s definitely something to think about.
Looking at my list again, these activities that comprise my perfect day don’t cost (much) money. They’re all in the vein of creating, exploring, socializing, and playing. Even if/when I have enough money to retire, I don’t plan to retire, as I can’t imagine how not writing anymore would benefit me. I enjoy writing, which is why it’s a key part of my perfect day.
Now it’s your turn. Craft your perfect day assuming 16 hours of awake time (sleep is important). You’ll discover what really matters to you, and it will give you ideas for how you might change your typical day for the better.