Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art Of Non-Conformity, asked the question: “How would you live your ‘ideal day’, within the context of your ‘ideal life’?” What can you do each day to make it an ideal day, to bring your life closer to your ideal life?
When I came across those words, it really made me think about life, and what we want out of life. How would one go about living an ideal life. Because, let’s face it, isn’t that what we all want, a perfect life? And in order to have a perfect life, must we not live each day according to what we would consider the perfect life? As Annie Dillard said: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”.
In order to live a perfect life, we first have to figure out what our ideal life would be. You have to be a bit realistic here. Who doesn’t dream of one day retiring and doing whatever they want. For us artists, that usually means painting (or writing, or whatever) full time. I used to dream that dream, and then I retired and now I find that I don’t paint full time. But I do paint regularly, but full-time, like a job, no. I found very quickly that that was too much like work and it was taking the fun out of it.
So job #1 is figuring out what we want our lives to be like. Job #2 would then be to start making changes to the way we spend our days, every day, so that slowly, over time, our life becomes more and more the way we want it to be. And eventually, if we spend most of our days in an ideal way, our life will become exactly what we wished for. We do make our lives what they are; it’s up to us.
So how do we go about living each day in such a way as to improve our life and bring it closer to what we wish for? First we have to figure out what is important to us; what things, what activities, and what people are most important. Then we have to make sure that we make time for those important people and things. I know it’s not easy. I know there are many other things that get in the way. Perhaps it’s in setting priorities. Perhaps we need to decide that cleaning the house is less important than spending time with our kids. Perhaps we need to realize that looking after everyone’s needs must include looking after our own needs, and that we must make time for ourselves too.
This will be different for everyone, and it will be different at different stages of life. But we must begin. Sometimes, this may involve some hard decisions; sometimes it may involve taking some risks. I didn’t say it would be easy, but we must begin for if we don’t, we will surely never get there.
If the way we spend each day, determines how we spend our lives, then let’s make it count. Let’s spend each day doing the things we love. Let’s make time for the things (and the people) we love. Let’s not wait until we are old to suddenly discover we spent our time on the wrong things. Let’s make sure our priorities are the right ones.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility”. (Eleanor Roosevelt)