In the chaotic path we’re all stumbling over to complete our daily tasks called ‘life’, it can be difficult to take a few minutes out of our busy schedules to stop and wonder about the life we live, and whether it’s what we want or are we just falling into whatever is easiest to please those around us?
How often do you ask yourself ‘What am I doing with my life?’. If you don’t have time to ask yourself this question, you could be holding yourself back from achieving your true potential. On the other hand, if you find you are asking yourself this question too often, then it’s a sign that you need change.
During a coaching session with a senior manager, I was surprised to hear that he asked himself the question ‘What am I doing with my life?’ at least three or more times a week, he said some weeks it was every morning on the way to work. He would be stuck in traffic every morning for about 10 minutes, the same place every day, five days a week.
Four mornings a week he sees a man, of a similar age, dressed in trainers and fitness gear, doing his morning run. He said he longed to go for a run in the morning, but because of his schedule he couldn’t face getting up an hour earlier at 5am to fit in a 20 minute run. He couldn’t face an evening run because he was far too tired and hungry after a 10 hour working day and 2 hour commute. He was finding his job far too stressful, although he loved his work, he had found some of his staff considerably difficult and stressful to work with, and was no longer enjoying it. He knew he needed to change, but he didn’t know how this could be done.
I asked him to chose a time-frame, 6 months, a year, 3 years, 5 years, thinking into his future, and how he would like it to be. He talked about his large mortgage still to pay, and 2 teenagers at university, and because his wife hadn’t worked for over 18 years he was the sole breadwinner in the family.
I asked him to forget all the barriers, the negatives and imagine he could do anything. Then to write a letter to himself about his ‘Perfect Day’, including where he was in the world, who is with him, what is the weather like, how does he feel, what is he doing. I asked him to write it in the present tense, like it’s really happening, and put as much detail in as possible. I asked him to write it like he had found himself, the real YOU, as if life had no boundaries, or barriers, what would you do?
At first he was unsure, but he promised to humour me, and have the letter ready for our next session. I said I didn’t need to see it. He had to write it to himself and read it every day. He agreed a little reluctantly, not convinced by my reassurance of this powerful self help tool.
At our next session, a week later, he was excited about his letter to himself, that he had entitled ‘I have arrived’. He said it still was in draft format because each time he read it, before he went to bed each night, then he would add more and tweak it, and he was determined to get it perfect. I said it didn’t need to be perfect!
At our three month review, he was still perfecting his ‘I have arrived’ letter. Although his job situation hadn’t much changed, he was a lot more positive about the staff (two of the particularly stressful members of staff had left the organisation), and he had started running 4 evenings a week.
He had made a small change by drinking more water, eating a late lunch on his running days so he still had enough energy by the time he got home, starting with a 10 minute run, building up to a 30 minute run in 2 months. His health problems were improving, he had lost 14lbs in weight, and he looked so much happier.
Our six month review saw big changes. He had got down to his target weight and was looking good. Despite his wife’s reluctance, they had started with a walking group, meeting once a month. Although they had only been once, he was sure his wife would continue with him. It had given him the opportunity to talk to other people outside of work. He had been talking to his wife about starting a new business, and he felt it was the first time they had both been enthusiastic about the same thing for a long time.
After our six month follow up, we agreed that we didn’t need to have another session, but he would keep me updated.
I hadn’t heard from him until two days ago, when he called me. We were on the phone for over an hour, and I realised how much of a friend he had become. He said it was the one year anniversary of the date that he wrote the first draft of his letter ‘I have arrived’. I was surprised that firstly he had remembered that date, and secondly that a year had gone so quickly!
He was calling from Florida, USA where he was currently working. He had been for his morning run, he does 5 sessions a week now, and was enjoying a coffee next to the pool in the sunshine (it was raining in the UK and very grey!). He had two business meetings booked in and the rest of the day was reserved for enjoying the West coast to sunbathe. He asked if he could now read me his ‘I have arrived’ letter. I shrugged and said ok.
I can’t remember the detail….Something like this…
His perfect day started with a run along Sarasota beach in Florida, he had detailed the colour of the sea, the sounds, the feel of the sand under his feet, the blue sky and the birds calling. After his run he had shared a shower with his wife (x rated detail here so I’m not going to write it, but I was blushing!!), they then shared coffee next to the pool!
You cannot believe the size of my goosebumps at this point!
The day went on… He had a business meeting with 5 prospects as he and his wife shared a business that they loved. He had even named the business so he must have been thinking about it for a long time! The business was growing so much that he gave up his regular day job to travel all around the world. His health was good and his wife had started running with him. Her depression had reduced. It went on in detail, where they had lunch, they went sailing and then enjoyed a hearty meal in a good restaurant with good friends. The day ended with a bit more x rated activity!
He said it was almost there. He was about to have his perfect day! The business that he only started 6 months ago (apparently after our last session together), was growing considerably. His wife had been medication free for two months (although he hadn’t got her running – yet!) and they had booked their evening meal in a restaurant they had wanted to go to for years.
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or be a little bit freaked out by the detail in which his perfect day had almost happened. He had come so far from where he had been only a year earlier.
Hearing his Perfect Day also made me smile for a long time, knowing that I have friends that are growing and developing their lives and I’ve helped with that, just a little. I planted a seed and encouraged it to grow. I also love how a colleague turns into a lifelong friend.
It’s made me determined to re-write ‘My Perfect Day’ (as mine is 5 years out of date and no where near the same kind of detail that it should have). Perhaps I’ve delayed that because I’m so grateful to live the life I want.
Is it your time to work towards your ‘Perfect Day’, to aim towards finding you?
Please leave your comments, I’m interested in hearing how you feel about what you’ve read and how you can make changes by planning your Perfect Day.
International Business Coach
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