What first attracted me to FIRE was my sense of escapism. Escaping the 9-to-5, never having to work another day in my life etc etc. So imagine the surprise when I came across some lifestyle design exercises on the ideal day:
My Ideal Day is surprisingly close to my current regular work day.
It all started with an attempt to read more books in 2018.
I borrowed a whole bunch of books from my library. One of them was Click Millionaires by Scott Fox.
In Chapter 4, he has a series of Lifestyle Design Exercises and Questions to get the reader’s lifestyle redesign thought process started. One of the section is about your ideal day.
“Complete the paragraph below:
My ideal day would begin at __ o’clock in the city of _________.
I would wake up and start my day by doing _________________. Then I would ____________________. By dinnertime I would have accomplished ______________, ___________, and __________. I would do that by working with ___________, ___________, and ____________.
I would also leave time for ______________, ___________, and ____________ before I went to bed, including time to help ________________ do _______________. ”
I jumped right in filling in my favorite spots and activities:
” My ideal day would begin at 8 o’clock in the city of Tokyo (one of my favorite cities).
I would wake up and start my day by making myself a cup of Matcha. Then I would go get Ramen or pancakes for breakfast. Then I would do a fun activity like explore a neighborhood, museum or park and try a new restaurant. By dinnertime I would have accomplished some creative work like writing, art and exercised. I would do that by working with ??, ??, and ??.
I would also leave time for yoga, having a conversation with a friend or family and reading before I went to bed, including time to help my parents do ??. ”
If you read that and thought “Wow that sounds a bit lonely, and this person must be single!”. You’d be right on both accounts.
I read over the answer and did an double take. The above day is my Ideal FUN Day, but not actually the Ideal Day that I would want to live every single day.
One, I want to be physically closer to my friends and family in the day to day.
I know that telecommunication has made the world smaller than ever in history and I can still stay connected with my loved ones across the world. But I want to be at least within a 4-5 hr flight from my parents in case of emergency. I’m their only child, so I want to be there if they need me.
Also, I do love Canada and want to live here, even if it’s a frozen wonderland half the year.
Two, I do find meaning in my work.
I work in Healthcare. I think it is important and meaningful work, and some days I can help to save a life.
Some days though, it’s just hard to remind myself of the rewards of the job. On a day where you have angry aggressive patients patients, difficult doctors, hangry for not eatting for 9 straight hours (I don’t know why this is expected and taken for granted in my work setting, NO other discipline is expected to NOT EAT and work straight through lunch if needed at the Company), then get unprofessional condescending emails from management, thoughts of FIRE is hopelessly alluring.
Ultimately, I still find my work meaningful. I just want to do a lot less of it.
” My ideal day would begin at 8:30 o’clock in the city of Calgary/Toronto.
I would wake up and start my day by making myself a cup of Matcha. Then I would do some yoga and go to work outside of Rush hours (say start at 10am). Then I would connect with my coworkers at lunch by having actual conversations and maybe go for walks if weather permits, finishing work by 3 pm. By dinnertime I would have accomplished some creative work and exercised. I would do that by working with competent and reasonable coworkers, doctors and management.
I would also leave time for yoga/stretching, having a conversation with a friend or family and reading before I went to bed, including time to help my parents do ??. ”
Funnily, the above scenario is nearly identical to my current schedule other than the starting time.
I do get to commute before rush hour to get to work for 7 am. I’m just a cup of matcha away from my ideal morning.
For the rest of the day, I’ll only need to incorporate exercise before dinner, then yoga and creative work before bed.
Also I want to live more intentionally in the Present and Now, make more of an effort to have actual conversations with my friends and family.
So, basically I just need to make some small tweaks and I’ll be very close to living my Ideal Day but with longer than ideal work hours.
I really like the structure of the above exercise. As a visual person, I can visualize my Ideal Day more clearly with the incorporation of location, time block (before dinner/ before bed) and the people I’d be working with.
Jillian at Montana Money Adventures has also written a great money mentoring post on the Ideal Day/Year. She brings up an excellent point of:
” It’s very possible to create financial freedom but not know how to use your freedom to create purpose, happiness and meaning in your daily life.”
This exercise was very helpful in showing me the small steps I can take now to get yourself closer to the life I want to live.
Do you really want what you think you wanted?
I thought I wanted to travel. Well, I do, but more like for 4 months out of the year instead of the whole year.
I thought I wanted to retire/quit working. Well, I want to know I CAN retire/quit working. Really I just want to work 6 hours instead of 9 and have more time off.
I do realize now Burnout was a main motivator and roadblock in making me think I want what I wanted. A lot of my thinking was fueled by escaping work, which as it turns out, I don’t really want to escape from.
Have you tried the Ideal Day exercise? Did you discover any small things you can do to make your current day closer to your Ideal Day like I did?