Last week I asked a client to describe his perfect day, an ideal day, just the way he wanted it.
It was clear he had never come across that idea before and had never even considered the question. Worse, it was also obvious until that moment he wasn’t sure he was allowed to think that way. He was behaving as if no one had ever given him permission to think about ‘a perfect day’. Am I even allowed to have such a thing?
We did get something eventually but it’s a hard question if you’ve never considered it and takes some pondering.
Sometimes it’s because your experience of life has ground you down so far the idea of a perfect day is laughable but more often it’s faulty thinking about the way your life operates that’s getting in the way.
It set me thinking again about this mystery of how hard it is for many people to articulate what they want. And also about the switch from a Driver to a Passenger. Often, what unlocks the changes you want in your life is realising something about the way our world works.
Not that hard, shiny stuff made of oil. You know, plastic; pliant, flexible, soft and workable. Ductile. It moves.
This is not how most people regard life. They view it as rigid, inflexible, something that happens to you.
When you realise this is not the case you’ll never be the same again.
The world tends to wrap itself around people who want to do something, it makes way, the waves part and let you through, then rearrange themselves around the change you have made.
It’s always been this way.
Here’s an, overused, quote from WH Murray who ran The Scottish Himalaya Expedition in 1951:
But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money — booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
The key here is to start, to move and more often than not, when you move, the waves part to make way for you.
Here’s a more modern example, Steve Jobs in 1994:
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money…that’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
The minute you understand that you can poke life… that if you push in, something will pop out the other side. You can change it. You can mould it. That’s maybe the most important thing.
You may not find it natural to think this way, and it’s easy for me to sit here typing this, so how do you start to see the world as plastic? For starters, do these two things:
• Start acting as if your choices create your circumstances — whatever they are.
• Start to act as if you have the power to change your situation by making different choices. It’s the only way to find out if this is true.
I’m not talking about the Law of Attraction nonsense here – the world moves when you act not when you visualise. It’s the acting that does it.
I don’t know whether we do create all the results in our lives but I do know that by acting as if we do, we greatly increase our ability to change all our results. And those who do this frequently discover that our soft, flexible, plastic, world will deform itself along the direction you choose.
So, what’s your ideal day and how close are you to living it?
PS – Life’s complicated. I have two or three ‘perfect day’ variants depending on what I’m doing. Yep, you can have more than one ideal day.