Imagine this: on some other Earth, you have a twin. You look alike. You sound alike. You even think alike. You are different in only one way: your actions. Your twin, you see, is living your ideal life -- going the places you put off going, finishing the personal work you tend to set aside, and, every single day, taking some action that moves the twin closer to the themes you discovered in your happiness islands and achievement islands.
What is your ideal self like? And what is he or she doing, on a daily basis, that makes his or her life so different from yours? After reviewing my other "Living Your Best Life" posts, here's my list:
1. Ideal Mark meditates daily. Every day, at the same hour, without fail, he honors his meditation practice. As a result, his blood pressure is lower, and he feels more centered and connected throughout the day.
2. Ideal Mark eats thoughtfully. He chooses food that is aligned with his health and happiness goals. He pauses before meals to be thankful for the plants and animals that sustain him. He savors the food. He recognizes when he's eating because he's tired or bored or emotional, and he gently pulls himself back on track.
3. Ideal Mark is thin and healthy. He's found a way to balance diet and exercise. He's rearranged his life to prioritize opportunities to walk, to take the stairs, and make healthier choices in virtually every area of his life.
4. Ideal Mark is focused. He's relaxed. His mind is like water, flowing quickly and easily to meet whatever tasks come his way. He is less driven by to-do lists and more driven by passion and what really, genuinely needs to get done. He has a flawless sense of priority and of what really matters.
5. Idea Mark is a maker. It's his job to produce tangible, delightful things: books, articles, workshops, seminars, videos, tours, blogs -- so that, at the end of the day, he can point to what he's created with a sense of deep satisfaction and achievement. He works as well and as passionately for himself as he used to for The Man.
6. Ideal Mark is constant student. He maintains my broad fascination with everything, but he spends a little time each day drilling deeper into one or two primary areas of expertise. He's connected with other professional storytellers and travelers, and can instantly recommend resources, site studies, and quote statistics that inform his approach to work.
7. Ideal Mark guards his commitments. He is careful about what he agrees to do, and, once he agrees to do it, it *will* be done, and done well, on time. His husband and friends know they can entrust things to him, because he's careful not to over-obligate and takes commitments seriously. He chooses projects carefully, and he finishes what he starts.
8. Ideal Mark has a job that celebrates discovery and sharing. Every day is an exercise in learning something new and thinking about how that information can be creatively and effectively shared with others. He's recognized he's good at this, and he's found a way to make significant money by learning things he's passionate about and sharing those things with people who want to learn them, too -- from books, from blogs, from videos, in seminars, in workshops.
9. Ideal Mark works from anywhere in the world. With Clyde by his side, Mark might be in Chiang Mai this week and Auckland the next, because his work has him discovering new things and sharing them with people all over the globe. He can write, publish, and produce from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection. He's free of the factory mentality, and works with clients and employers who understand that where you are is less important than what you have to offer.
At first, meeting my ideal self is pretty daunting. I mean -- he's so much better than me. But I can see glimmers of him in me, and, by looking at how our efforts and habits differ, I can start steering myself, just a bit, day by day, toward living the life Ideal Mark lives.
I'm already at work -- and making progress on -- the first four items. I need to spend more time thinking about the small steps I can take every day to make just a little progress on each of the others.
Meantime: are you brave enough to go on a date with your ideal self? How are the two of you different? What does he or she do each day that you don't? And how can you begin to tweak your life so that you and your ideal self are more alike?