I recently read a study that shared the benefits of imagining our ideal self. It is not a daydream that it is a waste of time, but rather, it has real measurable benefits.
Why? First, imagining our ideal self and our ideal life improves mood. It takes us to a more positive mental space. If improved mood in itself isn’t enough, being in a more positive mental space helps us make better decisions that will then lead to a better life. Also, when we focus our mind daily on this version of our self and this version of our life, it is simply more likely to happen. We are more focused on creating this life and more intentional in the decisions we make. We look for and find opportunities we may have been blind to otherwise.
I can look at my own life as a case study, and see how true this is. When I was in high school and college I used to journal everyday about my ideal self and my ideal life. I would journal about my ideal college, my ideal spouse, my ideal job..etc. I remember months or years later almost being in shock when I would look back at old journal entries and the things I envisioned were all coming to fruition.
The qualities of a college I journaled about somehow describe the college I attended. The qualities of a future spouse I journaled about somehow describes that qualities of my husband. The qualities of the job I journaled about somehow matched the job I landed after college. Was this by pure chance? Probably not.
We create our own realities.
With that being said, I know sometimes things definitely do not go as planned. There are unexpected losses that come about and twists in our life that we did not expect and did not ask for. But, this study still carries good news. We have control. We have control to move forward. We have control to create a better future for ourselves. Do we have control over everything? No, there are times we have to let go of control. But be careful, don’t give away your power. Don’t let yourself just be tossed by the waves, without realizing the control you truly have to steer your life in a different direction.
But as I am sure you know, there is no steering without movement. And you must have vision first, so you know which way to steer.
So it was after college, when I stopped journaling. I had met my husband and started my job and was ready to just float for awhile. It’s okay to float for a little while. We do not need to be tirelessly pursuing something every single moment. But I floated too long. And I began to get confused about how I ended up where I did. I began to get confused about what direction I was going in the first place. I began drifting. And the destination was not where I intended to go.
If you are not actively moving forward, if you are not actively steering, you are drifting. With drifting, I suppose there is a chance you might just happen to drift toward something desirable. But my guess is, if you are reading this blog, the drift did not serve you well. You have drifted to somewhere you did not wish to go, and you are ready to move forward in a new direction.
I am happy to say, I am no longer drifting anymore. Am I sailing fearlessly ahead at full speed? Okay, maybe not. But I’m paddling. It takes some work, for sure. And there will definitely be some rapids to move through. But, whatever you do, don’t just be carried by the waves. Cast your vision and start moving forward.
Below is a reflection journal exercise I came up with to help you start focusing on your ideal self and ideal life. Please feel free to come up with your own questions that will guide your thoughts in the direction they need to go. Journal about specific areas in your life that come to mind. If you want to skip these questions altogether and just journal free association thoughts about your ideal life & self, you can do that instead. Just keep in mind that the more days a week you do a practice like this, the more effective it will be.
Imagine your life as good as it could possibly be.
What would it be like?
What would you be like?
What would you no longer struggle with?
In what ways would you be more fulfilled?
How would you spend your days differently?
Imagine how your mornings would be different.
Imagine how your afternoons would be different.
Imagine how your evenings would be different.
How would your thoughts be different?
What would you spend your time and energy on?
How would you make a positive impact on the world?
How would you give hope to others?
And to put you into motion…
Imagine that life starting today.
Imagine how you could think differently today.
Imagine how you could plan your day differently today.
Imagine doing something that would fulfill you today.
Imagine how your morning could be different today.
Imagine how your afternoon could be different today.
Imagine how your evening could be different today.
What could you spend your time and energy on today?
How could you make a positive impact today?
How could you give hope to someone today?
How could you give hope to yourself today?
If you would like to read more about the study I referenced, you can see it here.
If this article or journal questions impacted you in some way, I would love to hear about it.