Recently, I got introduced to the idea of designing my ideal week. Some of you may have heard of the “Design Your Ideal Day” exercise but this is an entire week and it’s heavily focused on your career.
I went into the exercise with a relatively low expectation as to the results it would produce in my own career.
The power of intention.
The reason I fell upon this powerful exercise was that a recruiter asked me to list the Top 10 Companies I’d like to work for as either a contractor or employee – or even as a collaboration.
Again, I thought this exercise was dumb, but I’ve adopted the mindset to always try new things and see where they lead.
I wrote down my list of top ten companies and for the last five years there has been one name that’s been at the top of the list. This company was the reason I changed my life and they are responsible for my obsession with personal development.
Once I committed this list in writing and sent it to my recruiter, it made everything clearer.
What happened next was where the surprise came: The owner of the company that was at the top of the list reached out to me on LinkedIn.
I mean WTF. How does that happen? It’s called the power of intention.
“When you’re clear about what you want, things start to align”
The owner of this business then had several phone calls with me and eventually after a few weeks, flew to Melbourne to spend four hours with me.
At the end of the session, being a man who’s been surrounded by leaders in the personal development industry, he asked me to design my ideal week. I did what he said.
Start with putting aside a day.
The very thought of this exercise felt like a mammoth task. I sucked it up like the princess I can sometimes be and set aside a whole day. You can’t truly get into designing your life and career unless you put aside time.
I began the task at 8 am on a Friday and ideas and thoughts started to flow out of me. I was in a state of flow the entire day. I felt the passion oozing out of me and boy was it exciting!
“The artwork that is your life cannot be painted in an hour – you need significant chunks of time set aside to do what most are unprepared ever to do”
The nuts and bolts of designing a 7-day week.
Like all my advice I’m going to keep the How-To part dead simple.
- Open a blank Word Document
- Title the document “My Ideal Week”
- Set aside one page per day and start with Monday
- List all the tasks and habits you’ll be doing for each day (ensure career tasks are there too)
- Map out every task with a time next to it and include sleeping/eating too
That’s it! So freaking simple that a five-year-old could do it. We need to keep chatting about this though because there’s a few things to know before you begin the exercise.
If you’re trying to mimic similar results, you’ll need some inspiration as well.
This was a hack I learned from Ryan Holiday although I do it differently. Ryan advocates that you should listen to the same music over and over while you’re in a creative space and completing an exercise like this.
I tried is hack and it failed. Listening to the same soundtrack over and over gets boring for me and it becomes annoying quickly. What works for me is to go to YouTube and select an 8-hour long movie soundtrack playlist. There will be huge peaks and moment of near silence.
This type of music that is continually different allows you to reflect on your thoughts with a variety of different perspectives. Different types of music affect you differently.
Designing your ideal week requires emotion.
That’s one of the reasons for the music playing in the background. I also did another house clean out (yes I’m a crazy minimalist!) before beginning the exercise. There were letters from ex-girlfriends and reminders of past businesses that failed badly.
I chose to discard these items right before designing my ideal week (my new life) as a symbol that change is coming. My mind began to adopt the same thinking and triggered states of massive change in my physical being.
Completing a task that has the sole outcome of producing change needs emotion. Emotion moves you into action and gives you the energy you need to execute rather than procrastinate.
Empty space and procrastination are required.
Throughout the day of designing your ideal week, you’ll discover moments of empty space and procrastination. Tim Ferriss talks a lot on his podcast about the value of procrastination.
“I used to think procrastination was a disease until Tim Ferriss opened my eyes to the benefits”
As I designed my ideal week, I scheduled an hour on Saturdays for procrastination so I could stop feeling bad about it.
Procrastination and empty space are where ideas will come to you that you can add to your ideal week. It’s a beautiful thing procrastination.
Your habits will be revealed.
Habits and success are spoken about as being directly related all the time. I agree.
By designing your ideal week, you’ll see what you do consistently. There will be common themes.
During my day of designing my ideal week, I saw that blogging and health were key themes in my life. I realized at the end of the exercise that I could not live without either.
I even wrote a quote at the end of my ideal week document that said: “To not blog equals failure to me.” That’s how powerful it can be to write your days down in this format.
Where your time is spent can be difficult to see.
This exercise will allow you to clearly see where you’d like your time to be spent. After you’ve completed the exercise, you can compare the results with what your actual week looks like.
This incredible comparison will show you how your career is right now and where you’d like it to be. You’ll have a roadmap of exactly the differences of where you are today and where you want to be.
Epic isn’t it?
The separation between life and work should be blurred.
Your ideal week will have tasks that are related to your career and tasks that are outside of that area of your life. What I found so magical about this exercise is that by the time I had completed the seventh day, both my career and life seemed to blend into one.
What I was doing in my career was the same as what I wanted to do outside of my career. My vision to inspire the world through personal development and entrepreneurship is currently done outside of my career mostly.
In the new context of my ideal week, I could now see how the two could become one.
When the intersection of your career, life and passion comes together, that’s when you go on to experience the success you’ve always wanted.
That’s what it’s like to live your passion and jump out of bed.
Review 48 hours later
Upon completing the ideal week exercise, I want you to go back and review it 48-hours later. I want you to make any necessary changes to each day.
When I did this, I realized that I had left out date night with my girlfriend which is a key component to my week. In the rush of passion that comes from doing this exercise and the state of flow that you’ll be in, it’s easy to leave things out or forget items that matter to you.
Time to design your ideal week.
Everything I have just mapped out for you has the power to change not only your career but your life. This exercise is transformational – and it will give you a clear picture of what you want.
Half the battle is knowing what you want before you can go out and get it. I get so many emails from people that have all the so-called “Success Habits,” and I find the biggest challenge is knowing what your passion is, and what you actually want.
Enjoy designing your ideal week.
You only get one life and one career. It’s time to design it how you want it.
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