Step 2 of ODDER Being: Define Your Ideal Life
Knowing what you want will help you get there.
In my life, I’ve done my fair share of coaching and I’ve noticed a pattern: whenever someone has a problem they want help with, the help they need is always one of two varieties: either help with the what or help with the how. I used to think people mostly need help with how to do something, but usually it all boils down to figuring out what they want in the first place.
You’re burnt out at your job. I hear you, your boss is a jerk, and the entire workplace is a toxic hell. Acknowledging that is all well and good, but the first question isn’t: “How do I fix it?” It’s: “What do I want my work to look like?” When I acknowledged that I wanted to have the freedom to work whenever and wherever, and decide what kind of assignments to take on, without this resulting in poor end-of-year reviews, the solution was simple: I had to become self-employed. Yes, the next step was the how, but the how was only a consequence of my decision to go down a certain path.
Your relationship is no longer fulfilling. You’re going through the motions, but there is no novelty to it. Every new day is like the last. But you still love your partner… Should you stay or should you go? The only way to make this decision without regretting it later is by getting clear on what you want your ideal relationship to look like, and then being brutally honest with yourself about your odds of getting there with your current partner. Mind you, sometimes the answer is yes! Either way, once you know what you want your relationship to be, the path to getting there will be a lot clearer (and if not the path itself, at least you’ll have an idea of where to start looking for it).
Your vision is a compass and a key
I’m not saying that envisioning what you want your life to look like is a guarantee for living it. But I am saying that not knowing what you want your life to look like almost always will result in you not living it (and if you do happen to accidentally stumble into your dream life, you might not recognize it). That’s why the first D in ODDER Being is about defining/designing your dream life. With the O, you’ve already acknowledged that your life has to be uniquely tailored to your needs. With the D, you get clear on what that kind of life could look like. There are two parts two this: dreaming and defining.
In the first part, you let go of any specific solutions and focus on the dreaming. To give you an example, 5 years ago I was in a situation where I needed a new place to stay. My problem: I didn’t want to be stuck to a long-term contract. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live 3 or 6 months down the road. Initially, I didn’t pause to design what I really wanted, I just dove right in with the house search. I found several places, but none of them felt right. I’d be stuck in this city for at least a year, I didn’t want that! Eventually, I stopped looking at specific solutions, and instead started thinking about what I wanted. I realized by dream situation was where I’d be flexible and have housing in two cities: my hometown and Amsterdam. One morning, I woke up, and my subconscious must have done its job while I slept, because suddenly I had it: I’d buy a van and try myself at van life. This proved the perfect solution, but it’s also one I would have never ever came up with if I focused on having a house, rather than what I needed my housing to be: flexible.
From requirements to solutions
Once you’re done with dreaming, you’ll find it easier to think of tangible solutions. This is where defining what you want becomes important. You’ll find it easier to design once you allow yourself to be inspired by all the kinds of life that are possible. If you read the blog on Owning, you know that we tend to imitate what we know. So the more options we see, the more inspired we become about the possibilities for our own life. Depending on your preferences this might look like going out and meeting people, reading, watching TED talks, listening to podcasts, and so much more. The key is to get a feel for lives that are different from the ones you have.
Another thing you can do is research ideas. These days, it’s as easy as asking ChatGPT: “I want [your dream]. Come up with a list of 50 different things I could do to make this happen.” Or, if you’re not a fan of AI, you can ask friends, reach out to experts, or read books on this subject.
Overall, research is more focused than inspiration, but it’s the combination that will help you design your best life.
To get started, try answering the following questions:
- What’s one area of your life you’d like to see change in? To give you some examples: your career, your romantic relationship(s), the way you keep house, your (un)healthy habits, the relationship you have with your family, your daily activities, your friendships, your financial situation.
- What about this area isn’t quite what you want it to be? For instance, maybe you don’t like the amount of time you spend on commuting.
- What would your dream scenario look like? For instance, maybe you’d love to work outside of your home, but within a 10 minute walking distance.
- What kind of alternatives do you see others do in this domain?
- Which of these alternatives would be your ideal solution?
Tip: Want to look at your entire life? Get our Odder Being Vision Cards to explore the different areas of your life and design your dream life
You’ve now completed the second step of choosing an ODDER life, Defining what your ideal life looks like. In the next step, we’re going to focus on the second D: Deciding what to focus on.