There is a popular self-improvement exercise called the “Perfect Day”. The exercise is essentially a cut-down version of some writing by Paul Myers, a more extensive look at goal-setting, which you can read here.
In essence, the “Perfect Day” idea is to write down an outline of an ideal day. Minute by minute what you would do, who you would meet etc. etc. Once this plan is established, all you have to do is make incremental steps each day so that you are a bit closer to your ideal life, and of course with enough time (and often sooner than you expect), you are living a life that you conceptualized as perfect.
This idea became incredibly popular with the self-improvement crowd, and a number of authors reviewed or suggested improvements to it.
Here’s one example from Chris Gullebeau.
I’ve had a better idea. Why stop at the Perfect Day? Wouldn’t you rather be a Perfect Person?
Introducing the Perfect Person
Imagine a person who is ideal. Everyone has their own subjective opinion of what they would be like, but some things are pretty obvious and I’m sure everyone agrees a perfect person would be:
- Incredibly interesting and engaging
- Relatable and funny
- Attractive and healthy
- Passionate about their hobbies
- Individual without needing to make a conscious effort at it (no hipster glasses or swag hats)
Note that specifics are not important, like playing basketball or being 6 feet tall. What’s important is being passionate about a hobby or paying attention to health and fitness. The list above contains baseline attributes of incredible people. That guy that everyone has a good opinion of or the girl that everyone wants to be best friends with has those traits, I guarantee you.
In your head, visualize the way you would walk, talk, dress and spend your time if YOU were all of those things. It’s surprising how easy it is, and how you’re already aware of what the differences are between you as you are now and the ideal version of yourself. Now become that person.
If this sounds either too simple or too difficult, here’s some suggestions to get you started:
1. Focus on one thing at a time
You’ll never make any progress if you’re improving your posture, committing to more regular gym sessions, upgrading your fashion and learning to make people laugh in conversation all at the same time. Pick ONE difference between you and your ideal self and ONLY work on that, every day.
Stick with one modification as long as it takes to get to a point where you are completely satisfied or you’ve made substantial improvement but got bored. Splitting your attention will just overload your brain and get you nowhere. Improvements take a while to transition from conscious adjustment to internalized habits, so give them that chance.
The changes don’t have to be major either, it might be something as small as smoothing out the first 10 seconds of meeting someone new, but stay with it until you get it right. Excellence is a habit.
2. Fill your life with excitement
A perfect person doubtless has a wide variety of cool, unique hobbies. Maybe you only have one or two cool hobbies, or you consider your interests weird or unpopular. That’s fine, you don’t have to become president of six sports societies tomorrow.
Think of one new thing you’ve always vaguely thought looked awesome and find out how you can get more involved in that. Ask a friend who knows more about it to introduce you to the basics or take you along to where they participate in that activity. Google search groups/clubs/societies/lessons for that activity in your area, find out their meeting time and go along (just walk up to whoever seems in charge and say you’re new, they’ll be thrilled to have a new member).
Some obvious suggestions include:
- Dancing (whichever style appeals to you)
- Musical instruments
- Outdoor activity (fishing, hiking, almost any sport)
- Arts and crafts (painting, sketching, sculpting)
- Video or board games.
Basically every hobby is just an excuse for social interaction in any case, whether it be learning to scratch vinyl as a DJ or playing Dungeons and Dragons so it’s impossible that opportunities to meet new people and learn from them don’t exist somewhere.
Add one awesome new thing to your life each three months or so and after a year you’ll have a calendar full of exciting activities, new friends and interesting things to talk about.
Finally, don’t discount the things you already love or spend your time on. Collecting dead insects might seem strange to a vast majority of the population, but if you know how to talk about it enthusiastically and in a relatable manner you’re a person that is fascinated by the mystery of life and the ripple effect of the tiniest of creatures’ actions. If not, you’re a complete weirdo that likes jars and dead things. If you think your interests are strange or uncool then you’re likely presenting them wrong. Not every popular person you have met has the same interests, but they all possess an ability to share the motivations behind their passion. Nothing is inherently lame. Except playing World Of Warcraft and updating your Facebook status.
3. Everything can be learnt
If you’re not currently a funny person, that doesn’t mean you can’t be. Some people appear to have more comedic talent than others, but really that’s just a skill they have developed quicker through subconscious trial-and-error. I’m planning a future series post on learning, but for the moment know that being an engaging person is not something you are born with. You can learn or improve on anything with the right resources and attitude, so don’t be a victim and claim it’s impossible for you to be a perfect person. Perhaps the one exception to this is physical attractiveness (which is to some extent genetically determined), but even that is GREATLY influenced by how you exercise, how you eat, how you dress and how you present yourself.
No Strife, Perfect Life
Start waking up each day a little more perfect and I bet in a year you will barely recognize the person you used to be.