What if you could noticeably improve your career overnight?
I’m not talking about a dramatic change, necessarily, but a noticeable one: a quantifiable amount of improvement very, very quickly. This is what’s possible with my Lunch with Oprah ideal day visualization, adapted from the work of Martha Beck.
A powerful visualization
Imagine it’s 3ish years in the future, and you’ve achieved everything you’ve ever wanted. You’re living your most ideal life.
Today is an ordinary workday. (It’s not a day off of work, or a particularly special day.) But it is wonderful. Allow yourself to be silly, dream big, and be unrealistic. You could wake up in New Zealand and have lunch in New York with Oprah, work with the late Fred Rogers, and have the body of someone 10 years younger. Let whatever comes to mind be okay.
Begin when you awake in the morning. Do you smell anything? How does the bedding feel against your body? As you get ready for the day, notice what’s in your closet. Where do you go? What do you do next? What’s for lunch? Continue noticing how your ideal day unfolds, right up to climbing into bed and closing your eyes at night.
As you visualize this day, use all of your senses to notice your surroundings. What do you feel, hear, see, smell, taste?
Close your eyes now, visualize your ideal day, and write down everything you notice.
Using what you’ve seen
Now that you have detailed notes about your ideal workday, use it to inform how you can make your life more ideal than it is today.
Use this to make your work life more ideal than it is today.
First, notice with gratitude everything you wrote down that you already have in your life.
Next, notice the aspects of your ideal day that you don’t yet have. Which of these are you most excited to bring into your life?
Finally, brainstorm potential action items to make your life more like this ideal day. Be sure to capture ideas for those aspects that you’re most excited about.
Get creative! For example, I once wrote in an ideal day visualization, I can see both the ocean and mountains. I still live in Nebraska, but a large photo print from our trip to Milford Sound, New Zealand—a picture with both ocean and mountains—now hangs above our couch. (See pic above by Kimberly Dovi!)
Pick one low-cost idea (considering your physical effort, emotional effort, time, money, and any other potential costs) and commit to taking action on it. Write down your detailed action item (make sure it’s easy, with no emotional resistance) and when you will complete it. (Schedule it in your calendar, write it in your Notes app, whatever your preferred get-things-done process is!)
To spark your creativity, here are a few examples of low-cost actions that people have taken after completing this exercise:
- cracked open bedroom windows
- lit a candle after work
- switched from efficient Keurig to delightful French press brew
- asked the building crew to add her office to the cleaning schedule
Here’s what one Career Clarity student had to say about the course and this Lunch with Oprah exercise in particular:
“I love the self-awareness I’ve gained through Mandy’s training. For example, I use one of her exercises over and over, every time I get lost in the hustle, to make sure that what I’m doing will get me to my ideal day.”Cathy
Like Cathy, you might come back to this exercise regularly. I recommend doing so every six months, or any time you notice that your reality has shifted and your dreams may have expanded. You could spend a couple of minutes with it or a luxurious hour or more. Follow whatever sounds fun!
Create your perfect workday
For more exercises like this, as well as 150+ self-care activity ideas and 50+ journaling prompts, pick up a copy of My Tender Loving Self-Care Journal.