This is part of my series on The Six Levels of Intentionality.
The Ideal is a carefully crafted, compound definition of what exactly we want out of our life. It is a complex and layered representation of the life we want to live.
While you can think of our Ideal as being made up of dreams or long-term goals, it’s important to note that the targets in question here are not one-time accomplishments to be checked off your list; instead, the Ideal is an ongoing lifestyle to reach and maintain. It is made up of the roles you want to play or occupy such as: careers, place within your communities, relationships with family and friends, etc.
Another way to think about it is as your Areas of Responsibility projected into the future. You want to think about what Areas you want to gain, keep, or evolve.
There are many layers of our lives to consider, so we should take the time to examine our desires from different angles in order to gain the most thorough understanding. I’ve listed a few questions below to get you started, ordered from most broad to most specific, but feel free to approach however you find most natural. (You may also want to refer to other exercises and question lists on creating vision boards.)
As always, remember to record your thought process during this exercise. Recording your thoughts ensures that you can set it down and pick it up freely without having to re-do work, and uses up less of your mental capacity which is better off freed for other things.
Based on Wishes for the World
- What kind of future do you wish for your community and for the world at large?
- What must change about your community or the world for the future you wish?
- Is there a particular problem within your community you want to see fixed? What role might you be able to play in those efforts?
Based on Home and Relationships
- What kind of home, environment, and space do you want to live in?
- Who do you want to share your home or community with? (Family, co-habitation, intentional communities, neighborhoods, etc.)
- What kind of people do you want to surround myself with? (Friends, Teammates, Co-workers, etc.)
- What role(s) do you want to play in your community or in society? What do you wish to contribute to the world around you?
Based on Legacy
- What kind of life do you want to lead?
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What impact do you want to leave in the world or in your community? (Regardless of whether your name or memory is attached to it.)
- What do you want to be remembered for doing or accomplishing?
Based on Interests
- What brings you constant or consistent joy and happiness? What role does this play in your life long-term? Or, how can you make it part of your life long-term?
- How do your strongest interests intersect with the legacy you want to leave behind?
Based on Current Areas and Projects
- What current activities bring you a sense of peace and/or satisfaction?
- What Areas are you most proud of?
- What Projects and types of Projects are you most excited about?
- If you have a current area you want to evolve: Think about the current standards you have for that area, what are the regular responsibilities and expectations? How can you “elevate” those to the next level?
Now that you’ve done the work to craft your Ideal, create some kind of visual, or otherwise sensory representation of it. Be as creative and crafty as you like. Vision Board is a good place to start, but you can also make a playlist or mixtape with songs or sounds that represent different aspects of that Ideal. Anything goes as long as it reminds you of what you’re working toward and excites you. You can also create a regular reminder (maybe every quarter) to review your list or sensory representation.
Remember that even these long-term and broad definitions will change over time. That’s perfectly okay and natural. The goal here is to make sure that you are moving toward the future that you currently want because that will bring you satisfaction. Only by moving through the world, doing, and trying things can you ever learn that you actually want something different. Detours are never a waste. They’re learning experiences. And they’ll definitely come in handy when you least expect it.
As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments and make requests for future posts here or via my Ko-Fi page.