Today, while checking out a feature article on the topic of “self sabotage,” I was advised by the author to “forget having the ideal [blank].” I can’t even remember what was in the blank. I was tripped up because my business tagline and mission is helping women in science live their ideal lives. A wave of doubt washes over me. I Google “ideal” to check myself before I, well, really self sabotage by making false claims about what’s possible for people. The Oxford Dictionary gives two definitions for ideal (the adjective). One seems to fit the article author’s mental model of ideal: “existing only in the imagination…not likely to become a reality.” And one seems to fit mine: “satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.”
My mind is in it now. And I mean I’m going to resolve this so I’m again fully convinced I’m peddling the right outcome. If I’m not convinced, I’ll pivot, as it’s crucial that people who need me, find me for support in living their best lives. I consider putting my question on social media but the thought of getting opinions from people who may not share my values, belief system or vision for fully empowering women in science puts my intuition on red alert. Nope, not going to do it. Instead, I get up and walk across the room while describing out loud what I mean by living your ideal life. (Pro-tip: this is a thing. By moving across the room, I’m allowing information to move from my body—my gut and heart brains—to my cerebral brain, vertically integrating my wits to offer myself some well-marinated, fully-authentic wisdom).
“When I say ‘ideal life’ (I announce to my furniture) I mean living in full alignment with one’s authentic, core values.” And then I start to espouse further about what that is, when more seasoned wisdom hits me. It’s that simple. Full stop. To add more descriptors to “the ideal” is to impose my value system on what constitutes an ideal life. And that is not for me to say for anyone but me. And, I could enter the danger zone by including variables outside of one’s control and short-change my audience’s confidence in their ability to leverage their innate (though perhaps un-developed), internal resource bank for living their ideal life. Shortest speech ever, my furniture can resume just being.
There are common obstacles to living our ideal lives and common qualities people aspire to for their ideal life (for example: well-being, success, peace of mind, freedom, abundance, fulfillment, adventure, contribution and meaning). But they are not universal.
The key to having your ideal life starts with intentionally defining your ideal by drawing on your vast, integrated wisdom on you. When we’re the author of our own ‘ideal,’ we can structure our lives to have it. When is the last time you connected with your values and took inventory of your life to assess “goodness of fit?” Which aspects of your life, if changed, would account for the most variance between what you have and what you want? (See what I did there?). When is the last time you intentionally thought about audacious goals that would blow your level of life satisfaction out of the water? If you have done this recently (good on you!), what actions have you taken to make this a reality?
I remain convinced that those of us who define our ideals, live a fully-authentic version of ourselves and believe whole-heartedly in our ability to succeed are well-positioned to live our ideal lives. And research shows that people who partner with a coach to reach their goals have a much higher probability of success than those who self-coach. Coaching provides a space to become radically clear on what is most important to you and which means are most-suitable to you to have it. Through coaching, you identify obstacles in your path and devise effective strategies to move forward. To drop into the realm of sheer possibility is invigorating in the least and powerfully life-changing at best.
If you start with the belief that your ideal life is out of reach, you’re right! But guess what else is true? If you believe your ideal life is in reach and take deliberate action to make it reality you’re well-positioned to succeed.