I have this habit of beating myself up for not achieving the “perfect day,” to which, for some reason, I feel entitled. What this self-flagellation essentially does is guarantee that tomorrow won’t be such a perfect day either.
Rather than allowing my negativity to landslide into another creative slump, I’ve come up with an outline for the “perfect day,” intentionally creating an nearly-impossible standard. In doing so, the measure of success comes in how many proactive steps you take each day, not in whether you get it all done in one miraculous, time-transcendent workday.
Below are the aspects to consider. In addressing most of these aspects daily—in even considering that these are important parts of the well-balanced life—you will make progress toward your specified creative goals.
The Physical Aspect
Experts recommend 30 minutes of cardiovascular work per day. Be creative! Watch Netflix from the treadmill. Build a backyard garden from the ground up. As long as it’s cardiovascular and it doesn’t end in counterproductive drama (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), it counts toward physical activity. Receiving a regular massage—ideally on a daily basis—does wonders for physical well being, toxin release and chemical re-balance. So do regular visits to the chiropractor. (I go to the chiropractor weekly, and it’s incredibly helpful for my chronic pain.)
The Creative Aspect
Be expressive! Whether it’s writing, drawing, painting or crafting, give it all a whirl for at least 30 minutes per day. Don’t worry about whether you’re good at the specific task you choose. The goal in this case is mental exercise. Fearlessness in trying something new will carry over into career opportunities… when it becomes a habit. Be bold! Intentionally infusing creativity into each day can break a myriad of mind-numbing cycles of monotony.
The Dietary Aspect
Okay, the following sounds tough to implement, but it does make a significant positive impact on most body types: Cut sugars out of your diet, along with processed food, alcohol and nicotine. Limit your caffeine by switching from coffee to green tea. Drink more water. Take B12 and fish oil in morning, and fish oil and chamomile at night. Take Vitamin C as often as you can. If you want to really delve down this rabbit hole, Tim Ferris has a really interesting take on nutrition and body optimization in his exceptional book, The 4-Hour Body. If you’re not ready to take such drastic measures, at least work on your psychological connection to food. Try seeing it as simply fuel for the gas tank as you replace the chemical high from the act of eating with the chemical high of physical activity and creativity.
The Intellectual Aspect
I don’t wanna sound like a grumpy old man, but the intellectual aspect works best when light-up screens are taken out of the equation. I know, I know. I love my illuminated screens. But intentionally unplug at the end of each day and replace screen time with traditional reading, language acquisition, philosophical musings, sociological study and the like. Just give your eyes 30 minutes to rest from the strain and provide new opportunities for your neural dendrites to light up like it’s Christmas. Feed your brain regularly, and it will produce a bountiful creative harvest!
The Spiritual Aspect
Spend 30 minutes daily meditating on uplifting spiritual truth. I understand we all come from different spiritual backgrounds, but my suggestion is that you try contemplating spiritual truths that would benefit a.) you the individual, b.) humanity at large and c.) the particular deity or ideal you’re following. Obsessing over how more right you are than everybody else ain’t spiritual discipline, and it’s not going to elevate anyone to enlightenment.
The Restorative Aspect
As human organisms with the goal to thrive, we have to recharge. Extroverts, give yourselves one hour per day of quiet, calm alone time. Since introverts find more restorative value in being alone, we should shoot for two hours doing something we like alone. Social media doesn’t feed anyone’s need for restoration, since it deceives lonely extroverts into thinking that they’re socializing, while hoodwinking overly stimulated introverts into thinking that they’re alone.
The Social Aspect
Remember what I said about introverts needing alone time to recharge? Well, it’s the extrovert’s time to be pampered. If you’re an extrovert, try to give yourself two good hours of quality social interaction. Ideally, this is in-person, distraction-free communication in a setting with multiple people around. Sounds fun, right? Well, we introverts need to do this too, whether we like it or not. Though it’s often mentally taxing, that social aspect can be beneficial for our brain chemistry as well. Introverts, try in-person social interaction for at least one hour per day.
Tend to those seven aspects each day, and you’ll see some pretty exciting changes in your life. That’s the “simple” formula for the perfect day toward which we all should strive.
Give it a try! Send me a tweet (@markezrastokes) once you’ve intentionally tried out one or all of these aspects of the perfect day. I’d love to celebrate with you, as these areas of life continue to be a challenge for me as well.
If you need MORE explorations on optimizing your perfect day–particularly if you’re a writer–check out my 7 Excuses Keeping You From Writing You Story (And How to Blaze Past Every One of Them!). I’m really proud of this document, which is completely FREE for my blog subscribers. Just enter your email below and I’ll send it to you!
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