What does your perfect life look like? Do you even know?

Here’s something I learnt this year: you need to have a very well defined goal if you are ever going to achieve it. It sounds trite, but it’s true. Neuroscience says you need to get into the nitty gritty of the specifics, so you can visualise the goal, and fool the brain into thinking that it’s already a reality. After that, the chips fall into place.

We actually aren’t too bad about setting short term goals. Achieve a specific weight, xxx, xxx. But we are surprisingly bad about setting well defined long term goals. “Retire comfortably” is hardly well defined, and doesn’t even hint about what that means for you. [add more examples].

This lack of clarity is problematic: if we don’t know what we are working towards, we can’t motivate ourselves to get there, we can’t chart the path to the destination, and we don’t know how far away we are. That last point is maybe the most damaging, because often times we would find that a goal we are targetting for ten or fifteen years away is actually available to us already. We fool ourselves into thinking most of our goals require money, where in fact most of our goals simply require a system, a priority or attitude change.

That’s how manifestation works (step one is to have a very clear vision of your goal), and I will talk about that too at some point. But for now, let’s talk just about “goal definition”, and specifically how it applies to our “ideal life” state. What is it that we really want, long term? What is it that we are really working towards? When I ask people this question, they often have a very quick, definite answer. “I want $x in the bank”, “I want happy children and a solid marriage” or “I want to be able to xxx every day”. But those are not well defined goals. Those are pipe dreams, with no action plan. We should do better.

You need to call your shot, so that you are clear about what you are working towards.

This sentiment is well expressed by Kevin Dahlstrom, who is very vocal about his “end state life” list. It’s a list of x bullet points, outlining what he considers to be his “perfect life”. The list is actually a work of art, and he’s clearly he’s put a lot of thought into it. It covers everything from work, family, relationships, health, travel, home, community service, finances, mental health, parenting etc.

First of all, let’s get the “$x in bank” out of the way. That’s not smart goal, because on its own it doesn’t create any real motivation. TIf there is no tangible reason behind the $x goal, it’s going to be all that much more difficult to achieve. You are less likely to succeed at “saving $10,000”, than “saving $10,000 so I can go on holiday to Paris next year”.

How to write your own list

First you need to know exactly what your ideal end state life looks like. This isn’t written in stone, but it should be applicable to you today. As Kevin says, you need to call your shot clearly by defining the goal. If you’ve ever read any self-help or manifestation books, or listened to podcasts by neuroscientists like Tara Swart, you’ll know that having a clearly defined goal is the most important step to living a fulfilled life.

Kevin says we should start with these 3 questions:

  • WHAT would you do (and avoid doing)?
  • WHO would you be around?
  • WHERE would you be?

My piece of advice is this: since you are starting to create your ideal life, and are going to be working hard towards it, make sure you really resonate with the destination. Your ideal end state life should be your ideal life, not someone else’s. This isn’t a competition, or a race. It would be most unfortunate to chase a dream, only to discover that nothing about it is fulfilling or meaningful, and it brings you little joy. That’s why you need to separate the “nice to haves” from the “must haves” on your goal list. What’s non negotiable? (Hint: money probably isn’t nearly as important as you may think on this list, since money is only a means to an end. It’s waht you do with that money that matters. As Kevin says, chase the lifestyle, not the wealth.)

As he says, you need to call your shot by clearly defining the goal. It’s a surprisingly insightful exercise, and it makes you question what you always believed to be true about your end goals.

Separate the “nice to haves” from the “must haves”. Doing so will help you avoid what kevin calls “short term impulses”, and will help you focus on what you really want.

Noticeably, it’s pointless to put a specific amount of money on the list, as money itself is meaningless. It’s what you do with it that matters. Kevins last bullet point is to have financial assets to make all the bullet points above possible. That’s a money-chasing goal that makes sense, and your re chasing the lifestyle, not the explicit wealth.

Kevin’s list is a work of art. Clearly he’s put a lot of thought into it. It covers everything from work, family, relationships, health, travel, home, community service, finances, mental health, parenting etc. He said it’s fine if you steal it to use as a foundation for yours, so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I also read the xx comments on his Twitter posts, and added in some recommendations by others. Then I changed the specifics to suit my own goals, and edited the rest as necessary. I encourage you to give this a go. (Bonus: hopefully you’ll be able to check off a lot of the items already. That gives you perspective and clarity about how well you are doing, even on the days that it doesn’t feel that way.)

I created a vision board around mine (and checked off the “creative project” item :-)) It’s on my desk, and attached as an image to this post.

The list needs regular review, to see the pace of accomplishment, and to double check that all the goals still make sense. Life evolves, and goals evolve too. It’s ok to no longer want what you always thought you did.

I created a vision board around mine (and checked off the “creative project” item :-)) It’s on my desk, and attached as an image to this post.

  • Challenging, intellectually stimulating work done on my terms
  • Afternoons free to read, write and think
  • At least 1 active creative/personal project
  • Control my schedule
  • Lots of sunshine and time outside (but in the shade!)
  • Ability to live anywhere
    Ability to work anywhere
    Small, beautiful designed home with a view
    Always available for family
    Lots of adventures and projects with the kids
    Regular 1-on-1 time with my partner
    Give back and help others grow
    Steadily grow in my self-awareness
    Invest in deep intimate relationships with 4-6 friends
    “Positive vibes only” – zero toxic people in my inner circle
    Travel 2-3 times a year, some with friends some with family
    Be “6 hour medium paced, non-flat, hike fit”
    Eat 80% clean diet
    Financial assets that fund this lifestyle indefinitely

Image by Peter Dargatz from Pixabay

The “end state” concept reminds me of the fisherman and businessman story, which you have probably already heard: a businessman hires a fisherman to take him out on a lake to fish. During the fishing trip, the businessman offers seemingly helpful advice to the fisherman about how he could streamline his fishing business, hire more people, expand to multiple venues and generate more revenue. “To what end?” the fisherman asks. “So that you can collect your money, and then relax and spend all your time fishing!” the businessman answers. “But that’s what I do already” says the fisherman.

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Join me in my musings and adventures as I live and love my second (and best!) chapter, together with my 2 kids and beloved dog! ❤️


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