What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to figure this out. Even if you are lucky enough to have already found your way to your true calling, it’s fun to imagine what our lives might be like if we were doing something different than we are right now. On a deeper level, our imagined lives can help us discover what it is that we long for, how we might infuse our lives with fun, creativity and meaning, and what’s possible if we allow ourselves to think outside the box.
Take out your journal and a pen. Quickly, without overthinking it, jot down 10 imaginary careers that sound intriguing to you. They can be absolutely anything….painter, pilot, nun, photographer, lawyer, doctor, deep sea fisherman….you name it. Once you have a list of 10, pick three to five of these imaginary careers and describe what your life would be like in each one. Focus on the aspects of each career that seem appealing to you, the parts that sound like fun. Maybe you adore solitude and contemplative time (me!), and that’s one of the reasons being a nun sounds really compelling to you. Or maybe you’ve always enjoyed doodling and drawing and playing with color, and the life of a painter calls to you. As always, flush out your imaginary career in exquisite detail. What is your average day like? Who are you with? What are you wearing? What is your overall state of busyness? How do you carry yourself? Have fun with it and really see yourself in this new role. It might be helpful to write in a first-person present format, for example, “I am a painter…..” and describe your imaginary life from there.
Once you have described three to five lives, go back and read what you wrote. Notice and underline any patterns and themes that carry through your imaginary careers. Do the same for details that really matter to you, the ones that light you up and excite you. Write these patterns/themes/details in a list format on a new page in your journal. Here are a few of the entries that showed up on my list:
Meditation and mindfulness
An appreciation for solitude/alone time
Becoming an author
Aligning meditation, mindfulness and journaling with the grounding practices of presence available to us in our everyday lives
My love of the Nordic aesthetic
Once you have your list, consider how you can work some of the details of your imaginary life into your life as it is right now. For example, I’m not going to open up a vegetarian café today, but I can let myself play around with vegetarian cuisine in my own kitchen and make myself something fabulous for lunch or dinner in the process. Brainstorm ideas for infusing your current life with fun, creativity and meaningful activities based on what is on your list. Choose one or two to try out this week.
You might also consider using your list to describe another imaginary life…..one the contains everything on the list you just made. This is a fun way of designing a career that is outside the box and uniquely your own. For example, mine might be:
“I am a meditation and journaling teacher and a writer. I write books that align meditation, mindfulness and journaling with the grounding practices of presence available to us in our everyday lives. My books have a very Nordic/hygge/cozy vibe to them. They include writings about celebrating the seasons, bread baking and cooking as a spiritual practice.”
Use this description as an inspiring vision for what is possible, as a way to see how all these different aspects of what you long for in a career can come together in an unexpected and delightful way.