Today’s Ideal Life

The movie nights I’ve been having lately are the result of some thinking I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing a lot of long-term planning, which starts with thinking about what your ideal life looks like. After all, if you don’t know exactly what you want, you can’t make plans for getting it. But there’s a downside to spending a lot of time imagining some ideal future. It tends to make you unhappy in the present, especially when that future is a long way down the road and depends on things that aren’t entirely in your control. There’s a really fine line to walk. You tend not to grow when you’re comfortable and content, but it’s also bad to be unhappy in the present because that’s where you live. You need to find happiness where you are while you aim for something even better.

I decided to do some of the same exercises, but about the present. What would my ideal life look like in my present circumstances — in this home, with the career and income I currently have? And what could I do to get that ideal life now? In doing that thinking, I realized that I’ve inherited my grandmother’s tendency to “save it for good.” In her case, it was saving nice things like the good dishes for special occasions. In my case, it’s a weird manifestation of my perfectionist streak in which I tend to avoid things I enjoy unless the circumstances can be ideal. I’ve nearly let gifts of things like food or bath products go bad because I waited for the ideal time to use them. I don’t watch movies I’ve wanted to see or that I want to rewatch or read books I’ve anticipated until I hit some magical combination of mood, weather, timing and occasion, which means it never happens. I’ve got a ton of spa-type items, like massagers, foot tub, facial sauna, and various products that I never get around to using because I save them for some idealized spa day that never happens.

So I’ve started making a point to do the things I like to do without having the ideal circumstances. If those circumstances come up, I can always do it again. Thus, the regular habit of movie nights. I do like to fit movies to my mood and often the season or weather, but if I want to watch something, I watch it without getting too caught up in a sense of the ideal. I still try to make a special occasion out of it, with candles (both electric and real) to provide some mood lighting so I can turn the lights out and carefully chosen snacks. I’m also trying to use the spa stuff as part of regular life. The facial sauna has come in handy when my sinuses were blocked. It’s starting to get warm enough that I can take the foot spa tub out to the patio. I can do a thing or two that feels good without having to turn it into a fancy spa day — or I can do a fancy spa day.

The other thing I need to do is finish getting my house organized and then maybe take a look at my decor. I’ve been in a holding pattern for so long in which I was hoping to buy a new house and move but couldn’t, so I may be here a year or two longer. I don’t want to buy all new furniture, but I can fix things up with what I have. I really want to get my office back to where it’s pleasant to work in because that will allow me to have better work/life balance if I generally leave my computer there. I need to be better about working during working hours and then switching it off, especially when it comes to things like social media or the impulse to do research every time a thought strikes me. Having a good office that I go to for work has been a big part of my visualization of my ideal life, and I can do that where I am, to some extent (though maybe not with the secret recording studio behind the bookcase door).

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