Thursday was the perfect day.
It all started with a great coaching call in the morning: we got a big win — the first sale. Then, I set off to work from a coffee shop and write a blog post. I wanted to transfer some thoughts onto the screen. So I went out, destination: the least logical choice in terms of working location. A coffee shop I’d never been to, and I didn’t even know if it had WiFi. But it felt more adventurous. They did have WiFi, and I managed to write quickly and easily. So I closed my laptop satisfied, and looked outside. That’s when she sat down at the table next to mine. I’m not rude; I had to say hello. She replied by inviting me to share an ice cream. I obliged. We ended up having a two-hour (really vulnerable) conversation about moving through life, dealing with expectations, and the joys of traveling. She showed me videos of her town and told me her story. We clicked. That’s when we ended up going to a Chanel show. Wow. So inspiring.
The show was beautiful: a whirlwind of colours that inspired me and made me think about my future creations. After a few hours later, we were holding hands when we parted ways. I went home, worked on a group coaching programme I’m excited about, I studied poker and played a game, and cooked dinner.
I felt like I was expected to reach out and meet with the girl again in the evening. Seal the deal. But all I felt like was wrapping up the day. So I listened to that and went to bed.
After all, I just had the perfect day.
The recipe to a perfect day
This year, I had more serendipitously perfect days than on any other year: days full of life, taking action, feeling alive, enjoying what’s around me while also getting a TON done.
Here’s what I learned: you can’t engineer the perfect day.It’s when you let go of over-planning that things can happen for you.
When you plan every second, things can only go your way or go wrong. Plus, you become unable to see any opportunity popping up around you because you’re only looking for one specific scenario. It’s like putting on blinkers.
As I shared in my book, Invest Your Time, structure should allow you to be unstructured, not create a prison of your own making in the pursuit of freedom. That’s a life-oxymoron.
A few years ago, I went to a 2-day startup event inside an old warehouse in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I wasn’t supposed to be there: my weeks were so structured that every weekend looked the same, and I knew precisely what I was going to do when. Until that particular weekend, things didn’t go as planned: my girlfriend-at-the-time was out of town, and going to a weekend-long event on my own felt uncomfortable. So I went ahead and signed up. That’s when I met four of the most influential people that helped me shape my life: one has become a very close friend, and the other three have helped my business and personal development.
Had I followed the plan instead of taking two days off, my development would have slowed down or maybe never happened. I would have hustled on an idea for the next 48 hours, instead of doing something radically impactful on my trajectory.
The person planning hasn’t got the results that you want.
Next time you plan every single minute and detail, remember: the person creating the structure hasn’t got the results yet. The chances they might be wrong are pretty high. It’s like giving a massive ball-and-chain to your future self, on the way to becoming and achieving something new.
Planning not to plan is still a plan
When you plan to take time off and decide what you will do way in advance, you are still planning. You are planning not to plan (or more accurately, not to work). That is just another rigid structure that leaves no room to see or catch an opportunity and to behave like the different person who gets different results. Instead, learn to let go of control from time to time, and dance with whatever’s happening around you.
Talk to that speaker at a business event (even when your brain reminds you that it’s nearly your bedtime).
Enjoy the taste of that Sumatra coffee (even when the voice in your head tells you that you’re on a made-up deadline).
Learn to play with the present, and opportunity will open up around you.
This attitude will turn you into a magnetic and well-rounded person, meaning you will attract even better conversations and experiences.
Structure should serve you, not vice versa
Should you ever plan? Of course. Your present reality was created in the past: we are the compound result of a sequence of choices. The subtle difference, though, is to plan for what matters only. Want to write a book? Know what milestones you need to hit. Training for a marathon? Set a goal of weekly runs. Growing your business? Create a don’t-break-the-chain streak around one action that will raise customer awareness. Structure allows you to track progress and show up for what matters. It’s like sitting on a solid gold throne that supports you and your actions.
But when you engineer what time you eat, to the exact minutes of meditation you will have to hit by 11 am, all the way to working from the same spot every day, you leave no space for things to happen.
Structure takes over every aspect of your day, removing play, and most importantly, eliminating opportunity. It’s like sitting inside an iron cage that restricts you and your actions.
The recipe for creating the perfect day is letting go of the small things.
This article was originally published on Medium.
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