Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pie in the Sky

And no, this is not going to be a discussion of pie, sorry. Although I'm headed to my aunt's house this weekend, and the Honeycrisp apples are out (if you don't know what they are or don't know why you should be impressed, go try one, the difference is no joke), so there's actually pie in my near future, and she makes a good one! Which is why I want to resume my quest to be free of sugar AFTER the weekend, but I digress...

Here's an idea: if a snapshot in your daily life could look any way you wanted it to, short of sprouting magical powers or winning 15 million dollars in the lottery, how would it look? For some reason today this popped into my head, probably because I'm feeling a tiny bit out of control of my life, as is sometimes the case. If one were to write up an analysis of one's "ideal" day, not having to worry about the confines of time, money, or logistics, what would it look like? And if one were to do that, would it help give some insight as to how to make small "real" changes in one's life to get it closer to that picture?

I figure there might be a couple of different scenarios worth exploring for me. The current daily snapshot, with current employment schedule factored in. Then the "I have enough money not to need that job and doing a different job" scenario. And then there's the "it's the weekend, or vacation, and today is whatever it wants to be" scenario. Interested? I am.

Current Employment Scenario:

Overview: I work for a county government, in Planning and Zoning. I like this subject matter well enough, and I like the people I work with. I've been here almost 10 years (with some minor gaps), and it is my intent to continue through retirement, to take full advantage of the generous pension benefits, which I am eligible for in approximately 2026 (I'll be 55, I'm now 38.) I aspire to and am confident that I will progress from my current position through one or more levels of management along the way.

Ideal Daily Snapshot: I think what I struggle most with is time (mixed with energy). If I had an endless supply of both, here's how my day would look: I'd wake up about 2.5 hours before I needed to leave the house. I'd drink a glass of water, and maybe have a bite or two of a piece of fruit. Then, I'd work out. A half hour workout of moderate intensity, enough to feel fitter, rev the metabolism, and get the energy juices flowing. It would feel good, not exhausting, because I'd be maintaining a healthy figure and fitness level, not straining to create one. Following my workout, I'd shower and dress for the day, taking the full time I actually need to get ready at a leisurely pace, although I would have chosen clothing ahead of time and laid it out, and would have packed a healthy lunch and planned a healthy breakfast in advance. Additionally, I'd really like to spend about 30 minutes on the home computer each morning, checking email, reading blogs, and writing posts, both for my personal and wedding business accounts. During this time I'd like to be eating a healthy breakfast, as well. After this I'd like to wake my son for school, allow him the 30-45 minutes he enjoys to watch a tv show, hang out with us, get dressed, and be ready to go. With a few more minutes added to that he could enjoy breakfast at home rather than having it be portable and eaten in the car.

After dropping him off at school and arriving at work, I'd like to be more focused and efficient than I sometimes am currently, without all the personal life distractions that result from never having enough time for it all. Of the 5 days a week I work and have a lunch hour, I would like 2 of my lunch hours to include walks or workouts of some sort, and 1 or 2 to include accomplishing minor errands.

After picking the boy up and returning home, I'd like to have the time to develop my rudimentary cooking skills to prepare healthy dinners, which I have planned out and shopped for ahead of time, without time pressure and a lack of energy. A family dinner together, followed by play time together. (We do already do this.) Time for a workout before it got to late would be great, too, without missing out on the play time. Following the family bedtime hour, I'd love not to be out of energy! I'd like to spend about 1 hour on the computer for wedding business stuff, and half an hour for more personal computer time. Then, I'd like to watch at least 1 hour of tv with my husband, take a warm bath, read a book for about 30 minutes, then go to bed. The piece de resistance? I'd like to get 8 or more hours of sleep. A lot of people have 6 hour bodies and are good to go, I am not one of those. I can and do short myself regularly, but by the end of the week I am a zombie.

Analysis: Money not a factor in improving this scenario. Sure, having a bigger nicer house to do it all in would be great, but it's not what I wish to improve day in and day out. Energy could be improved dramatically if I was at a healthier weight and fitness level, and got more sleep. The kicker on this one is time. Estimated number of hours in this dream day: 19 hours of awake time + 8-9 hours sleep = 27-28 hours needed in a day... Hey, I'm only like 3-4 hours short, it could be worse, right? ;)

Ideal Employment Scenario: Although I don't mind my current employment, if I had a lifelong reasonable supply of money so as not to need to count on a full size salary or retirement benefits, I'd probably ditch this career except as an interested citizen/advocate for local cases I cared about, and instead take a lot more time and energy working on my wedding planning business. There are several hours worth of things I could do on a daily basis to dramatically improve and expand this now hobby-level company, to pull in at least a part time income and make a name for myself in the business locally.

Same morning, without having to fit in the workout. Substitute having a leisurely breakfast together with the boy before school. Same amount of time to drop off at school and go to the workplace, which would now be home. The difference would be, either part time days and/or some days off. Likewise for the boy and his school. I like the idea of a 3 day a week, 4 hour a day schedule plus additional meetings and appointments as needed. Healthy lunches at home, furthering the cooking skills. Fitting in a workout and shower outdoors, before picking up the boy. More boy/activity time in the afternoon. Same evening schedule, without having to fit in the workout, or the hour of business time. This one I could totally make fit within the day, money is the missing link. On the non working days, we could return to our stay-at-home mommy lifestyle, having playdates, going to the library and other activities, etc. I miss those wonderful times!

Weekend/Vacation Scenario: Energy might be the only missing link here. If I were able to live my daily working life in one of the two above scenarios, the weekend would consist of minimal errands, some working out, a lot of family time, and some social time. And plenty of sleep. Totally doable, if the rest of the life was on track as preferred above. I'd have at least one major family outing planned, and plenty of time to play outside and relax at home built in.

Did this exercise generate any ideas for how to make my life closer to those scenarios in a realistic fashion? Yes and no. I plan to noodle that one for a bit and come back to it... Tell me if you try it and it does something for you!

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