The Ideal Life Exercise

In my never-ending effort to find contentment, I discovered Marie Kondo. When I read her book, I felt like I knew her: we shared a strange passion for tidiness and discarding things.

I have always loved a good decluttering. I love helping people pack for trips. I get super excited about helping people get packed for a move. I personally love changing apartments because it means I get to pare down again.

I love the sterile feel after removing stuff that doesn’t serve any purpose anymore. I love how, for some time afterwards, I can return to that space and find it newly livable and loveable.

What I enjoy about the KonMari Method is the emphasis on surrounding ourselves with the things that bring us joy. What is fascinating and exciting about this process is that it doesn’t begin with decluttering. It begins by imagining.

The KonMari Method has you imagine your ideal life before you start digging into the decluttering. It would be so very easy, for someone who is overwhelmed with the stuff of life, to simply skip this step.

I find this step so exciting that I actually do it every single day.

I have, in addition to the sixty-some-odd virtues that I seek to live by, defined nineteen sectors which I believe to comprise the essence of my Ideal Life. I defined these sectors for myself, for my specific situation after many hours spent imagining what my ideal life would look like while I changed diapers (Not Ideal), cooked half heartedly (Not Ideal) and sat in a park bench while my scalawags crawled around in the dirt (Ideal).

I don’t pretend that these sectors will necessarily speak to anyone else, but I am pretty confident that any progress in these areas will not be anyone’s undoing.

Every day, I take five minutes in the morning to ask myself three questions about each sector: What is working? What isn’t working? What do I need to do?

There is one of the nineteen that I deem important enough to have in the rotation each week. All in all, over the course of three weeks, I take five minutes to check my progress towards my Ideal Life. Here is a break down of my three week Ideal Life Exercise.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

  1. Contentment
  2. Work
  3. Schedule & Family Planning
  4. Parenting
  5. Clean House
  6. Body Positivity & Health
  7. Spiritual Life
  1. Sex Life
  2. Gravitas
  3. Wise Decisions
  4. Personal Style
  5. Habits and Routines
  6. Relationships
  7. Spiritual Life
  1. Music
  2. Marriage
  3. Commitments
  4. Environment & Ecology
  5. Mental Health
  6. Craft & Creativity
  7. Spiritual Life

Keep in mind, this exercise should rarely take more than five minutes each day. unless I want it to. I am asking three questions. Some of the themes require a small action, like for example, on the Environment and Ecology day, I water all of my orchids. It’s a small thing, but it means that every three weeks I know that my orchids will get watered. On the Schedule and Family Planning day, I make our meal plan for the next month (this takes longer than I would like, but once it is done it’s done!). On Clean House day I clean all the mirrors in the apartment and change all the sheets, whether they need them or not.

I have been doing it for several years. It has helped me immensely to form habits positive habits and gently nudge me towards the life that I want to live.

This year, I even added a little catch phrase to each of the themes. For example, my catch phrase for my Sex Life this year is, “Half the Magic is Me” (TMI?). Or for Commitments this year, it is “Stay Close to Anything that Makes you Feel Alive.” For Mental Health this year it is, “If You Get Tired, Learn to Rest, Not Quit.” This little catch phrase pushes me just a little further towards what I want to see in my Ideal Life.

If you had to divide your life into segments, what would yours be? What is working? What isn’t working? What can you do right now to make it better?

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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