In my post at the beginning of this week, I promised I was going to take some time during the week to blog about my Level 50, a term I took from Nerd Fitness to describe my ideal life. The idea is that you have know why you’re doing what you’re doing. What do you want your life to look like? Life is about the journey, not the destination, to be sure, but what direction is that journey taking you?

Determining where you want to go

So, where do you even start? One way to begin is to determine what about your current life you’re dissatisfied with. Or, to put it another way (because we all know contentment is an important part of happiness), in what parts of your life would you most like to see growth? If you’re setting goals for yourself, what are they working toward?

But knowing what needs to change isn’t enough — you also need to determine how it needs to change. There are lots of ways to do this, but one way is to look at the people whose lives you admire and brainstorm what it is you admire. Whether it’s friends, family members, your favorite bloggers, or even celebrities, what in their lives do you want to emulate? Are you attracted to their freedom or their security? Their simplicity of life or how much they pack into their days? The relationships they have with others or their fierce independence? Don’t assume what makes someone else happy will be the same thing that makes you happy, but also notice what you’re drawn to.

You can also look at your current life. When are you at your best? What activities bring you the most fulfillment? What relationships give you joy? What moments do you look back at and think, “Wow, life doesn’t get much better than that”?

My Level 50

To give you an example, here’s the working  draft of my level 50:

At my level 50, my health is better than it has ever been. I fuel myself with delicious, fresh, nutritious foods — I eat paleo-ish and love it. When I eat something “unhealthy,” I do so mindfully and without guilt and ENJOY the heck out of it. I have a daily yoga practice that has helped me build strength and flexibility beyond what I ever believed possible, and I move my body in other ways that I love, including lots of dancing (I’m currently learning swing aerials).

My relationships are flourishing. I have several incredible close friends who I can be completely authentic with and with whom I go on crazy adventures. I maintain close contact with my family and see them several times a year with plenty of intentional time. I am either single and thriving or with someone incredibly supportive, loving, passionate, and interesting.

I live in a place that’s small enough it doesn’t require much upkeep but is beautifully kept and lets in lots of natural light. It’s large enough to entertain friends and has either a beautiful yard or access to lovely outdoor space. There’s a well-stocked kitchen, a sun-soaked breakfast nook, a fireplace, a well-curated library, and a perfect place for group movie nights.

I work at a legal job in government that is challenging, interesting, and fast-paced, but still allows for a life outside of work. My job lights me up and allows me to use my gifts to benefit others. It also keeps me apprised of what’s going on in the world — and lets me affect it.

I’m still writing regularly. I’ve developed an unstoppable practice and have published several novels and a book of poetry. I’m in the midst of writing a novel that I fall more in love with it the more I write it, and I have an amazing critique group who helps me be the best writer I can be.

I’ve found a church that I adore and several of my wonderful friends are part of that community. I both feel spiritually nurtured and have the opportunity to nurture and serve others. My faith is growing daily inside and outside of my church community.

now what?

The great thing about your level 50 is it can change right alongside you. It’s not meant to be constricting — in fact, it’s meant to be a way for you to imagine accomplishing the kind of goals you never thought possible and living out what success means to you, not what it means to anyone else. So let yourself go wild — dream crazy dreams, and imagine what it would be like to accomplish them!

The other great thing is there’s no time constraint here. Giving yourself deadlines on smaller goals can be really helpful, but when you’re imaging your ideal life, leave it open-ended. That way, you dream bigger dreams without thinking that they’re impossible. In fact, you may find that the bigger dreams you dream, the more likely you are to actually accomplish them!

Now it’s your turn. Go physically (or digitally) write down your ideal life, right down to the little details. Let that vision fill you up with joy. Then pick one tiny thing to work on right now to get you a little bit closer. For me? I’m going to keep working on that first book. It’s a start!

If you’re feeling really brave, tell me your crazy dreams. Nothing like a little accountability — and encouragement! — to take you a long way.