“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Steve Jobs (Co-Founder, Apple Inc.)
“Never settle. Fight for the life, the career, the dreams, the love that you deserve.”
Mandy Hale (Author, I’ve Never Been to Vegas, But My Luggage Has)
“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.”
Winston Churchill (Former U.K. Prime Minister)
I was stuck and clueless.
After 23 years of school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
The best description I could muster for my future was “something else.”
My entire career had been geared towards either working with patients as a clinician or doing cancer research as a professor.
As my last few years of graduate school unfolded, I realized neither option was a good fit for me.
All of the residents and young medical doctors I knew worked 80-hour weeks, running circles in the hospital with cheap cups of coffee attached to their lips.
Likewise, all the postdocs and assistant professors I knew lived in 10-foot by 10-foot prison cells called labs, repeating experiments and writing grant proposals that failed to get funded ~93% of the time.
The worst part was that everyone was unhappy.
My environment had become very toxic.
I needed to find a new name for my future.
The first question I asked was, “What am I qualified to do?”
I made a list of the skills I acquired in the past, and skills I was currently using.
Next, I tried to define a future that was in line with my qualifications.
Here’s what I came up with—postdoc, professor, or clinician.
These positions were exactly what I was trying to break free from.
But I kept coming back to them over and over.
I couldn’t escape.
The problem was I was trying to work forward.
I was trying to use the things I had done in the past and the things I was currently doing to create a new future for myself.
What I needed to do was name my future first and adjust what I was doing to get there.
Instead of focusing on my qualifications, I needed to focus on my aspirations and work backwards to align my qualifications.
I need to create a perfect day—the lifestyle that my future self would have —and then work backwards to get there.
Once I did this, everything changed.
I started using my perfect day as a filter for all the decisions I made until I finally achieved the lifestyle I wanted.
Why You Need To Raise Your Expectations And Never Settle
The Pygmalion effect is a phenomenon where the greater the expectation placed upon a person, the better he or she performs. In 1968, Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson performed experiments where they gave every student in a single California elementary school a disguised IQ test without disclosing the scores to the school’s teachers.
The teachers were told that some of their students (about 20% of the school chosen at random) could be expected to be “spurters” that year, doing better than expected in comparison to their classmates.
In reality, these spurters had the same or lower IQs than the other students.
The spurters’ names were made known to the teachers.
At the end of the study, every student was again tested with the same IQ test.
The spurters showed large gains compared to everyone else, even though their initial IQ scores were the same or lower.
The experimenters concluded that merely increasing expectations can dramatically enhance achievement.
How To Create Your Perfect Day
The reason you’re stuck and miserable in life is not because others are holding you back.
It’s not because you were born with an unfair disadvantage either.
The real reason you feel trapped is because your expectations are too low.
You’ve settled and stopped creating new futures for yourself.
The only way to get unstuck again is to unsettle.
You need to raise the expectations for your life by creating a bold vision for your future.
The key is to create this future with no regard to where you are presently.
It’s impossible to break free into a radically improved life by trickling forward.
Small tweaks to your daily schedule will not lead you to the life you’ve always imagined.
Instead, you need to step outside of yourself and design a perfect day based on your future self, not your current self.
1. Ignore other people’s expectations for your life.
The single biggest obstacle keeping you from living the life you’ve always wanted is other people’s expectations.
You might not think these expectations affect you, but they do.
The first step to raising your expectations of your own life is letting go of other people’s expectations.
What other people want for you and your life does not matter.
You must be ruthless about this.
Let go of your feelings of guilt and obligation, even those directed towards friends and family members.
Only then will you be in a position to set your own expectations for your life.
2. Step outside of yourself to create new expectations.
Have you ever thought about what you could do if you really decided to?
Not what skills, education, or talents you have or can achieve, but what is really possible for you.
It may not happen right away, or without a lot of work, but everything is certainly within your ultimate grasp.
There are two beliefs you should live your life by…
First, you can do anything you want in this life.
Human beings have sent people to the moon, eradicated deadly diseases, and connected the world with the Internet.
Anything is possible.
Second, life really is a journey, not a destination.
Human beings are 5% matter and 95% constant will, so to speak.
Constant will, or constant desire, by definition, is never satisfied.
No matter what you succeed in doing, you will want to succeed at doing something else afterwards.
If you don’t, you’ll retire and slowly die.
Given these two beliefs, that anything is possible and life is a journey, the best course of action is to create a massive vision for your future and work as long as it takes to fulfill it.
By doing this, you will raise the bar on your life and, by raising the bar, you will raise the expectations for your life.
You must believe that big things are possible for your life. You must expect it. Only then will you be able to rise to meet these expectations.
The key is to raise your expectations by stepping outside of yourself.
Don’t look at your current position in life and your current reality and try to mold it into a better you and a better future.
Instead, imagine yourself as a new person. Create a new, future persona for yourself.
Give this persona a name and design your future based on what’s possible for this person, not for your current self.
3. Design your perfect day and make decisions based on it.
Your future, your ultimate endpoint, is simply a list of actions that you want to wake up and do on a daily basis.
Together, these actions make up your perfect day.
First, you must create a wish list of all the daily actions you love doing.
Do you love to travel? Do you love to write, read, hike, run, create, and connect?
How exactly do you love doing these actions? How much time do you want to spend each day doing these actions?
What actions does your future persona love doing?
Make a giant list without discounting anything as impossible.
Next, map out all the actions on your list onto a perfect day calendar like the one below.
Don’t worry about making the actions overly specific and don’t obsess about making your perfect day rigid.
The goal is to create a filter for your life, not a cage.
For example, you might travel on some days or have unexpected events to attend to on other days.
You don’t have to account for every possibility in your perfect day.
The key is to simply create an ideal for you to compare your current life against—to define your ideal future position so you can work backwards to connect it to your current position.
Here are some perfect day examples from last season’s Escape Plan members…
Again, your perfect day is meant to serve as a filter through which you can make all major life decisions against.
When considering a job, you’ll ask, “How will this affect my perfect day, or not?”
When considering a relationship, you’ll ask, “Will this relationship bring me closer to my perfect day, or not?”
By building your perfect day, you can gain an exceptional amount of clarity over your life. Tossing aside other people’s expectations for your life and raising your own expectations for your future will put you on a path for increased happiness and success. Remember to design your perfect day based on your ideal life. Step outside of yourself and craft a day that a new, improved, and different you would live. Don’t limit yourself by simply tweaking your current reality. Instead, map out a bold vision for future and use it as a filter for all the major decisions in your life.
To learn how to design and attain your perfect day in detail, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.