One of my favorite exercises for so many situations is called “Day In My Ideal Life”: without any prepping or forethought, take a quiet moment and write down what a full day in your ideal life would look like while you focus on picturing it, beginning to end. Include any level of detail you find intriguing but don’t try too hard; if you happen to notice what you’re wearing, great, but if not, don’t sweat it. Once finished, walk away.
The next day, come back and reread it and I bet you’ll find a few surprises you didn’t see coming. The details you thought to include are telling. In my ideal work day, for example, I’m wearing a skirt and heels and in an office with other people doing work. I am not in jeans and flats, nor am I in a coffee shop or out in the field. The details you didn’t include are also telling! In all of the ideal work days I’ve described, it’s never been noted what industry I’m in, or what my team and I are actually working on. Clearly it doesn’t matter to me so much whether I’m working on software or not, directly with a customer or not, in Engineering or not.
The interesting thing about the exercise is how adaptable it is. My current living situation is most certainly not ideal – I miss my husband, I don’t have enough focused time to work, and my work day is spread across various not-ideal venues like a coffee shop, the back porch, and my car. HOWEVER, running through my ideal day right now reminded me that I do need focused time to work so it’s time to firm up my transition boundaries to make sure I get some of what I need, at least.