I’ve been thinking a lot lately about building the perfect life and what that actually means to me. I’ve seen my Twitter feed filled with arguments about influencers, particularly Instagram influencers, selling a life that is unrealistic or unattainable and it got me thinking, is my idea of the perfect life unattainable?
I’ve been involved in social media since the very beginning, both as a user and as my full-time job, so I know when and how to separate creative license from reality, but many people don’t. I always thought that I was pretty savvy about these types of posts, but looking at my ‘life board‘ (yes I have a pin-board with images of my dream life on it, give it a try!) I started wondering if I was aiming too high, whether people would look at my board and think I was delusional and brain washed by Insta-life.
Understanding the difference between Insta-Life and real life
I think the first thing to do, if you are worried you’ve been heavily influenced by Insta-Life, is educating yourself in how these images are made, the work that goes into them and what it actually means to be a working ‘influencer‘.
Many influencers that are known for their epic Instagram posts, put together tutorials, whether on YouTube or on their Insta Stories, all about how they create their images. For example, have a watch of this video by one of my faves, Peter McKinnon, on how he can turn a washed out image into something unbelievable.
These types of editing techniques and photoshop tricks are very common when it comes to images we see on social media. Things like views from a window, skies or even destinations can all be created with editing. I love it when content creators use their tools to create something amazing, but I do think everyone should be open about how they have created an unbelievable image if they have used things like photoshop.
For example, this image I posted on Instagram recently was edited. I replaced the sky and added a tint to make it look like a beautiful sunset, but it was actually around 10:30 am in the morning on a cloudy day.
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I made sure to say in the caption that it was edited, purely because I don’t like the idea of misleading anyone in thinking I’m some sort of photography guru. I did it though, because it made the image look better and I’m a big lover of photography and photography editing.
How do you know if your dream life is attainable?
One way I’m re-affirming whether my dream life is actually attainable, is by mapping out what I need to do to get there. This helps me figure out if I’m on the right path, where I need to make changes and whether I am even in a position to reach that goal.
More often than not, it’s not about whether you’re being realistic, it is about whether you are being proactive.
For example, if you wanted to become a gymnast, there is no reason why that is unrealistic, but if you’re not currently having gymnastic lessons and you do no exercise whatsoever, then that will never become a reality for you. You need to stop dreaming about your perfect life and start taking actionable steps to get there.
I like to think of life as a maze or labyrinth, it can be hard to get our bearings and it’s easy to go off course and take a wrong turn, but there is always a way to get to the centre and reach your prize.
One of my current favourite quotes is from Will Smith and it is something I plan to live my life by:
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I’ve always felt that being ‘realistic’ is suffocating to creativity. Think of all the amazing, life changing things that have happened, would they have happened if someone had been ‘realistic’? We wouldn’t have any of the amazing movies, books, music or even gone into space if we had been limited by realism.
What is a perfect life?
Whether you have the perfect life is all relative. You may already have the perfect life according to someone else, but you may be restless with it and wanting to make big changes.
The best way to create the idea of your perfect life is to think about what you need in order to make you happy. Put materialistic things to one side for a second, what currently makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? Making a list of things can help you pinpoint areas you need to rectify and areas you need to amplify.
Here’s a few of mine to give you an idea:
Things that make me happy
- Being outdoors
- Hoop and aerial classes
- Making videos and writing blogs
- Working from home
Things that make me unhappy
- Being stuck in a office for 8-10 hours a day
- Not having time to be creative
- Not socialising with like-minded creatives
- Being stuck in one place
- No dogs
Once you’ve got your list, then you can start to plan how to get more or less of that in your life. You can even start to link the pros and cons together, for example:
Problem: Being stuck in a office for 8-10 hours a day
Solution: Work freelance so I can work from home or choose to work in a cafe/co-working space, giving me flexibility to move around and work from where I feel most comfortable. This will also allow me to choose my own working hours and help me to give myself more room to be creative and also travel. Not to mention, working from home will also allow me to get a dog! Boom, one solution that solves multiple issues.
You can do this exercise for all of your cons and figure out how the things you love and that make you happy can feed into the solutions. This forms the core of your perfect life, it gives you an idea of what you need in order to start creating a life that makes you the happiest you can be.
Temporary happiness vs long term happiness
The final thing to keep in mind is the difference between temporary happiness and long term happiness. For example, I can look at an image or watch a video of someone lounging about on the beach drinking a cocktail and think ‘I wish I was there right now, I’d be so much happier if I was there drinking that cocktail‘, but would I want that to be life full-time?
No. I would be bored out of my mind after a week.
We all have the temporary things that make can make us happy in the present moment, but to find long-term happiness, we have to find the things that serve us on a more spiritual level and that looks after our wellbeing as well as feeding our love for life. By all means, take those exotic holidays and day trips, but think about whether that is something you want to do occasionally or full-time.
Life is filled with ups and downs, ins and outs and highs and lows, it is never straight forward, so it’s ok if your idea of a perfect life changes over time. It’s ok if you achieve something you thought would make you happy, but you realise that you don’t want it long-term. Life is about discovery, not just discovering the world, but also discovering more about yourself and it will never stop. You can be 93 and still learning something new about yourself, so keep pushing forward and pushing through barriers.
If you need to chat about your big life plans or if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, my inbox is always open! Let me know what you’re stuck on, if you’re feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed and we’ll see if we can help you to find your way.