Do you know the anatomy of your “ideal day”?

Alexis Haselberger
4 min readMay 20, 2024

Every year on my birthday I take the day off.

It’s a luxury, I know. And it’s also something I relish.

It’s a little (well actually, quite big) birthday gift that I give to myself. (And if you’re feeling like “I wish, but I could never”, read on!)

In fact, when I was younger, I used to tell myself that if I ever had my own company, I’d make sure everyone had their birthday off. Because, really, who wants to work on their birthday?!

(Side note: For all you HR managers, CEOs and execs on here, I think this is an EXCELLENT benefit that not enough companies are implementing. How awesome would all of your employees feel knowing that they didn’t have to work on their birthdays, and that they didn’t have a take a vacation day to make it happen? And if you do this, make sure that you also give people their “birthday observed”. So, if the birthday falls on a Sunday, make sure that they get the following Monday off, etc. Seriously, they’ll love you!)

In any case, I take my birthday off, and I try to spend it in the most ideal way for me.

A few months ago, on my birthday, I decided to codify what the elements of an ideal day are for me.

“What makes that birthday day so special?”, I thought.

And then that thought was quickly followed up with:

“Perhaps, I could even figure out how to get more of this “ideal day” stuff into my “everyday” days so that I could get that special birthday-day feeling more often.

Now, your ideal day is very likely quite different than mine. But I want to share with you the elements of mine, so that if you decide to give this thought experiment a try you might have a little inspiration:

  • Sleeping until my body wakes naturally
  • Staying in bed until I feel like rising
  • Moving my body, a long walk
  • Sitting at Ocean Beach, or on a bench in Golden Gate Park for a good long stretch
  • Solitude in the first half of the day and friends/family in the evening
  • A daytime cocktail or 2 (never more)
  • “Making” for a few hours (pottery, crochet)
  • Almost no phone (only using it when I need to coordinate, but no “screen time”, no scrolling)
  • Dinner with my family that I didn’t have to think about
  • No obligations of any kind.
  • Buying myself a couple of small luxuries (i.e. not denying myself and not looking at the price of a $7 piece of babka); this might mean, fancy coffee, a pastry and a book.

Now, can I do all of that every day? No. Can I do most of it every day? No. Can I do some of it on more days? Actually, yes! Here’s the thing: Only when you know what you want, can you start to make the moves to create it. So, no, I can’t do this every day, but I could do more of this on more days. I can get closer to my ideal, because I understand what my ideal looks like. I’ve broken it down into it’s component parts.

Look, there’s stuff I’m definitely not going to do every day because it wouldn’t be good for me (see: “a daytime cocktail or two”)

And there’s stuff I can’t do every day because I have a big life with lots of responsibilities, just like you (see: “no obligations of any kind”)

But you know what I can do on more days?

  • Limit by phone usage/scrolling
  • Spend time “making”
  • Move my body
  • Heck, I could probably even indulge in a “small luxury” a couple of times a month without consequence!

The point is, I can try to integrate more of these activities into my months, my weeks, my days. And because I know these things all make me feel good, getting more of them into my life stands to ensure I feel even better.

So here’s my challenge to you, even if you’re not in a position to take your birthday off right now:

  1. Imagine you had an ideal day to yourself.
  2. What would you do?
  3. What elements would make it ideal?
  4. And then ask yourself: Is there any element of this that I can implement, right now into my normal, everyday life, to make how I feel about my time feel just a little bit better?

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Originally published at https://www.alexishaselberger.com on May 20, 2024.

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