What Would Ideal Sachi Do?

I haven’t had a job since May 2022, but I hope that after this time away from the workforce, I’ll be able to rejoin it with clearer purpose and greater enthusiasm. As I travel, I’m prioritizing exploration and experiences, but also focused growth, getting to know myself better, listening to my needs and my intuition, and keeping promises to myself. At 31, I’m trying hard to live my life with intention and self awareness, looking always for that feeling of harmony and alignment with my goals and values. I find that when I’m doing all of the above well, I can most easily experience my innate joyfulness.

The Happiness Recipe

What does all that mean? It all sounds well and good, but what does it have to do with day-to-day living?

I’ve had a few brief periods in my life when I felt electric. Magnetic. Euphoric. Full of a deep, resonant sense of clarity. High on life itself. It’s pretty incredible. The feeling sometimes sticks around for a few weeks. The second time it happened, I was 19, and I was curious, what produces this feeling? I took an inventory of the factors in my life that I thought were contributing to my state of mind. This turned into a list of the things that I feel are necessary and sufficient for me to feel content and fulfilled in my life. Things that I value, things that make me feel like myself. It’s evolved a bit in the last 12 years, but the core points have stayed constant. I call it The Happiness Recipe, and it’s a core theme in my adult life.

This is hanging on my bedroom wall at home.

Wake Up

Nineteen was a big year for me. I had my first experience of “waking up” from autopilot, realizing that my life was running me, rather than the other way around. I was thinking a lot that year about how to live a life that was true to myself, and how to direct myself toward the life that I most want. One of the things I came up with was making decisions as my ideal future self. When faced with a tough choice, I should ask myself, “What would Ideal Sachi do?”

Fast forward to 2020. By the time COVID came around, I was deep in another period of autopilot. I was painfully unhappy, but I continued doing all the same things, pushing hard in the same direction, though there wasn’t really a viable path forward. With a lot of reflection, I realized that I needed to make some big changes in my life. I eventually did, but I also realized that I don’t want to have to “wake up” and make a massive course correction every few years. I want to constantly live a life that’s true to my needs and my goals.

Atomic Habits

In the summer of 2020, I listened to a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. He presents a methodology for goal achievement that is based on constantly employing the habits that form the person you want to be. Clear framed the concept in a way that bridged the gap between the epiphanies I’d had at nineteen and the realities of daily practice in my adulthood. Asking myself “What would Ideal Sachi do?” is not just for tough decisions, but for how I live every day. It’s a great book, and I think it’s one I’ll keep revisiting.

I took this screenshot on my phone while I was listening to Atomic Habits and doing home improvement projects.

The Best of Me

Despite knowing exactly what’s good for me, sometimes it’s just hard to keep myself accountable. I’m not sure why, but sometimes I let things slide with myself. Whereas if it were for somebody else or for work, I’d never miss a deadline or break a commitment. It’s a thing I’d like to change. Why should everyone else but me get the best of me?

Bridget’s Coaching Program

So, for eight weeks at the end of 2022, I enlisted the help of my friend Bridget, who has a new coaching business. She took me on as a test client, to launch and further develop her program. Over the course of two months, Bridget would supply the structure and accountability mechanisms that I’d been struggling to provide for myself.

At the outset, Bridget helped me to clearly envision my ideal future self. We spent over an hour on the phone, digging deep into what Future Sachi’s life looks like. From there, she worked with me to structure my smaller daily goals, tailored for my current life stage, which will help me to grow into that future person. Bridget has also read Atomic Habits, and Clear’s methodology is part of her program structure. We talked about some of the book’s concepts, such as starting with the smallest, easiest version of a habit in order to cultivate consistency and reach bigger goals. For the period of Bridget’s program, I chose to focus on: learning Spanish, writing this blog, and making art.

Working with Bridget

With Bridget’s help, I chose specific habits to focus on in each of my goal categories, and she provided a structure of accountability for the pursuit of these goals. We had a weekly phone call to check in. Before each call, I prepared a write-up of the “wins” I’d had in each goal category, and logged my fidelity to my habits. Then we’d discuss.

I found Bridget’s support incredibly helpful. For example, before starting the program, I hadn’t published anything on this blog for 3 months. But as soon as I had laid out my intentions clearly and had Bridget checking in on me, I was publishing a post every week.

But it was more than the accountability mechanism. I found the calls really helpful because Bridget was able to provide another point of perspective. It was kind of like going to therapy. She reminded me when I was being too hard on myself, and pointed out when I was missing the forest for the trees. She encouraged me in my progress and helped me to re-frame my thoughts about the challenges and frustrations that came up.

I found it really comfortable to go through this process with Bridget. Partially because we’ve been good friends for years, so we started from a strong foundation of connection and understanding. But also because she’s just good at it. She has done a lot of reading and self-study on her own journey of personal development and has certifications and experience in at least three other teaching/coaching modalities that I know of. She’s also just a positive, strong, and encouraging presence. She’s no-nonsense but also nurturing, and it felt like that was exactly what I needed.

With Bridget in Moab, 2019.

Goal 1: Speaking Spanish

My biggest goal for my time in Latin America is one that I’ve addressed previously in this blog. I want to achieve a level of Spanish communication that could reasonably (or even charitably) be called fluency. There’s a big range of skill levels that that could indicate, but I have an idea of what I’m shooting for and how far I am from that now. My progress hasn’t been linear, and sometimes that has been really frustrating for me.

But my time working with Bridget helped me to better appreciate the value of chipping away slowly. I learned to be more accepting of the process, and reviewing my weekly wins with her helped me to see the ways that I continued to learn even when it didn’t feel like anything was happening. She encouraged me to pay attention to little moments that I wouldn’t have considered significant, but which were nice milestones to note–like the time I met a woman while treading water in the ocean in Parque Tayrona, and during our brief, all-Spanish conversation I was able to tell her a joke about sharks, and it landed! With Bridget’s help and perspective, I broke out of some limiting beliefs about my growth (e.g. The Plateau that I wrote about a few months ago), which I think gave me a lot more confidence. And that confidence in turn fed into my capacity to practice and learn more.

Spanish-speaking hiking crew in Jardín

Goal 2: Sachi So Far

This blog (or this blog, or this other blog) is a goal/idea I’ve had since I was 19, when I first traveled abroad solo, and thought I might like to work as a travel writer. At this point, I doubt that that’s my future career, but I still love both writing and traveling. During my current mini-retirement, I like the idea of simultaneously building up a body of work, a record of my travels, and a space to practice and polish my skills. But I built out the site before I left Hawaii, posted a few things in Guatemala, and then let it sit unused for a few months. I was having a hard time feeling motivated and being consistent.

Bridget reminded me to ditch my ideas about what this blog “should” be. Ideas I had about creating something for public consumption were holding me back from creating something for my personal enjoyment. And after dealing with professional burnout, I’m a little bit allergic to things that feel like obligations right now. My life is fully about following what feels right for me. So, shifting the emphasis of this project and only writing things that feel inspiring or truly interesting has made a big difference.

For me, it was also very helpful to simply have a stated goal and another person who was invested and interested in my achievement. Because I told Bridget I was going to publish every week, and she was asking me about the blog in our check-in calls, my commitment felt more real. I set a goal to work on the blog for 20 minutes every weekday, but I found that once I got going, I often spent more time engaged and interested in it. In the end, I was able to publish nine posts during Bridget’s program.

Getting down to business in Manizales

Goal 3: I Am Art

I’ve always found joy in creating. When I was 10, I thought I might grow up to be a cartoonist, drawing comics for newspapers. When I was a teenager I used to attend a fine arts summer camp. I first started making jewelry as a little kid, and as an adult, I took up metalsmithing. And I love making Halloween costumes from scratch, like my mom used to do for me and my sister when we were kids.

Through these decades of pursuing artistic outlets, I’ve found so much joy and fulfillment. More recently, I’ve realized that it’s partly because making art is my easiest access to a flow state. I.e., that feeling where you’re focused, challenged, and deriving satisfaction from your work. Making art makes me feel peaceful, content, engaged and excited. It feeds some essential part of me. I produce things I’m proud of. When I’m making art, I feel like myself. But in my life there have been long periods where I wasn’t getting enough creative sustenance. It’s been easy to write it off. Too busy with work. No time for an art project when I should be [insert less-meaningful task here].

But right now, I’ve got a whole lot of time, a whole lot of freedom, and a strong motivation to align the way I spend my time with my actual needs and values. And though I love a lot of different methods of making art, a lot of things are a little difficult to bring with me while I’m traveling. So in October, I bought a small sketchbook in an artisan market in Buenos Aires, and I began drawing (almost) every day as part of an online art challenge called Inktober. In this challenge, people all over the world make drawings in ink based on a list of daily prompts for the month of October.

Inktober is something I’ve known about and wanted to do for several years. I just never felt like I could commit and stay consistent with it. But by incorporating drawing into my daily routine, I was able to create a lot of little pieces of art that I really enjoyed and learned from. After Inktober wrapped up, I maintained my habit of daily drawings for the rest of my time in Bridget’s program. I especially enjoyed drawing animals and and travel scenes. When I found myself self-imposing pressure to create art of a certain caliber, Bridget reminded me that–as with the blogging–that’s not what it’s about. I do this for myself, and I don’t have to prove anything or produce something for public consumption. It’s enough to just enjoy the process.

I realized that this time period was the most consistent I’ve ever been with my art. And though I haven’t drawn very much in the last few weeks since the program ended, I still really love having the option to put the world on pause while I tap into my creative tank. I’ve also given drawings as gifts to some of the special people I’ve encountered in the last couple of months, and it feels good to be able to share a little part of myself in that way.

Where Things Stand

After two months of daily habits and weekly meetings, I felt really accomplished. I did a good job sticking to my intended goals. Even though there were weeks when I didn’t hit every goal metric, my progress was tangible and my notes about my weekly wins will stand as a record of what I accomplished in that time.

But even better, I have new ideas about how to move forward and new self-awareness about what was holding me back. Bridget helped me to recognize patterns that I have which aren’t serving me. For example, my tendency to place undue pressure on myself came up in every goal category. I often found myself creating imaginary standards of achievement that actually hindered my productivity. Recognizing that for the first time felt like a pretty significant breakthrough, and it’s an awareness I’ll carry with me.

As I move forward into 2023, I think I have a clearer understanding of who Future Sachi is, what she needs, what makes her tick, and what she incorporates into her routines. And as I keep practicing living her life, I know that not only will I grow into her, but, as Bridget emphasized, I already have her within me. She is me, I am she, and I feel confident that I have the power to create the life I want to live.

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Sachi 😭 just over here beaming with pride. You’re doing it girl… and how you’ve described your journey, in particular:

  • “My life is fully about following what feels right for me.” – (intentional creation)
  • ”I do this for myself, and I don’t have to prove anything or produce something for public consumption. It’s enough to just enjoy the process.” – (connection to and nurturing self, enjoying the journey)
  • “I often found myself creating imaginary standards of achievement that actually hindered my productivity. Recognizing that for the first time felt like a pretty significant breakthrough, and it’s an awareness I’ll carry with me.” – (the power of consciousness, reframing, + choice)

Amazing reflections here. As always, it is the utmost pleasure to be part
of your journey. 🌈✨ I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you this year 🌺

This was so well-said. It caused me to stop and ponder my own life because it was relatable. I’m sure it will have that effect on everyone who reads it.
I am SO PROUD AND HAPPY for you Sach.
Most of us go through our whole lives unconscious of our needs. You are already a shining example for all of us.
Love you,

Hi Sachi, it’s Aunty. Mom encouraged me to read your blog’s and I’m so glad I started to read them! There are a lot of adventure and although I say bravery… I had to really think about that word, long and hard, after reading some of your material. I realized that the admiration of your adventurous spirit and bravery comes from the lack of my ability to envision myself doing exactly what you are doing. Yes, most adults go through life not knowing, simply existing and you are 31, experiencing and pushing your limits, gaining all of that benefit! It does take us some time to step outside of our comfort zone, if we ever do, since we have surrounded ourselves with walls that we can control or have created a predictable routine in life. Certainly gives us, “older than you”people food for thought! Inspiring, excellent writing…….keep up the great blogs! ~Aunty Juslyn