Many years ago, as part of an online group, I created a written vision of my idealized life. Many of us in the group chose French names and essentially created our own French woman alter ego through this exercise. It was eye-opening and challenged each of us to clearly focus on the life we wanted to create.
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Creating a French Woman Alter Ego
Each of us took a personalized approach to the exercise and put our own spin on it but as I recall, the original idea was to write a detailed essay, in third person, about our life. They often read like a feature magazine article about a famous person, but in greater detail.
We wrote about our daily routines, clothing, style, skin care, jobs, hobbies, homes, and achievements. Some dove deeper and shared personality traits, mindset and general approach to life.
A few contained large elements of fantasy, others were an idealized expression of that person’s current reality.
It was a fascinating exercise and a few went on to achieve the life they wrote about. There is something powerful about visualizing the life you desire.
I wrote my version back in 2004 and my French girl alter ego was named Marie-Elise. The final paragraph read:
Marie-Elise has spent many years refining her style and learning to be comfortable with who she is. Now in her middle years she is totally at peace within herself. It no longer matters what *everyone else* is doing, thinking, reading, wearing, eating. She is who she is. And that is just fine with her.
Here are a couple of short snippets from other group members to help give you a sense of what might be included. These are just a small portion of each essay and I was careful to avoid anything that might give away someone’s identity.
1. Her small, tidy armoire and chest of drawers contain a pared-down wardrobe of carefully chosen clothes, accented with periodic fashion updates. She avoids trends, but will shop with great discrimination, occasionally adding the item that speaks to her of chic and style, whether she buys it at a local store, or brings it home from her many international travels. All her clothes are kept ready to wear, laundered with loving care and pressed mindfully; her well-kept, polished shoes are organized by color for quick reference in the morning.
2. B____ finds that she lives, thinks, breathes better near water. The beach provides her with the perfect place to walk and so most of the year she lives on the coast of California. She and her husband also live part-time in New York and Paris. Their daughter loves to bring home friends for school holidays or weekends. These times are filled with the sounds of youthful laughter, the scents of home cooking, the energy of exuberant playfulness. The rest of the time B______ and M______ live quietly, although they do entertain regularly and have a satisfying social life with friends on both coasts and in Europe.
3. She organizes her life in the old fashioned way: she takes time with her possessions, gently tending to each lovingly chosen pair of shoes, each carefully ironed garment. After all, she buys new clothes exceedingly rarely, and only after careful consideration of what each piece will bring to her life. Will it make her feel beautiful, confident, comfortable in her skin? Or will it just end up taking up space in her tiny closet?
4. She works hard to remain fit and trim. A day doesn’t go by without some form of exercise; whether on the treadmill, with weights, or a walk with her dog, she gives her body the opportunity to stay in a youthful condition. At 5’7″ and 135 pounds she is on the lean side of healthy and loving every minute of it! She struggled to get to that weight, but now marvels at how unreasonably simple it was once she adopted traditional French eating instead of the trendy American diets.
How to Create Your Own Alter Ego
If you’d like to try this exercise here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Create a mental picture of your alter ego. Perhaps you’ll model her on a famous person such as Audrey Hepburn or Kate Middleton. Maybe you have a role model in your life such as an aunt, friend, or acquaintance. Or you can start from scratch and design your alter ego from the ground up.
2. Give her a name. If that sounds silly consider this. When faced with a decision, temptation or challenge imagine asking yourself, “What would (insert alter ego name) do?”. That can be more helpful than, “What should I do?”.
3. Write your essay. Make it as detailed as possible. Where do you live? Describe your day from the moment you wake until you go to sleep. What do you wear? What do you eat? What sort of work and hobbies do you do? How do you interact with others in your life? What does your home look like? How do you make decisions? How do you handle finances? Take the necessary time to think through every aspect of your life and what you want it to look like.
4. Schedule time to read your finished essay often.
5. Begin living your perfect life in every way you can. You may not be living in your ideal location or have your dream job but you can certainly start your day with a perfect cup of coffee while listening to classical music if that’s part of your ideal day. Start with the small details and keep refining your life bit by bit to match your dream.
You may be wondering how close this written description should be to your real life. Should you write it about your current location or where you really want to live? Your current job or your dream job? Your current weight or after you lose 5o pounds?
That’s up to you. Or you could totally write two versions. Start with one that you can immediately start to live. Then write the version in which you are a published author living in an elegant Parisian apartment, spending a few hours a day in a café sipping espresso, smoking cigarettes and writing your next novel. Oops, did I give mine away? Maybe. Except the smoking part – ha!
If you decide to give this a try and want to share it with me I would love to read it. I’m working on a new version myself and I may very well share it with you all one of these days. It all depends on what Marie-Elise thinks of that idea.