There are no guarantees that life will turn out the way you want… but you have a better chance of it turning out how you want if you know how to design your own life.
I like the image of an architect designing a building by first laying out the blueprints. Or a writer outlining a book starting with the table of contents. The ability to create from scratch is a powerful feeling. The house emerges from a sheet of drawings. The book takes shape from the imagination of the writer.
Can you really design your own life in much the same way the architect designs a house and the writer designs a book? I don’t know if we can design every aspect of our lives because we have certain fixed and certain variable aspects.
For example, we cannot change our upbringing: the parents, siblings, education, childhood experiences, and all that went on before you came to this awareness of your ability to design your life. All that happened in the past has shaped who you are today, so you will need to start designing your life from this point forward.
And you can have the best laid plans and still have them go wrong, get off track, or encounter obstacles. So since we can’t control the past and we can’t control the future, what can we control if we want to design our own life? Well, we can make a plan today, we can work our plan each day, we can modify our plan as necessary, and we can make the best of what shows up even when it’s not what we want.
I’ve assembled some tools I think every life architect should have in their toolbox as they take on the lifetime project of designing their life. See if these work for you.
The blueprint for your life can be like the architect’s house design, the author’s table of contents, or a business plan. You set out certain goals and you map out a plan of actions on how you will get to each one of them. Maybe you start with your ideal career and strategize how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. Then you can design your personal life, intimate relationships, friendships, children, pets, home, hobbies, and whatever else fits in your plan.
After you’ve created your blueprint, and before you take action, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your thoughts and maintain the ones that will support your getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and focus on the end result.
With your plan in place and your mind set on success, you’re ready to take the actions necessary to build your life as you desire it. If you want to change careers, your first action may be to set up interviews with people in that career who you can get guidance from. The next action may be to sign up for classes that will increase your skill level necessary for the career move. And so on. Just keep following the action steps you outlined in your blueprint.
Actions need to be monitored regularly to check on your progress. Did the information interviews provide you with all you needed to know or do you need to schedule some more. Are you finding you have enough time to study for the classes you’re taking, or is it a challenge while holding a full time job? Have you taken an internship or entry level position in your new field and now it’s time to ask for a promotion? Keep monitoring your progress toward your goals so you can stay motivated. Celebrate the small successes on your way toward your bigger goals. Each success is one step closer to your ultimate life design.
Make corrections, adjust for change, re-examine your actions and your goals. As you hit obstacles, find a way around them. Make sure they’re not showing up often to tell you you’re on the wrong course. If that is the case, re-assess your goal to make sure it’s what you really want. Then establish some new actions that will get you back on the path even if it’s a different route.
All builders have a team. The architect designs the house, then the contractor steps in and hires plumbers, electricians, framers, etc. As you design your life, your team may include coaches, mentors, teachers, associates, partners, interns, contractors, and whoever else can help you achieve your goals.
As you start working your plan, review it on a regular basis, adjust for changes, and always reward yourself for your progress. With these tools in your toolbox, you’re on your way to designing your own life.
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17 thoughts on “How to Design Your Own Life”
I really like this idea of designing your life like a house or book. It strikes me that too many of us (self included!) tend to bumble forwards in life without thinking through a plan or structure — I’d never do that when writing a novel, or even a blog article!
I’m particularly glad you included #5: Repairs. I’ve found that when I do plan, I inevitably change my mind on things … sometimes life doesn’t work out how I expected, or sometimes I lose interest in a topic that I was previously interested in.
I think I’m going to sit down at the weekend and work on my life blueprint …
Ali Hale (from Alpha Student)s last blog post..Never Miss An Essay Deadline
Thanks for the article David. I really enjoyed the imagery you have used:
Once we realize we have the ability to design our own life, life then becomes an exciting adventure where anything is possible. Props to Tim Ferriss, in particular, for helping me realize this.
I particularly liked the idea of having blueprint to work to. So many people set about changing their life and have no idea what they would like it to look like. They are motivated by push factors such as “I must leave my lousy job” rather than what they actually want. Of course all the best plans must leave room for adjustments, but it is essential to have a plan to work towards, however vague it may be at the start.
Kate Saltfleets last blog post..Autumn Soup
Great post! As Kate said the idea of a blueprint is indeed very important. I also think that the maintenance tool is often overlooked. I will take these tools with me and use them to help me design the life I want. Thanks!
Brians last blog post..Feel the Force!…
I love the concept of designing my own life, always live in the now but always strive to reach your goals, and yes things may not always go as planned so it is best to be open to change, just avoid the negativity of others. Don’t just live paycheck to paycheck – set goals!
Julies last blog post..Free Online Course Materials
When I consider it I see that everything has its roots in thought. From a car to a house to a life everything begins as a thought. Thoughts are things that affect other things. Science is only just catching on.
Stephen – Balanced Existences last blog post..The Undeniable Nature of Existence
Great post mate!
I like the idea that you include maintenance, which completes the circle.
With the right mindset there’s no limit to what can be achieved…
Well stated. I loved this one.
Marc and Angel Hack Lifes last blog post..How Ignorance Can Lead to Success
When I taught time management in a college study skills class a few of my students resisted making schedules because they believed schedules restricted them. They feared that wouldn’t be able to be spontaneous and flexible.
I knew I had been successful when they finally realized that having a schedule frees you to be spontaneous and flexible without neglecting the important things you want to get done.
For this reason, the most important part of your life-design plan is #5, Repairs. Once we realize that as the creator of the plan we can make changes and adjustments, even change directions, then we are on the road to whatever our eventual success and happiness may be.
Thanks for this metaphor.
Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.s last blog post..Money DOES Make Us Happy
Hey I reckon this is some good advice – I particularly believe in the power of a simple plan, action and focus.
Seamus Anthonys last blog post..5 Great Reasons to Stop Working and Just Read Stuff Instead
I would think that one could make a blueprint-looking page that represented the items in their existence. The paper would have to be quite large, as blueprint paper is, and it would have to detail all the various components that go into one’s daily activity and long-term procedures. It would look similar to a chart of the metabolic processes of the human body.
i thought your article was very interesting and i wanted to implement it into design staff.
So i designed some kind of poster with the words you written above.
Here is the link: http://niponwar.deviantart.com/art/Design-your-life-134970367
And this is the high resolution, so you can save it and print it after: http://fc06.deviantart.com/fs23/f/2009/239/d/6/Design_your_life___HR_by_niponwar.jpg
Hope you like it and thank you for all this nice description of how to design our lives.
Can you really design your own life in much the same way the architect designs a house and the writer designs a book?
Great thread! I have been following this process to achieve goals in life for a few years now and that’s exactly how you do it. I didn’t use the term “blueprint”, but it sums it up well. I reviewed my list of goals and actions needed to reach them and created a vision board. I printed out pictures that represent my goals and pasted them on posterboard and mounted it on my wall. I review it daily to stay focused. In my spare minutes I will close my eyes and visualize the goals being reality, smell the ocean, feel and smell the money, experience it mentally first. My biggest challenge in distributing my energy over multiple goals at once. I always seem to let one slide while achieving others. Let me know what you think… http://wildcat566.wordpress.com or email me at email@example.com
well said especialy point 2
in life you have to start with what you hope for, always keep in mind that life is not fair but you can make life on your own. people believe that the past makes who we are but sometimes you have to put it in the casket & let the future be born.
Well said David. Life is about the journey not the destination. However having a clear destination certainly helps!