According to a 2013 Harris Poll, only 1/3 of Americans are very happy. The problem isn’t only in America. Millions of people are frustrated with their lives and desperately long to make some big changes.

The good news is you really can design a life you love. No matter who you are, or where you’re from, it’s possible to design a life where you spend your time doing more of what you love and less of the unimportant junk. It takes a lot of work, but you really can take steps every day to live a fulfilling life on your terms.

Here are some ways to live a life you love.

1. Search for what lights you up

Discovering your passion can take a while, and it involves a lot of self-discovery, effort, and experimenting, but the journey is well worth it. When you find and do what lights you up, life is so much more fulfilling. Here is a helpful free workbook to help you discover your passion. If seeking your passion seems overwhelming, remember that it is often an ongoing process. You don’t have to quit your job, leave your family, and move to a deserted island to find your passion. Start looking for things you enjoy, no matter how small they seem. Pay attention to what fills you with energy and what leaves you feeling drained. Continue to take frequent, small steps forward to learn more about who you are and what excites you.

2. Be intentional with your time

One daily habit I use that has really helped me to spend my days doing what I love is writing out my schedule for the day. It doesn’t have to be exact, but having a tentative plan for my day helps me maximize my hours and minimize time spent on unimportant junk. In order to live a life you love, it’s important to intentionally set aside time to do what you love, and to design your days so you minimize time wasted on things you don’t enjoy. It’s very easy to get stuck in the daily grind, following a similar routine day after day and feeling like you don’t have time to do what you really want to do. Start setting aside time to do things you enjoy, even if it’s just a small amount of time to start.

3. Choose awesome friends

The people you hang out with influence your life in huge ways. They affect your habits, how big you set your goals, and what you believe is possible. By choosing a circle of amazing, inspiring friends, and by being a great friend to others, your life will be much more enjoyable. If there is something you want to accomplish, start hanging out with people who are already doing what you aspire to do. There are clubs for all kinds of interest groups, and if you can’t find one near you, join one online, or consider starting a group yourself.

4. Set big goals

As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Do you set goals? If so, how big are they? I challenge you to set goals that are out of your comfort zone, so you can continually grow. Set your goals as specifically as possible, write them down, and create an action plan so you are regularly taking small steps toward your giant goals.

5. Discover and maximize your strengths

Many people don’t have a clear understanding of what their strengths are, or how to best maximize their strengths. One book that has greatly helped me discover my strengths and learn how to best utilize them is Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The book explains that functioning in your strengths zone affects multiple areas of your life, stating, “a strengths-based approach improves your confidence, direction, hope and kindness toward others.” Rather than leaving your natural strengths untapped, I highly encourage you to read this book and develop your strengths.

It takes self-discovery and massive intentional action, but it’s definitely possible to design a life you love. The steps above will help you start closing the gap between your current life and the life you dream of living.

Featured photo credit: Capture the Uncapturable/Smiling portrait via

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