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3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life

3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life

Blonde lady with a passion for shoes looking at part of her collection trying to decide which ones to wear

    Jake, was my trusted lieutenant. One of the smartest people I knew. He could crunch numbers like no one else can. A wizard of sorts for all practical purposes. But the one quality I respected, the most, in Jake was his attitude. He was content where he was. He took life as it came. Never overly ambitious about achieving that title or the corner office. If life gave him that, he was happy.

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    And then there is KT. Dear friend. Since childhood, he had only one dream. To be the captain of a ship. Life was all about sailing. Collecting pictures of ships. Going to movies that dealt with sea adventures. Playing with ship toys. I could go on and on. Guess what he ended up becoming? A captain. Sailing from port to port. Commanding some of the largest ships in the maritime trade. Knew what he wanted. Got what he wanted.

    Not to forget Manny. The one guy who you would love to meet again. He had the most charming personality among the people I knew. Genuine love for people. He could laugh and cry with you. His single biggest strength was his ability to relate to people. Manny was the proverbial glue in people’s lives. Manny knew he was a people person.  He could rally a team and get them moving in any direction he wanted. Not surprisingly so he now leads one of the largest corporations on Wall Street.

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    Three stories. From completely different backgrounds. Stories of individuals who knew exactly what they wanted.

    Others stand in awe of people who  know what they want. Know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Know their appetite for risk. Some call this “the designer life”. What is the big difference between people like these who have a designer life and the rest of us who are still finding our way?

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    Like Jake, there are folks who have made their peace with the present. Money, career, position, advancement all matter to these folks as well. However, you won’t find them losing their sleep on it. They will go after all these at the pace they decide. At a time and place that they feel won’t disrupt their peace and comfort. The important point here is to be at peace with the design you have chosen for your life. 

    The beauty of life is that the non-Jakes are not evil people. We are just happy enough to put our best foot forward and live life to its fullest. We live life on our terms – much like the Jakes. For those of us non-Jakes, the struggle always, is to figure out, what to do to get that fancy, designer, glitter-filled life that KT and Manny live.

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    Here are three ways how you can get your designer life like the heroes I know:

    1. Start from where you are: Simple? No. Because most often the dilemma is if it is already too late. We worry if we have missed the boat. Whether by way of age, health or wealth the biggest question is did I forever miss the opportunity by not going for it when I was 20 or when I was in optimal health, and more. The secret is, no matter how old you are or healthy, there is always a way to achieve your goal. You have to trust and put your best foot forward. My all time favorite example is the life of Chris Gardner who went from being homeless to becoming a successful entrepreneur, investor, stock broker and many other things. What a transformation! You can start from where you are. 
    2. Know what you want: KT, Manny, and Chris Gardner all knew what they wanted. Chris Gardner’s face-to-face with reality came when he spotted the red Ferrari 308 pull into the parking spot. And the rest is history. The point is, even if you don’t already know what it is you want, its okay. Get cracking. And decide to find that goal, target, purpose, objective today. It’s okay that you did not know it already. But even if you started today, there is every chance you will make it if you know what is it that you want. You are the designer of your life. Design the way you want it.
    3. Give it all you got: If you got past the first two and figured out what it is you want, it ain’t gonna happen by magic. As told by Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. True. Wanting a Ferrari is not the same as having to work for it. Wanting the CEO title is not as easy as wishing it. You have got to burn the midnight oil. And be ready to work weekends.

    Getting a designer life is a lot simpler than getting a designer shoe. Because you have very little control over who or how your shoe is designed. With life – you can design it all by yourself in the way you want it.

    Get yourself a designer life.

    Will you?

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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