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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 October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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