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3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life

3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life
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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.

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    Get yourself a designer life.

    Will you?

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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