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Last Updated on June 16, 2020

5 Steps to Designing Your Life Wisely

5 Steps to Designing Your Life Wisely

Are you consciously designing your life? Do you really understand what that means and how to do it?

This matters because, in a time when online marketers are pitching their services or products, promising that they’ll give you the time and financial freedom you need to create your “life by design,” it is important for you to have an understanding of what designing your life actually looks like, and how to do it effectively.

The problem is that, while it sounds great in theory, most people don’t understand what it means to create a life by design, and they do not have the first clue where to start to make that happen.

For that reason, I’m going to share with you 5 steps for designing your life in a way that is both sustainable and wise.

Step 1: Get Clear on What You Want

At the core of designing your life is the question of what you actually want and what will help you to wake up excited to live every day. In order to achieve this, you have to get clear on exactly what you want.

It seems like common sense, right? Well, common sense isn’t always common practice.

We live in a society where people are overwhelmed with the inputs, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions of others. Not to mention, the environments we are routinely in impact our values, beliefs, and desires on a deep level.

Because of that, it becomes very easy to lose touch with who we are and what we want in life among all the noise.

That’s why seeking clarity is so important.

Clarity is foundational to designing the life you desire to live because without it, the desires and expectations that everyone else has for your life will take over.

In order to design your life, you have to break free from the stories of your past that have told you who you are and what you should want. The only effective way to do that is by seeking clarity.

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I always advise my clients to first get crystal clear on who they are and/or who they’d like to be. Then, out of that truth, determine what it is that you desire most in your life.

Step 2: Create a Plan

Once you’ve gotten clarity on exactly what you want in your life, the real “design” work comes when you create a plan to achieve those desires.

If you’re not sure how what a good plan may include, this article is a good place to start.

Think about your life like a beautiful work of architecture.

A bunch of builders didn’t just walk out there one day and start throwing things together in hopes that something nice would turn out.

No, they did the tedious work of mapping out every single detail of that structure, and they did it long before they ever even broke ground on building it.

Your life is much like that. One of the biggest reasons people never get to live the lives they desire is because they are unwilling to do the necessary work of creating a plan to get there.

Nothing great in life is accomplished without a rock solid plan.

Yes, hard work, perseverance, and belief are all essential parts of you effectively creating and living the life you desire, but all of those are for naught if there isn’t a plan in place for designing your life.

Be like the architect and take the time to create the plan before you start, metaphorically, breaking ground, swinging hammers, and constructing anything of significance in your life.

Otherwise, you may find that the structure you’ve built isn’t the one you had hoped for.

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Step 3: Be Flexible and Open-minded

When it comes to designing your life, you must have a plan — we have already established that.

However, even though there is a plan in place, those who live the most fulfilled and joyful lives are those who are flexible and open-minded to change and new opportunities.[1]

One of the downsides to planning is that, because you invest so much time, energy, and effort into creating it, you can get rigid about following it to a T.

The problem is that life is always evolving and changing, and it is that fluid nature of life that brings uncertainty and adventure into the picture.

Therefore, the plans you make today may no longer be relevant tomorrow.

You may have plans of going back to school to further your education, but an opportunity to step into entrepreneurship may come available.

Accomplishing some big goal may be in your plans, but a bigger goal may present itself, or the original goal may no longer be of interest to you.

In both of those scenarios, being dogmatic about carrying out the original plan may be a detriment to future opportunities.

The main point in all of this is that when it comes to designing your life, you absolutely want to have a plan in place, but you must also keep an open heart and open mind.

That is where the adventure in life lies.

Step 4: Say “No” More Often

If you take away nothing else from this article, this may be the one piece of wisdom you want to hold on to.

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We live in a society where “busy” is celebrated. The problem is, when busy becomes your default way of living, the things you care most about have a way of getting buried under other stuff.

That’s why the subtle art of learning to say no more often is necessary if you want to start designing your life.

One truth about life is that we only get so much of it. Another truth is, we don’t know how much we get. And one last truth is that you can’t do two things at once — at least not effectively.

If you add all of those together, that means with the unknown, limited time you have, you’re either designing your life, or you are falling victim to what Brendon Burchard calls “other people’s agendas.”

We live in a culture where “no” has a negative connotation. Because of that, most people grow up lacking the ability to effectively take a stand for their time and confidently say no to something.

Whether it’s due to a fear of upsetting someone or letting someone down, or the dreaded fear of missing out (FOMO), people just aren’t great at saying no.

However, if you truly want to design your life as you desire for it to be, it’s imperative that you take back control of your time and agenda.

The best way to do that is to develop the skill of saying no more often.

Step 5: Understand That Failure Is Part of the Process

There it is, the dreaded “F” word — failure.

Most people live in fear of failure, and that fear stifles their ability to go after the true goals, dreams, and aspirations. However, if you want to be able to design your life, you must not only accept that failure is going to be part of the process, but you must also learn to embrace it.

I’ll tell you why: it is through the failures in life that we often learn our greatest lessons and are able to achieve more growth.

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You see, most people don’t take time to reflect upon their wins to figure out what went well that allowed them to win. And they definitely don’t take time to evaluate what they can do better the next time.

However, when people fail, they tend to be a bit more reflective, especially regarding why they failed in the first place.

If you can learn to dig into your failures a bit more and see them as learning opportunities, you will set yourself up for long-term success.

One of the biggest problems with failure is that people see it as a stop sign. They think that is the end of the road. Failure doesn’t have to be that way though.

If you want to start designing your life, start thinking of failure as a yield — a place where you pause, evaluate the situation, and proceed when you’re ready.

When you can learn to view failure in this way, you start to understand the benefits of it, and once you can understand its benefits, you’ll not only stop fearing failure, but you’ll start embracing it.

Final Thoughts

Living a life by design is absolutely possible. However, you have to remember that it is a conscious process.

Just like with architecture, great works don’t happen by accident. It’s through conscious, intentional action that someone is able to design and live the life they desire.

By engaging with the 5 steps outlined here, you’ll be effective and actually enjoy the process of designing your life.

More Tips About Living the Life You Want

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

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Justin Aldridge

Success Coach, Author, and Speaker helping people wake up to their potential to create lives better than their wildest dreams.

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Last Updated on August 3, 2020

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

To make goals or not to make goals, that is the question.

On the one hand, if you make goals without asking yourself what your true strengths and values are first, you could put yourself on the fast track to disappointment. On the other hand, if you don’t set any intentions at all, you could bounce through life like a pinball doing what others want without accomplishing what’s really important to YOU.

Fear not. Here are 8 powerful ways to be goal oriented using the ENVISION method (Endgame – Nesting – Value – Inspiration – Superpowers – Intimates – Openess – Nourishment) that will help you create a successful meaningful life:

1. Start with the End in Mind

To ensure that you make goals that matter, stand back and examine your life from a broader perspective. Think about the happy ending you would like to achieve, the “E” in ENVISION, and work backwards to determine how you’ll get there.

For example, if you’d like to generate goals for yourself over the next five years, write down where you’d like to be professionally and personally five years from now. Let nothing hold you back. Just keep that pen moving and see where it leads you.

Where do you see yourself in relation to work? What’s your family life like? What type of friends and social support group do you have? What are your hobbies? How is your health?

Next, ask yourself where you would like to be one year from now relative to what you’d like to accomplish in five years. Write the answer out in enough detail so that it seems real to you. Then ask yourself where you’d like to be three months from now. Be specific.

What about one month? One week? What one small action could you take this week to come closer to achieving your master plan?

If this exercise seems daunting, don’t worry. It’s actually a fun and eye-opening way to line up your goals with the bigger picture of your life so that you won’t waste your precious time on passing fancies and other people’s agendas.

I’ve used it with thousands of workshop participants who have rocked their lives. It will work for you, too!

2. Create Nested Goals

The most efficient way to achieve your goals is to nest action items inside them, the first “N” in ENVISION. Get specific about when, where, and how you’ll reach your objectives by breaking them down into subgoals.

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Make your aspirations challenging but not too hard. Each one should be measurable. Instead of writing “I’d like to write a book,” try setting an intention such as “I’d like to write two hours a day four times a week” and mark space on your calendar for it.

Make your aims positive. Instead of “I’d like to quit my stinking job,” think about what a desirable career would look like. Try “I’d like to develop educational toys with like-minded people in a virtual office” and then send out your résumé to companies with matching job openings.

Come up with alternative pathways to your goals so that if one doesn’t work, you’ll already have plan B in place. It’s normal to fail and experience setbacks. This goal-oriented strategy will help you move forward on the pathway to your dreams no matter what happens.

3. Get Clear on Your Values

Before you start setting goals, it’s important to ask yourself what you really value, the “V” in ENVISION.

In my creativity workshops, I’ve found that most people don’t get what they want in life because they’re playing out someone else’s idea of who they should be.

The number one regret of people on their deathbed is that they did not live their dreams. Don’t let that be you. To avoid living a life full of shoulds and obligations, make a wish list. Jot down what you really want and put all the reasons you think you can’t have it aside.

These aspirations can range from the material (such as a new car) to the psychological (high self-worth), to the spiritual (inner peace), to — well — pretty much anything you can think of. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy.

Giving yourself permission to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to getting it. Be sure your goals speak to your soul.

4. Make Time for Inspiration

As you put your goals together, think about how you can find downtime to receive inspiration in your life, the first “I” in ENVISION.

Americans put in the longest work hours and get the shortest paid vacation time in the developed world. Those of us “lucky” enough to have jobs have added another day to our work week because we now check work emails and calls from home. It’s no wonder we try to stuff everything we can’t do at work into our off hours.

But the second regret of the dying is that they wished they didn’t work so hard. Research shows that people who engage in creative hobbies and side projects are happier and flourish more in life because they can generate new ideas and express themselves uniquely.[1] Feeling energized and playful, they get more done in less time, become better problem solvers, and receive better evaluations at work.[2]

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Make balance a priority in your goal-oriented life. Start a hobby or side project to rejuvenate yourself after the workday ends. Paint, play hockey or try a new dinner recipe. Doing something you love for just a couple of hours a week can significantly improve your life. Like steering a ship slightly to the right, over time you’ll arrive at the destination YOU desire.

5. Form Goals Around Your Superpowers

Research shows that people are more likely to succeed when they develop their natural strengths, the “S” in ENVISION, than work on their weaknesses.

If you don’t know where your true talents lie, try using assessment tools such as Gallup’s CliftonStrengths and psychologist Martin Seligman’s Character Strengths to discover your personal strengths. You can also find your superpowers by answering these questions.

Each of us has a unique purpose in life. Most of us don’t realize it, though, because we’ve been pressured to conform to someone else’s idea of who we should be. Fear of change and staying in our comfort zones stunts our growth. Stretch yourself and take a risk if you want to find out what makes your heart sing.

Make an action plan to create a life in which you express your superpowers on a regular basis, whether it be through your vocation, a meaningful side project, a worthy cause, mindful parenting, volunteer work, or whatever else sparks your interest. This goal-oriented strategy guarantees you’ll thrive at work and at home.

6. Make Time for Intimates

When setting your goals, be sure to carve out time for your intimates, the second “I” in ENVISION. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “intimate” as “a very close friend or confidant: an intimate friend.”

The fourth regret of the dying is that they were too busy to see their friends much.[3] Make it a point to connect with real friends, people you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, confide in about most things, and be your true self around.

A few weeks ago, I suffered from an “eye stroke” and suddenly lost vision in my left eye. I’d moved to Portland nine months before and only knew one busy family I didn’t want to overburden. I was super lonely.

Because of my vision loss, I needed to ask for rides from people I barely knew to attend meetings of some of the groups I’d joined. These acquaintances are now turning into friends. I couldn’t have made it without their help and the support of friends I’ve known for years scattered around the globe.

A new Cigna study shows that nearly half of Americans feel alone or left out.[4] According to Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University, the detrimental effects of loneliness is the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.[5] She warns that:

“Loneliness and social isolation are linked to around a 30 percent increased risk of having a stroke or developing coronary artery disease.”[6]

I should know.

Being with your friends is not only good for your soul, but it is also essential for your health and well-being. Put it in your goals.

7. Open Up Emotionally

When crafting your goals, be sure to include ways you can open up about your feelings, the “O” in ENVISION. The third regret of the dying is that they wish they’d had the courage to express their true feelings instead of stuffing their emotions down to keep peace with others. To lead a fulfilling life, it’s important to prioritize talking and behaving honestly with others instead of hiding your true feelings.

According to Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps,[7]

“Start with identifying your emotions (e.g. angry, hurt) and understanding what triggered you to feel this way.”

She recommends you try to understand your feelings and practice self-compassion for having them. When you’re calmer, try to understand the person who upset you. What are their emotions? What triggered them? This will help you respect and care about yourself and the other person.

If there is someone you need to talk to or a situation you’d like to resolve, honor your feelings. Whether it be writing a letter or making a phone call or visiting someone you haven’t seen in years, put it on your goal list. Be sure to meet in a safe environment if you’re confronting someone who has abused or harmed you. Tell the truth as you see it and try to be kind.

Sharing your genuine feelings may bring you closer together and it may not. It doesn’t really matter how the other person responds. What matters is that you expressed your true self, that you did it for YOU. Make emotional honesty a habit by adding it to your goals.

8. Nurture Happiness

To be more goal oriented and succeed in life, nurture the people and activities that bring you joy, the final “N” in ENVISION.

The fifth regret of people on their deathbed is that they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Instead, they stayed stuck in old patterns and pretended to be content when they weren’t.

If you don’t like your job, make it a goal to look for a new position that aligns your paycheck with your purpose. If you are entrepreneurially-minded, think about turning your passion project into a business you love. If you have multiple passions, consider pursuing a slash career (e.g., copywriter/coder/career coach). According to Forbes Magazine, many companies are beginning to see the value in hiring employees who have side gigs that differ from their main vocations. You’ll bring in multiple streams of income and experience more meaning and fulfillment to your life.[8]

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If you are unhappy with your marriage or romantic relationship, set a goal to do something about it. Do you need to go to counseling? Do you need to move on? If you’re on the fence about whether to keep a friend in your life, be goal oriented about getting closure on the issue. Take care of yourself in the process by taking yoga classes or getting a much-needed massage.

Whatever you do, make it a goal to show compassion as often as you can because it will boost your happiness.[9] Dr. Amit Sood defines “compassion” as:

“Your ability to experience others’ feelings — from joy to sorrow — with a desire to help.”

By helping others in need, you not only can decrease their suffering, but you can also make yourself happier than you could by directly pursuing activities to make you happy.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the ENVISION method shows you how to blend lessons from the five regrets of the dying with effective goal setting techniques that center around your strengths to become goal oriented. It includes:

  • Endgame — Asking yourself where you want to be in 5 years, 1 year, now.
  • Nesting — Creating positive, specific, measurable subgoals.
  • Values — Building your goals around what truly matters to you.
  • Inspiration — Making time for meaningful hobbies and side projects.
  • Superpowers — Orienting your life plan around your unique strengths.
  • Intimates — Spending time with close friends and family.
  • Openness — Being honest about your feelings.
  • Nourishment — Nurturing people and activities that bring you joy.

It may seem like a lot of work at first glance but, in truth, it should only take you about an hour to piece together a list of goals following these guidelines. Why not trade an hour of watching television or engaging in social media to do this instead? You can always get online and watch TV later to reward yourself for becoming more goal oriented.

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring what would make your heart sing. It’s worth investing in yourself this way. You have the power to create a life that totally rocks by setting the intention to do so. As the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote,

“What you seek is seeking you.”

Be more goal driven!

More About Goals Getting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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