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Published on April 9, 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.

Conclusion

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.

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

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 June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

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