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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

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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Published on October 19, 2020

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

As a performance coach and expert in the psychology of productivity for over 25 years, I have used every tool in the book to teach people how to achieve their goals by breaking through their barriers, getting out of their heads, and getting into their productive flow.

Here are my favorite tools and techniques to keep you on the path towards achieving your goals and dreams.

1. Accountability

Your word is your wand. It’s the source of your power. What you say, what you commit to, and what you follow through on creates confidence in your own ability to create what you want in the world.

However, every time you go back on what you said you were going to do, it weakens your inner power. Your subconscious mind keeps track of what you promise. It records each time you don’t follow through with your commitments and unconsciously reduces your power to create. Keep your word and keep your power!

2. Time Excuse Diet

The fastest way to achieve your goals is to stop using time as an excuse for why you’re not getting things done. Stop seeing time as your enemy, and start seeing time as your most valuable ally. Picture yourself as the source of time, and decide where you want to use it and where not to.

3. Gratitude

The attitude of gratitude changes everything. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we connect to the most important things in our life, which floods our system with positive chemicals and releases joy, euphoria, and excitement.

Start by making a list of the things and people you are most grateful for in this moment. Every morning, list the 5 things you are grateful for that day.

4. 1% Improvement

To maintain momentum and motivation, focus on getting 1% better per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals. Let go of perfection and focus on progress. Anyone can improve by 1%. After a month, you’ll be 30% better. After 3 months you will be 100% better without nearly as much effort as you think.

5. Nature Breaks

When you take a break, look around you. If you don’t see any plants, trees, or blue sky, then you need to get outside. Being in nature naturally resets your mental state to a state of natural wellbeing.

Wayne Dyer famously said, “there’s nothing to do in nature. Nature will do you.” Take 5-10 minutes to be in nature with no expectations, and you will feel the results immediately.

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6. Music

Songs and sounds that motivate you have been shown to increase your brain’s ability to learn, be creative, and be motivated. This is especially true of classical music.

Put music on during mundane tasks to help you get through the day. Relaxing music in the evening can help you rest and recover better. Meditation music can help you reach deeper levels of focus and calm. In short, a bit of pleasant music can make nearly any situation better and more productive.

7. Hypnosis

Subconscious suggestion while in a relaxed state is the fastest way to program your mind for what you truly want. The subconscious mind is the hard drive of everything we do. A good way to start self-hypnosis is to close your eyes in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and then put on audio conditioning or hypnosis audio.

8. Relational Communication

When having trouble communicating, remember this: the meaning of communication is the response you get.

When you’re communicating something important, pay attention to the way the other person responds. If they’re not responding the way you expected, it’s your responsibility to continue the communication cycle until they understand it the way you intended. Don’t make the other person responsible for how they’ll understand your message.

9. Laughter

Creating laughter in difficult situations stops us from immediately going into worry, doubt, and fear. Laughter is like the jamming system of our mental radar that gives us space to observe and learn from our situation.

When encountering a problem or difficulty, repeat out loud to yourself, “I laugh at this current situation. I can laugh at how bad this is.” Get your brain focused on laughter and amusement. It prevents the mental dominoes from falling down the wrong path by putting your mind into a state of curiosity so it becomes open to learning from the situation.

10. Time Blocking

If it’s important, you need to calendar it. Make sure you block out time for what’s most important in your day. This ensures at the end of the day that the essential things are done and distractions don’t rule your world. I use Outlook to organize my calendar appointments and Calendly to make it easier for people to book themselves on my calendar.

Find out more about time blocking: Time Blocking for Productivity (A Complete Guide)

11. Power Naps

One of my favorite strategies for achieving your goals fast is taking a nap. Research shows that people who take naps are more productive. A regular nap for 20 minutes per day can increase your performance and productivity by 10-30%.

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A great way to ensure a good power nap is by using an eye mask with noise-canceling headphones. For an extra boost, drink a cup of coffee just before you begin your nap. It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to kick in and it will help you wake up feeling extra energetic.

Learn more about power nap: How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

12. 4-7-8 Breathing

When you’re stressed out or redlining in your day, this ancient Vedic breathing technique will instantly calm your last nerves. Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds. A quick 3 rounds of this technique will bring you down from even the most stressful situations in your day so you can get back to being productive.

13. Circle of Excellence

Here’s a quick way to shift yourself into a high-performance mindset: think about a time when you felt super confident and unstoppable. Re-live that memory. Place that memory in an imaginary circle in front of you on the floor. Once it’s there, step into the circle and the memory.

Imagine yourself being transported back to it, feeling it come in through your toes all the way to the top of your head, and imagine yourself looking through your own eyes as if you are inside of that memory now. Seeing what you’re seeing, hearing what you’re hearing, and feeling what your feeling, be in the memory now. Feel the motivation and confidence rise in your body. Activate that positive feeling in this very moment.

14. Be of Service

Helping others is one of the most relevant things we can do today to be happier, more grateful, and more motivated. Giving to others is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves psychologically. It releases a huge amount of positive chemicals and hormones that make us feel great. It also helps us put life in perspective. The happiest and most productive people are those who feel they are being of service.

15. Visualization

This is one of my favorite tools to help you create your ideal future. Take a few minutes to visualize how you want your life to be. This will help you get there much faster.

Studies with athletes have shown clearly that the more you practice any action in your mind, the quicker it becomes a reality. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization and doing the actual thing. This might be the most powerful free technique of all time, so use it as often as possible!

Start trying these 13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals.

16. Head-Heart-Body

This exercise is the fastest way to check your mind, emotion, and physical well-being. It is a lot like checking the gauges on your car. The technique is simple—close your eyes, focus on your head, and notice what thoughts you’re having.

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Take a deep breath. Focus on your heart. Notice what mood or emotion you’re having. Take another breath. Focus on your diaphragm. Notice the sensations in your physical body. Take one more deep breath and ask the question, “What am I needing right now?” Write down the answer your mind gives you. This is a great technique to use midday or right before important decisions or activities.

17. Technology Time-Out

In our 24/7 hyper-connected world, we are constantly connected to our devices. This “always-on” lifestyle is hard on our bodies and mind. Putting your devices down a few times a day can help you reset and recharge. Take a few 10-minute “technology time-outs” each day and see how much better you feel by the end of the day.

18. Timefulness

Be “timeful” by being mindful of your relationship with time and being intentional with how you use your time. Stop blaming time and start using it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life by knowing that you are 100% in control of your time—you are the source of time.

19. Time Frame Exercise

Changing the time frame in which you view a situation alters the way your brain views the content, often changing it from potentially negative to positive. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you are focusing all your energy on this moment in time. If you take a moment to close your eyes and expand your time view from this moment into the future, it instantly changes the context which also changes the meaning of the content.

Open up time a bit in your mind and see how the situation could play out this month, year, or over a lifetime. The biggest upsets in life often turn out to be the most positive for us long term or, at least, have a less negative impact on us than we think.

20. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts has a profound effect on integrating the right and left sides of the brain. Research shows that when you write things down, you allow clarity and insights to come through simply by putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling allows you to name the emotions and things bothering you, and this process alone can help you neutralize and settle your thoughts. Name it to tame it.

21. Schedule Everything

Schedules allow for spontaneity. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows the more organized your calendar is, the more flexible you can be. Knowing what you have to accomplish frees your mind to allow for spontaneous activity.

The lack of scheduling creates chaos in the mind. The calendar gets it out of your mind and frees up more cognitive space. It also gives us a GPS for what we need to do each day. Schedule all personal activities, not just work.

22. Get Better Sleep

Sleep is the master tool for recovery. Sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room is the key to recovery and sleep. I personally use a Chillipad to keep my blanket temperature around 65 degrees. This gives me incredibly restful sleep.

23. The 5-Second Rule

This momentum technique from Mel Robbins is perfect for when you know you have something to do but don’t want to do it. Count down from 5 to1, and then start the activity. This countdown gives you the mental momentum to do things at that moment. Give yourself a countdown out loud whenever you find it hard to start a task and at the end of the count, you will be in action.

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24. The Accountability Mirror

This daily guidance technique keeps you focused on your goals. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish today?” If you didn’t, be brutally honest about why you did not accomplish it, commit to fixing the issue, and do it the next day.

25. Stop, Start, Change

This is a super-effective 30-second therapy. Any issue you have or any place where you are stuck, stopped, or struggling, ask yourself, “what should I stop doing right now,” then “what should I start doing right now”, and “what should I change that I’m doing right now?”

26. The Magic Question

Here it is, the big question: “what am I pretending not to know?” When your brain is stuck and frozen or you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what you are pretending not to know about the current situation. It inverts the way your brain is processing the question. It penetrates your mind in a different way unlocking new possibilities.

The brain has a certain sequence to answer most questions. This question flips that sequence upside down, so your brain is forced to look at it differently. Use this question when you are ready for powerful changes.

27. Self-Compassion

One of the greatest things you can do to improve your productivity and maintain high-performance levels in your work or in whatever you do is to practice the techniques of being there for yourself. This means being mindful and paying attention to the way you talk to yourself when you encounter failures and setbacks, especially ones that feel as if they are your fault.

The key is to use the same kind of self-talk as you would use with a friend if they were in a similar situation. Speak to yourself with warmth and kindness. Then, recognize the common humanity of the situation—that you are not alone and there are many people out there experiencing exactly what you are right now.

Lastly, stay mindful of how you are talking to yourself and don’t overidentify or dissociate from the situation. “Compassionate productivity” is the most effective way to support yourself in these difficult times.[1] It’s not about being “soft” or going easy on yourself. It’s about being there for yourself in a supportive way, so you can recuperate and get back in the game in an even more productive way.

Try these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to achieve your goals requires implementing some techniques and making use of some tools to help you on your path towards success. These 27 strategies are good starting points to jumpstart your journey towards achieving your dreams.

More Tips on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Doran Erickson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Griffith: Compassionate Productivity

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