Published on December 10, 2020

How to Optimize Your Life and Live by Design (Not Default)

How to Optimize Your Life and Live by Design (Not Default)

Have you thought about your next high school reunion and how you can’t wait to share what a phenomenal life you’re living? Oh wait, is your life actually kind of average and non-spectacular? Maybe you’ve even had the thought, where is my life headed? Let’s jump in to see how you can break free and live by design.

How exactly can you live by design and create a life you love?

You start with the right mindset.

Also, you want to get very clear on what you desire. Equally as important, you must believe it’s possible. It’s easier said than done, but it’s absolutely achievable with the right tools.

1. Get Clear on What Makes You Tick

Think of times when a topic made you spitting mad or so happy your heart swelled.

These intense emotions have been elicited because it hit a core value chord.

Romantic squeezes are fantastic at helping us discover these feelings. Political arguments also bring out our most protected values.

Heated disagreements over how to raise kids are the perfect example. You may believe your kids will be more fabulous if they learn to play an instrument. However, your partner is headstrong on making your children the next Olympic superstars.

This scenario reveals that one of your core values revolves around intellect, music, academics, or possibly prestige.

The key is peeling back the layers to reveal the underlying ideology that is driving your emotions.


Why does climate change concern you? Is it fear for your children’s future? If so, your core value may be protecting your family.

Why Do I Get So Emotional?

When we feel immensely angry or frustrated, it’s because we are protecting a core value.

Financial stability, safety, religion, helping others, acceptance, respect, and independence are all examples of core values.

Of course, positive feelings show us our most revered ethics, too. Seeing a happy family; having great success at work; learning a new concept, are all things to pay attention to.

Think of who you admire most and why. What traits or accomplishments are most impressive to you?

How Do Core Values Help You Live by Design?

When you align your intrinsic values with what you want in life, your chances of success are far higher.

Your deeply held principles will help you persevere when times are tough. They will also create a sense of fulfillment.

On the flip side, if your big goals don’t support your ideals, it’ll be easy to run for the hills when things get tough.

Learn From Those Who Got It Right

Growing up, Oprah Winfrey wanted to be a teacher to inspire students to achieve their greatest potential. Can you see how she incorporated this value into creating the wildly successful OWN Network[1]?

Microsoft is another example of alignment. Bill Gates had a mission of putting a PC in every home in America.


His core value was winning.

Winning was instilled in him as a child. His parents encouraged their children to compete against each other. Right or wrong, his sense of rising to the top incessantly drove his actions.

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Tom’s Shoes, became inspired after meeting some women at a bar in Argentina[2].

They were distributing shoes to needy children, and he decided to lend a hand. Although I doubt his intentions started completely altruistic, the experience struck a chord with his ideologies.

Tom’s Shoes was valued at $625 million, as of 2018.

2. It Has to Be Love

Figuring out what you’re passionate about is the next step. If you don’t know this, think about your profound interests or hobbies.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you most curious about?
  • What captivates your daydreams?
  • When have you felt your heart sing?

Brainstorm and write everything down. Go back and circle similar items.

Is there a theme? Use this exercise to unlock ideas about how you can incorporate your passions or interests into your future.

3. Stay in Your Zone of Genius

If you want to get things done with less effort and more enjoyment as you live by design, operate from your Zone of Genius (ZOG). Your ZOG represents your natural-born gifts[3].


When you spend most of your time working from this space, it takes less mental effort.

Are you the person people come to when they need creative ideas? Do you thrive on numbers and data? Is writing your thing?

Also, you need to be aware of the areas you aren’t gifted in! Do you break out in hives at the thought of bookkeeping? Are you one who likes the idea of organization, but would lose your head if it wasn’t attached?

No judgment! However, you want to find workarounds for these areas that you’re not as strong in.

As you’re designing your future, make sure to structure it around your ZOG, and avoid your weaknesses as much as possible.

The 80/20 Rule

Stay in your ZOG 80% of the time, allowing only 20% to work in your less valued areas. This equation will allow you to thrive more quickly and with far less pain!

4. Watch out for Saboteurs

You may be cruising along. Motivation is high, and you can visualize your end game as you try to live by design. Out of nowhere, a saboteur clobbers you in your tracks.

The saboteur may be disguised as procrastination, overwhelm, fear, or resistance.

How to Overcome Saboteurs

Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap, discusses the concept of upper limit problems.

We all have a comfort zone designed to protect us from embarrassment, shame, and condemnation.


When we push ourselves to a new level of success, we have to break through our imaginary safety guidelines. Hendricks calls these obstacles our upper limit problems.

If you feel resistance or any of the saboteur’s effects mentioned above, it’s a great sign! It means you’re stretching outside of your safety zone.

Embrace these challenges as positive signs, and quickly find ways to persevere. The more you overcome your upper limit problems, the higher your self-confidence and success will be!

Enlist a coach, mentor, or respected friend to help you find ways to navigate the saboteur’s hooks.

5. Create Your Blueprint to Live by Design

Your final step is to create a blueprint with benchmarks. This exercise will help you remain on track. Furthermore, it will feel more tangible as you work toward your goals.

I have my clients set up 90-day goals, and we work backward from there.

Set up small objectives, which lead you to your ultimate goal. Breakdown what needs to happen weekly.

Try to achieve at least one big part of your goal each week. Examples can be getting TV interviews, hiring for an important position, contacting an influential person, etc.

Remember, as you continue on this journey, your excitement will build as your mini-goals are achieved.

The Bottom Line

By weaving together your core values, passion, and Zone of Genius, you’ll be well on your way to creating a fulfilling, exciting future.

Remain aware of your saboteurs, and be ready to take them down when you sense them. Enjoy creating your blueprint to live by design, as this is your map to the incredible life you’re stepping into!

More on How to Design Your Perfect Life

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via


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Midori Verity

Mindset Coach, Certified Behavioral Specialist, and Entrepreneur for 25+ years

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

When you dare to dream big, you are taking an active role in your life. You are being present and allowing yourself to experience things as they happen. As you make a conscious effort to set goals and achieve them, you are going to have a richer life experience. In this article, we discuss 7 reasons to dream big.

1. Live a Life of No Regrets

There are plenty of experiences in life that don’t come around very often. Halley’s Comet, for instance, comes around once every 75 years. As a result, most people make a serious effort to experience this once in a lifetime event. When you understand something is special, you usually try to make it a point to experience it.

Your life and the experiences you accumulate are no less valuable. Yet, there are people who are not experiencing this very special opportunity every day.

There is little worse than coming to the end of your life and realizing you never lived your fullest life. By acknowledging that your life is as special of an event as an eclipse or Halley’s Comet, you will live your life to the fullest. When you dare to dream big, you are breaking your limits and challenging the status quo.

2. Inspire Others

Think about the stories that motivate you to take action. These are usually stories of people who overcame the odds and achieved something great. It is why so many people love to watch movies; you are living vicariously through the experiences of the hero. Their willingness to do the right thing in the bleakest of times is the stuff legends are made of.


Heroes exist in real life, too. Just like in the movies, they are the people who show courage in the face of danger and dare to dream in the face of adversity. They are also willing to put the needs of others above their own. You could inspire the next generation by your contribution if you dare to dream big.

3. Receive a Greater Reward

Those who are willing to take risks in life end up receiving the lion’s share of the reward. Think about the difference between someone who opens their own law firm versus someone who chooses to be a public defender. They are essentially doing the same work, but the person who is a public defender is not taking any risk. They are going to receive a consistent paycheck every week, regardless of the amount of work they perform.

Someone who owns their own law firm has the ability to earn an unlimited amount of income. However, they also have the ability to earn nothing.

Those who dare to dream big understand that there is a risk associated with their decisions. Most people are not willing to take on the risk associated with chasing their dreams because do not want to be put in a position where they can lose everything. They would rather live a life short of their true potential in order to avoid possible failure…but where’s the fun in that?

4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is such a wonderful place. You get into a little groove and things seem to be coming along naturally.


However, while your comfort zone can feel great, it is also the place where your big dreams go to die. For someone to dare to dream big, they know they must push themselves beyond their current limits. A Yale study says that stability shuts off the switch to your brain. In other words, when you remain in your comfort zone, your brain stops learning.[1]

When you dare to dream big, you are encouraging your brain to imagine ways to accomplish your goal. There is a level of uncertainty that causes you to fear leaving your comfort zone. You are worried about your ability to succeed and whether the journey is worth traveling.

You may think, “What if I invest a year into this relationship and find out this person is not right for me?” Or what if you accept that new position, but you don’t like your new boss? All of these thoughts are signs that you are about to leave your comfort zone. Instead of running away from these experiences, try to lean into them.

5. Living Small Doesn’t Help Anyone

The sad truth is that plenty of people will not like you simply because you are successful. Success will test your relationships with your friends and family. You will feel tempted to limit yourself and not pursue your big dreams.

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you cannot dare to dream big because the people you are currently around dream small. Living small only hinders your growth and theirs[2]. At least by pursuing your dreams, your friends and family may live through your experiences. As a result, you may be the catalyst they need to pursue their own.


In addition, you never know what amazing things you will accomplish if you dare to dream big. Imagine going to medical school and creating the cure for cancer. Or making advancements in technology and changing the human experience for decades to come. You need to find your motivation and drive in life.

If everyone lived small, there would be no innovation, advancement, or growth. Does that sound like a world you want to be a part of?

6. Conquer Fear

There are two choices in life. You are either living a life of fear or a life of dreams. When you dare to dream big, you are undoubtedly living a life based on your dreams. Your dreams are found in that little voice inside of you that tells you all the amazing things you can do to change the world.

The problem most people face is they have another voice in their head telling them all the reasons they cannot live their dream life.[3] This voice is constantly reminding you of all of your mistakes and all of the reasons success is not possible.

Fear is a powerful tool you can utilize to help you take action. Instead of being afraid of how someone is going to react, be afraid of letting yourself down. Stop thinking about the worst thing that can happen for once and start thinking about the best things that can happen.


How would your life be different if you dared to dream big? In fact, how would the life of those you love be different because of your willingness to pursue your dreams? Allow these answers to fuel you in your time of fear and self-doubt. You are counting on you, but if that is not enough, those you love are counting on you, too.

7. Write Your Own Story

Have you ever gotten lost in a good book? Books tend to be better than most movies’ because books don’t have a budget. Movies are bound by the laws of science and technology. These laws don’t exist when you write a book. There is no discussion around how much those explosions cost or whether you can make something look real.

Indeed, books allow the author and the reader to both use their imagination. The author is putting their imagination on each page, and the reader uses their imagination to interpret the story. Your life is like being lost in a good book. Every day you wake up, you are writing another chapter. No one knows how the story is going to end, but how would you like it end? Do you want to be victorious because you were willing to dare to dream big, or do you want people to say you left with untapped potential?

Final Thoughts

Your life is the best gift the universe can give you, so don’t waste it. Be willing to dare to dream big and allow yourself to make mistakes. Things are not always going to go your way, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find a way overcome the challenges you face. Continue to strive to be a little better each day, and before you know it, you will be everything you thought you could be and more.

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