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 January 21, 2021

7 Steps to Reinventing Yourself and Reach Your Goals

7 Steps to Reinventing Yourself and Reach Your Goals

Even though there are some people who feel great about their job and have somehow managed to find a good lifestyle that suits them, many still feel trapped and dissatisfied. There are people out there that are desperate for a change, be it in their personal life, their career or something else. The worst thing you can do is to keep your feelings bottled up and soldier on. Depression affects a good chunk of the population but making a change can be scary and difficult. However, if you decide to face the fear of failure and reinvent yourself, there are certain steps that you have to take to improve your chances of success.

1. Decide on what you want to focus on

Never plan a big change in your life and career, with only a vague idea of what you wish to accomplish. Sit down and think about all the things you are interested in, would like to do and see yourself investing a great deal of time in. Your motivation can be money, passion, reducing stress, being free to make your own decisions, or having more free time on your hands eventually. Find a path that suits you and bravely make the first step.

2. Always try to make some time for your new passion

We can all be busy and have hectic schedules, but if you really want to make a change you’ll need to find a way to make time for your new passion in life. You’ll need to spend a lot of time learning new skills and acquiring great amounts of information, so most of the free time you have will have to be used up for improving yourself. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes on a break or if you have to sacrifice your TV hour after work to studying, you need to make the sacrifice. Only by completely doing away with useless procrastinating activities like watching TV, YouTube clips or playing games, can you find enough time to earn a living, work on reinventing yourself and improve your mind and body.

3. Keep educating yourself and look for resources

A lot of people complain about the lackluster education system and rightfully so. Today you need a bunch of forms for everything, and although efforts are being made to switch to online forms that would make everyone’s life easier, we are still a long way from enabling quick and efficient decisions to be made within the education system. Changes are made very slowly as it takes ages to process all that written information.


This is why you don’t develop any applicable skills or learn a whole lot in school – everyone seems to be focused on bureaucracy instead of effective education. This is why you have to do all the research and learn on your own if you want to get anywhere. In this age of online courses, cheap eBooks and video tutorials it’s not very difficult to find the information you need from respected sources. Start off slow and learn about the basics, then branch out and keep devouring books on the subjects you wish to specialize in.

A good way to get started is to look at the bibliography listed in the more basic books and do some online research to find out who the most trusted experts on the topic are, and just get their books. Even if you’re very busy and strapped for time, devote an hour a day on reading and if you have plenty of free time, fill it up with reading and research. If you get bored, then switch to improving your general knowledge to keep things interesting.

4. Do plenty of networking, both online and offline

Between all that reading and your usual obligations you’ll have fairly little free time, mostly in the evenings or on the weekend, and you’ll want to make the most out of it by relaxing and having some fun. You may also take a few breaks during the day and scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feed for something interesting. These are great opportunities to do some networking. While you’re out about town, try sparking up conversations with people.

Keep going out, hanging out with your friends and meeting new people. Ask around to find out if anyone knows someone who works in the industry you are interested in and offer to buy that person a round of drinks in exchange for a short conversation. When on social media, look for people that share the same professional interests and follow industry influencers to get some inside info about new trends and tactics. Always be on the lookout for networking opportunities.


5. Create a schedule, but don’t look too far into the future

Having a clear schedule is a good idea when you are trying to make the most of any given day, and setting goals helps keep you motivated and on track. However, you can get bogged down on plans for the future, career choices you’ll have to make and the money you will be able to earn, so much that you lose sight of smaller goals.

You can also psyche yourself out and lose motivation, or spend a good amount of time daydreaming instead of doing something useful. In the begging it’s all about learning the basics, steadily developing deeper knowledge, getting a bit of experience and becoming more proficient in your new chosen profession. Only once you’ve become good at it, can you start thinking about career-building opportunities and make long-term plans.

6. Take care of your body and mind by staying fairly fit

If you have health problems, don’t sleep well, and have dietary deficiencies, living a fast-paced life and reinventing yourself is going to be a whole lot harder. Physical exercise can help keep your hormones in balance, prevent chronic aches and pains, and lower the risk of a lot of illnesses. It will make you feel more focused and full of energy.

Getting plenty of quality sleep is also incredibly important for keeping your mind fresh and working at 100% capacity – which is the key to fast learning and reducing stress.


A 30-40 minute workout session or 10-15 minutes of active running will tire you out and make it easier to fall asleep, which combined with some stretching and keeping your bedroom in complete darkness will help you get those 8-9 hours of sleep your body needs.

Eat a decent amount of fruit, vegetables and unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, and fish oil) during the day to keep your mind and body working at optimal levels and to keep your immune system in check. With 3-4 hours of exercise per week and some healthy food in your diet, you will be much more positive and productive.

7. Hang out more with people who are supportive and can help you grow

Most people won’t welcome change, particularly if you are doing something that doesn’t fit the side of your character that everyone has gotten to know over the years. Some will even discourage you or try to distract you. You will be pressured to spend more time with others, and time will become a very valuable resource to you.

This is why you should quickly and efficiently cut off everyone that keeps pulling you back or expects a lot from you without giving anything back. You know the kind, constantly asking for favors, looking after their own interests above all else and nowhere to be seen when you are in a pinch and need some help.


Focus your efforts on people who give you support, aren’t afraid to tell you their opinion without judging you and that can actually help you out. You need to be around people you are compatible with and whose company you enjoy in the little spare time you have, and around people who can help you improve.

There are no guarantees, and you might fail once or twice before finding a good path for yourself, but that shouldn’t discourage you. It’s better to work hard and overcome adversity in the end, than to toil away feeling miserable.

Featured photo credit: Sharon Christina Rørvik via

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