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 July 21, 2021

What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion

What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion

I like to use the word passion interchangeably with words like determination, conviction, and love. Passion is a strong desire that can get you to do amazing things.

Passion is an emotion to be acted upon. Without action, passion yields no worthwhile results. Passion is the fuel in the fire of action. When you have passion for something, you love it even when you hate it.

So what is passion? How do you recognize your passion, and how do you put it to good use?


What Is Passion?

A desire fueled by passion will bring about the greatest results in life.

I like to skateboard, but I don’t have the determination to push myself through broken bones and hospital visits. That’s why I’m not as good as I could be. I don’t have a passion for it.

Passion can push you through difficult times because you don’t care what it takes to become better. We all have the ability to create whatever kind of life we want. The secret to living the dream is hidden in our passions and what we do because of them.


How to Know What You’re Passionate About?

Finding what you are passionate about is a journey in itself. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t feel like you know yet. Keep trying new things. It will come even if you have to build it. If you find your passion, or find yourself hot on its trail, don’t give it up.

What if you know what you have a passion for but you don’t do anything about it? This is the main problem with passion. You can have all the passion in the world for something but if you never do anything about it, that passion is useless.

Maybe you work a good job that pays all the bills but it doesn’t allow you to truly follow your passion. You’re afraid of what will happen if you change things up. Yes, change is scary, but it’s not until we leave our comfort zone that we find what we’ve been missing out on.


You’re the author of your life. Don’t settle for the bare minimum just because it’s working out right now.

You will never know what you’re truly capable of unless you push yourself.

But even when you pursue your passion, you will find yourself tripped up by failures and other obstacles. You can’t let that get to you. It happens to everyone on the path of following their passion. Abe Lincoln had a strong passion for building a great country. You think he let a few failures stop him from that? Don’t let obstacles get you down.


What About Passion for People?

The idea of passion also applies to people. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking you love someone and not doing anything about it. Ask yourself, is giving up my pride worth it to maintain a relationship? What about being unselfish and sacrificing your time or comfort? If you can’t do that, it’s probably not real love, or you need to start making changes.

Often, I think we need to remind ourselves who we love and act accordingly. It’s easy to let family relationships weaken because of pride. Of course, you say you love your family, but when your brother is in the school play, and you hate plays, do you go?

The same applies to intimate relationships. Do you only love them when it’s easy? Real love takes sacrifice and work. You push through the difficult times because you love them and you understand that every passion pursued will have bumps in the road. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what it means to have passion for someone. This is why divorce rates are so high and families are often torn apart by hurt feelings and unnecessary drama.


Following any passion takes vulnerability and work. But I promise in the end, the outcome of such efforts will be the most fulfilling to your life.

More About Living Your Passion

Featured photo credit: Randalyn Hill via

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