An important step to designing your life is acknowledging and understanding the choices you have in your life, being willing to make the most of those choices, and leveraging the choices you have to select the best path forward for yourself.
Life is not something that just happens to you, and you always have choices. The key to designing the life you really want is knowing exactly what your options are and using all the information at your disposal to make the best selection for you.
Your life is defined by the choices you make. While not everything that happens in your life is up to you, how you respond to life’s circumstances and opportunities is always a matter of choice. Even when you choose not to act or react in your life, you are still making a decision, so there is nothing that is beyond your control.
Becoming Aware of Your Choices
There are certain things in life you cannot control. For example, you have no control over the circumstances of your birth or family, your genetic makeup, or the opportunities you were given as a child. However, your choices can override these circumstances.
Your choices determine how you treat others, how hard you work, and the activities in which you engage at even an early age. This helps form you into the person you become later in life. As you get older, you have free will to choose who to love, what do choose as a career, and ultimately, what you will strive to achieve in life.
Acknowledging that all of these are choices in life, and not things that happen without your consent, is a big step toward designing your life. Choosing to accept responsibility for these choices, and not to blame life or others for the circumstances in which you find yourself, helps you not only move forward from your past but also accept the tremendous power you have to select your future.
You already have all the ability within you to choose the life you want and to design the experiences that will lead you to your goal.
Using Self-Knowledge to Make Better Choices
Developing knowledge about yourself, including your fears and insecurities as well as your strengths and gifts, is essential to designing your life and attaining your goals. Until you truly know yourself, which means getting clear about your beliefs and values, you will always be vulnerable to crafting your life to please others or assessing your accomplishments against what others have achieved.
When you become aware of yourself and your inner longings and desires, you can use that information to better inform the design process for your life. Without knowing your true passions, interests, and strengths, though, you are left making decisions based on poor information.
Without self-knowledge, you are more likely to pursue work or other goals that are unsuited to your talents and passions. Instead of choosing what makes you happy, you may opt to go along with the crowd or take the advice of others when you lack sufficient insight into yourself. This type of decision-making can lead you to invest more of yourself and your money in pursuits that don’t make you happy, too.
Designing Your Life is About Choice
Understanding that life is about choices and you are in charge of those options gives you the power to design the best life for you. Even opting not to choose is a choice, and only you will have to live with the consequences of those choices.
Regardless of your initial circumstances or what you were born with, your life is defined by the choices you make with how to deal with those events and what dreams you strive to attain.
Have you thought about a life design strategy for yourself?
You do not have to simply endure your problems and negative experiences in life. These troubling circumstances and events can be learning tools for you that can help to design a better life moving forward. The problems in your life can be helpful and informative to help you determine how best to create your future.
Learning from negative experiences improves your future decisions. Setbacks and failures are learning opportunities, and you can apply this to your next attempt or future goals. Problems provide you with the skills and knowledge you did not have previously and improve how you decide to pursue things in the future.
The negative experiences in your life often point to areas in your skills, knowledge, or self-knowledge that need improvement. Even when the circumstances were completely random and beyond your control, you can still learn a lot about yourself, including areas for improvement.
Life Design Strategy: Use Problems to Redesign Your Life
This unique life design strategy means choosing between many possible futures, and then making a choice to do the work necessary to accomplish your goals. These choices define who you are and what you will become.
The first step to using your problems to help inform your life’s design is to spend some time logging all your failures and problems. Select a specific period to examine, then write down every problem or failure you experienced during that time. Focus not only on issues for yourself but how your choices created problems for others.
For each of these problems, then, you need to determine the source or type of your difficulties. Is it a minor screw-up that was easily fixable? If so, have you acknowledged this problem and either apologized if needed or otherwise moved on? These types of problems shouldn’t necessarily inform your design process, but they can tell you where you need to focus more attention in your daily life.
Is the problem a result of personal weakness? Are there mistakes that you seem to make again and again? In these cases, you may need to choose to avoid specific situations or options so as not to engage these weaknesses. Remember, avoidance is a choice, too. Not all problems require a solution. Some just need to not be repeated.
Finally, is the problem a growth opportunity? These situations invite you to improve, learn, and grow by paying attention to what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and using that knowledge to make better choices in the future.
Those areas that are growth opportunities are places where design thinking can help. These represent parts of your life where you are unhappy or can grow, and these can be used to design a life that helps you achieve all you want in life.
Life Design Strategy: Become Immune to Failure
When you see your problems and failures as learning opportunities, and when you realize that designing your own life means you can’t fail, you will become immune to worry and anxiety about your problems and fears.
Your problems are what help you develop perseverance or what some call grit. When you see your problems and failures as growth experiences, instead of roadblocks, you build grit and are able to accept that life is a process, not an outcome.
Life Design Strategy: Think of Problems as the Raw Material for Your Dreams
is no winning or losing when you choose to design your own life because the
process means you get to keep designing and changing in pursuit of happiness.
Your problems are just the raw material for your dreams. We all have problems
and make mistakes, but learning from these is what makes you a stronger, more
confident person who is ready to pursue any dream you choose.
Reinvent Yourself with New Coping Skills
Are you wondering how you can reinvent yourself? Consider for a minute how much of your life is affected by stress. It’s possible to get so entrenched in fighting fires and lurching from disaster to disaster that we become essentially reactive. We plan our lives around our troubles, instead of having fulfilling lives filled with challenges and opportunities.
We get so enmeshed in problems related to stress, our very personalities get warped. This isn’t to say we become an evil shadow of ourselves, but we end up straying from what we want to do, how we want to be and who we really are.
It’s possible that at one time we had some great coping skills, but times change, and so do situations. What worked well in the past might not be working so well nowadays. Think then of how different your life could be if you weren’t so powerfully affected by stress. By learning some new coping skills, you reinvent yourself anew.
Consider the following techniques to reinvent yourself with new ways to cope.
Reinvent Yourself by Changing the Way You Talk to Yourself
It is actually a simple thing to change your self-talk. Often we aren’t aware of the way our inner voice affects our outer reality, but we need to get awake to it. When something irksome happens, do you think “Not another disaster! What am I going to do? This is hopeless.”
No one is suggesting you change that to a mental happy dance when something bad happens but changing your self-talk to a more supportive and encouraging stance helps reduce stress. In many ways, it’s the way we perceive disadvantageous situations that control our response—not the trouble itself.
Cognitive re-framing is an excellent way to Reinvent Yourself
Changing your self-talk is part of a coping skill set called cognitive re-framing. Cognitive re-framing involves looking at a problem or situation with a fact-based approach, as opposed to an emotional approach. Feelings are real, and it’s important to honor them, but our emotions are not always rooted in reality.
Recognizing when our feelings aren’t coming from a realistic outlook is one of the most powerful coping skills you can ever learn. It’s a skill, and it takes time and practice to shift from a stress-coping approach based on emotion to one based on facts. By observing things as they are, as opposed to how we wish they were, how we think they should be, or how we fear they might be, we learn to tackle problems realistically.
Be Flexible in Your Approach
Increase your flexibility. Often, we don’t see solutions to life’s problems because for various reasons, we deliberately block off those very solutions. This following is a complex example, If you’re behind at work, but working one weekend would get you totally caught up, would you do it? If your answer is “No way, I’m never doing work for free,” yet you agonize over your backlog of work all week long, are you really better off holding to your ideal of no weekend work? If it’s just one weekend to correct a perpetually agonizing thorn in your flesh, which would you rather have?
There are so many examples of this kind of self-blocking. Sometimes, you have to think of the unthinkable to reduce stress. As well, a rigid approach to problem-solving doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Reducing stress requires a fairly flexible approach. People will notice when you become less rigid.
Being Mindful is an Excellent Way to Reinvent Yourself
Add mindfulness to your life. Mindfulness is self-explanatory, but more of a challenge than it sounds. Mindfulness means fully attending to what we’re doing right now, what we’re feeling, and what’s prompting those feelings.
Mindfulness also takes into account the physical environment. Where are we, what are the colors, the whole tactile experience going on around us?
If that sounds ridiculous, remember that everything we experience—everything—gets filtered, interpreted, valued or discarded inside our heads. Our minds create stress. You can be mindful anywhere, at any time.
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