Can You Design Your Life By Your Own Design?
Lifestyle Design offers us a unique opportunity to care for and make ourselves a priority. This feeling of being lost can be driven by some factors ranging from not working in the “right” career to making the wrong choice to live in a particular town or state.
Every day, we make decisions that we think will align with what is we want to do, who it is we want to be, or where it is we want to go only to find that we may not be living the life we were meant to live or being the real self that we are supposed to be.
Studies show that in 2017, only 50 percent of Americans were satisfied with their job. Although these levels are the highest they have been since 2005, the reality is that there is still a significant number of adults out there who are not happy with what it is they do.
These statistics only shed a small bit of light on the story. Although half of those surveyed were satisfied with the job they do, there’s another half of the American population who is not so happy for a variety of reasons.
Dave Evans and Bill Burnett of Stanford University in their book, Designing Your Life suggests that for each of us to own our design, we must first do a little work to understand if we are where it is we are supposed to be.
Knowing your self by design requires having a self-awareness of who you are and creating a design based on multiple ideas about who it is you want to be and what it is you want to do on a professional and personal level. To be self-aware means to have a clear perception of your personality, your strengths, your motivations and a keen perception of how others view you.
Willingness to Test Your Theories about Who You Think You Are and Who You Want to Be
We all walk around with an idea of who it is we want to be and the things we want to do, but some of us are not so good at acting on those thoughts. Owning your design requires you to take a chance and test your theories about what your passions are and those “if..then” statements.
For example, if I open my own physician practice, I will be far happier than working shifts in a hospital. If I start that coffee house business I have been dreaming about for the last ten years; it will be far better than working for someone else and building their dreams.
Designing yourself requires you to take action to validate our perceptions about one’s self.
2. Envision Three Scenarios for your Future
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans suggest that you should consider three ideas for your life before taking the plunge. This action is particularly important if you have several ideas of what it is you want to do. First, you should take action to redesign your career if professional or some part of your life if personal that allows you to experience the things you enjoy most. This action will enable you to determine if your self-assessment is accurate or if you are moving down the wrong path.
Determine Your Alternate Life
Imagine what you would do if your current life or job went away and you could no longer work in the role you have been in for years. Is there a different job you would perform? Think of this as your “ultimate job.” What is the thing you would do that in place of this?
3. Fascination Lifestyle
This final approach is perhaps your most accurate life design. What would you do if you did not have any financial worries? Imagine a world where you did not have to worry about the rent, mortgage, car note, or grocery bill each month. You have all of the money the world. Now what? What is it that you would do to achieve fulfillment.
Once you envision these three scenarios, your goal should be to reach out to someone who is living the life you aspire to live in one of these three areas.
Once you have those discussions or perhaps even experience a day in the life of someone else experiencing your impending design, you have to the option to make one of them your own.
Each of these steps in the Designing Your Life approach will help you to establish your life by your own design and not someone else’s.
Are you wondering why you should design your lifestyle?
I had the most amazing walk today. I saw two alligators and a scarlet tanager apparently they migrate through Florida in October.
I learned this from a bird watcher. Who was happy to share his lovely discovery with me.
Why do I share this with you? This is part of how I have designed my lifestyle. I have designed my life to include a morning walk. Sure there are other ways to get exercise but my favorite is getting outside and enjoying nature. I get my best ideas while walking. What’s your favorite way to exercise?
I am naturally an introvert but many times, I force myself to be more introverted for various reasons. Taking a morning walk helps me wake up and lets me gradually greet people as I do. Like striking up conversation with the bird watcher.
Why Should You Design Your Lifestyle?
Time Magazine reports findings from the Harris Poll, which has conducted happiness surveys for many years, and of the 2202 Americans surveyed in 2017, only 33% said they were happy, in 2016 that number was only 31%.
“Distraction and a lack of control may be part of the reason why only about a third of Americans say they are happy,” says John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Polls.
Choosing to shape your own life, to design your lifestyle the way you want to live, provides you with the power and capacity to achieve your dreams. Deliberately designing and planning your best life means you can carefully choose among the best possible options, you can achieve your dreams, and you have control over what happens to you and what you do in life.
“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” Virginia Woolf
Your Greatest Life Cannot Happen by Accident.
Shaping your life is a process that follows many principles, but ultimately, it is about taking the time to discover what you believe at your core and what you really want to achieve in life, then designing a road map to help you reach all your dreams.
This process guides you through consideration of all the important aspects of life, not just your job or your financial future, and helps you identify all of the many components of a happy, healthy life.
What Science Shows Us
Patrick Hill, an assistant professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, evaluated data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study.
They looked at how more than 6,000 study participants answered questions such as, “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them,” and others that aimed to gauge both negative and positive emotions.
The results showed that fourteen years after the survey questions were answered, those study subjects who reported “a greater sense of purpose and direction in life were more likely to outlive their peers.” In fact, people with a sense of purpose had a 15 percent lower risk of death, compared with those who said they were more or less aimless. And it didn’t seem to matter when people found their direction. It could be in their 20s, 50s or 70s.” Here is the the article People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer
In 1979, Harvard Business School began a study on goal achievement where MBA graduates were asked if they had designed a roadmap for goal achievement by writing down their goals and creating a plan for attaining them.
- Just 3% of the graduating class wrote down their financial goals along with a plan to achieve those goals.
- 13% of the class had written goals but without an action plan to achieve them.
- The remaining 84% of the class had set no specific financial goals or plans.
Fast-forward to 1989, the study subjects were contacted and revealed their progress in life.
- The 13% of the class which had written goals but not developed a roadmap for achieving them were making twice as much money as the 84% group which had no identifiable goals in mind.
- More importantly, the 3% of graduates who wrote down their goals and designed a roadmap were making a staggering 1,000% more money than the 84% group, and 500% more than the 13% segment.
This shows the incredible power of living by design.
When you design your lifestyle, you allow yourself to explore and connect with the many facets of life that bring you joy, meet your needs, and ignite your interests and passions. It is a deliberate and proactive approach to living that places the control firmly in your grasp and allows you to gain everything you want.
Taking Control and Being Proactive
Designing and actively shaping your life is proactive. It means you think ahead, anticipate possible problems, have solutions in mind for when things go wrong, and are in active control of your efforts toward achieving your dreams. It is a take-charge way of approaching existence that allows you to play an active role in how your life unfolds.
Many people choose to play the victim in life. They wait for bad things to happen, then they wonder why there is nothing good in life. Their lives are reactive, always responding to the world around them. And most of these people have very little understanding of what they really want out of life.
Designing your life helps you accept responsibility for yourself and your actions, provides you with a framework for getting to know yourself to determine your beliefs and goals, and gives you the tools you need to succeed in the face of setbacks and failures.
When you shape your existence around your values and dreams, you can live a life of fulfillment and contentment. You can achieve self-actualization and achieve true happiness, as you have the tools to identify what you want as well as the personal strength to achieve them.
A solid life strategy must be based on a foundation of essential elements in order for it to be successful. We’ll next explore these crucial components to help you start your life design journey with the right mindset and commitment.
How to Turn Dreams Into Plans
Are you struggling with how to turn dreams into plans?
It can be difficult to watch the lack of progress of so many promising entrepreneurs. They’ve dreamed for so long about creating a solid, sustainable business, and yet, all they do is dream.
You know the people I’m talking about. They attend conferences, sign up for free webinars, buy paid training, and sometimes even work with a coach or two. And yet week after week, month after month, year after year, they fail to make any progress toward their dreams.
Are they just lazy? No. It’s something worse. They don’t know how to turn dreams into plans and they’re stuck.
Start with Your Big Lofty Goals
If you’ve ever been on a job interview and were asked, “Where do you want to be five years from now,” you might have thought it an odd question. But as a business owner, that might just be the most important consideration you can have.
Without knowing where you’re headed in the long term, it’s impossible to create a map to get there. You need to know what your destination is, so that every day, week, month, and year you can check your progress to be sure you’re still headed in the right direction.
Create Milestones or Milemarkers
Once you know your ultimate destination, you can draft a plan for getting there, and create the mini goals that will help you stay on track.
For example, if in five years you want to be free to travel for 8 weeks every year, then you need to have a few pieces in place before that can happen:
• Enough income to cover travel costs
• Passive income to sustain your business while you’re not working
• A staff who can manage the business while you’re away
With this list, you can then work backwards from your five-year goal, and create milestones along the way. If you know you’ll need to earn $150,000 annually in order to fund your travel plans, and right now you’re earning $60,000, then reasonable milestones might look like this:
• Year 1: $70,000
• Year 2: $85,000
• Year 3: $105,000
• Year 4: $125,000
• Year 5: $150,000
With these milestones in place, it’s much easier to figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve them, by setting monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Plan Short Journeys to Your Big Lofty Goal
The next step to turn dreams into plans is to break your big destination into smaller journeys. If you say to someone, you need to move from $60,000 to $150,000 in five years, that’s a pretty overwhelming task. After all, it’s a $90,000 increase and most people will look at that and immediately dismiss it as impossible.
But when you break it down as we have above, and then again into smaller steps, it suddenly doesn’t look so daunting.
In the first year of the plan we have outlined here, your income needs to increase only by $10,000. That’s less than $1000 per month! Surely that’s easy enough to accomplish!
You can further break that down by week: $1000 per month is just $250 per week. If you sell just one more group coaching package, or five more of a $50 training program, you’ve already reached your milestone.
That might mean sending one more email to your list, or investing an additional $20 per month in Facebook ads, or perhaps reaching out to one more JV partner. The point is, reaching this much smaller goal is far easier than thinking about that five-year plan.
So what’s your big dream? How can you deconstruct it into achievable milestones, workable goals, and finally, daily and weekly tasks? If you can do this (and you definitely can) then you can achieve anything in business and in life.
Do You Have a Growth Mindset?
Want to know what sets the uber-successful apart from the wannabe entrepreneurs?
It’s not money, or brilliant ideas, or even powerful friends.
All of those things (and more) are nice to have, but they’re not a requirement for success. What is a must-have, though, is a good attitude. Without the proper mindset, you’ll constantly be battling your own brain, and that’s exhausting.
- You’ll allow yourself to believe your ideas are no good
- You’ll remain convinced that you aren’t smart enough
- You’ll be certain that someone else did it (whatever “it” is) better
And before you know it, you’ll have talked yourself right out of launching your new program, asking for a JV partnership, or writing your book. In no time at all, you’ll be back at your day job, working away on someone else’s business because you don’t have the confidence to create your own.
But a simple mindset change can make all the difference.
Dress for Success
Ladies, this one is for you. When we work at home, it’s easy to fall into a habit of wearing sweatpants and T-shirts to the office. After all, why dress up just for the dog?
But if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to instantly shift your mindset in the right direction, ditch the yoga pants and break out the lipstick. You’ll suddenly find you feel more professional, more confident, and sexier, too. (That last one won’t help your business, but it might just help your love life, and that can’t hurt, can it?)
Never Let Fear Drive Your Decisions
“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Too many would-be entrepreneurs operate with a scarcity mindset rather than approaching business from a place of abundance. Rather than telling yourself that you can’t afford to hire a virtual assistant or work with a coach, try reframing your thoughts.
Rather than thinking, “I can’t afford to attend that event,” ask yourself, “How can I earn the money to invest in this trip?”
Rather than saying, “I have to do everything myself because I can’t afford to hire a VA,” remind yourself that your hourly rate potential is much more than you’d pay a virtual assistant. Then fill those hours you’re saving by outsourcing with money-making tasks of your own.
By reformatting your thoughts, you’ll turn that negative money talk into positive solutions that help you grow.
Remember this little acronym for FEAR whenever fear is stopping you from taking action:
I am launching a workshop for people who want to start a business called Design a Business You Love.
Check it out.
Wondering how you can test ideas for your product or service?
If there’s one thing that holds promising entrepreneurs back from launching their business, it’s this: a lack of confidence in their products. Sure, you think that new course or workshop is a great idea, but how do you know it will sell?
Everything starts with an idea safety pins, automatic dishwashers, band-aids, even games like Monopoly. Everyday ideas for great products pop into our minds and we probably dismiss them.
But some people take action on those ideas. Imagine spending weeks or even months of time—plus the cost of document design, product development, video editing and all the other pieces that go along with it—only to discover it’s not what your audience wants or needs. How frustrating would that be?
You don’t have to leave it to chance, though. There are plenty of ways to test your idea before spending the time and energy on a full launch.
This is the simplest way to get a feel for what your market needs and wants. Simply ask them. Create a survey with Survey Monkey (or even a Google form) and send it out to your mailing list. For best results, keep it short, but do ask:
- What they’re struggling with
- Their preferred learning method (video, text, audio, etc.)
- What they feel the training is worth (what would they pay)
These three pieces will tell you everything you need to know to create a program that’s practically guaranteed to sell.
Listen to Your Tribe’s Complaints
If you have a community (or are part of one) of ideal clients, pay attention to what they’re asking for the most. These are the things they need help with. For example, if you’re a business coach and your Facebook group is filled with questions about running Facebook ads, then clearly there is a need for some training in that area.
Study Your Competition
Hopefully, you have a list of competitors and you’re reading their blogs and emails, and lurking in their Facebook groups. This is a great way to gain insight into what they’re doing—not to copy them, but to discover what’s hot right now.
Consider buying their paid products as well. Again, you should never copy them, but you can either:
- Promote them as an affiliate
- Create a better, more comprehensive version
- Create a lite, lower-cost version
Creating products in a vacuum is a great way to waste a lot of time and money on programs that won’t sell. Instead, pay attention to what your market is asking for, find out what they’re willing to pay, and delve into your competition’s offers. The information you gain from these three activities alone will give you incredible insight into your market and what they want and need, and make it easy to create your own hot-selling program.
I am launching a workshop for new entrepreneurs called Design a Business You Love.
Please Check it Out.