How to Live the Life You Want (My Personal Take Designing Your Own Life)
To live the life we desire.
It should be the standard for everyone.
Anything else is just plain stupid, isn’t it? Yet somehow very few people truly live the life they want.
Why is that?
One of the key issues is that we let life take control. Things happen to us, our emotions tells us something and we simply obey without reflecting on where we are going.
We tag along while life happens. And the life happening is most likely not the one we most desire.
If you want a better life you need to take control instead of drifting through it.
Design your own life
Embrace that if you want to have a say in where your life is heading, you need to take full control of it.
You need to deliberately design your life.
Otherwise, you are just drifting through life and you will have little to no control over where you are going.
You may have dreams that you are chasing, but if you do not construct your environment and your life to support those dreams, they are never going to become reality.
Here are 5 rules you need to follow if you want to live by design:
1) Know what you want out of life
Before you can take any action, you need to know what you want from life.
This will require reflection.
What are your dreams and ambitions?
I believe finding your purpose in life is an ongoing journey. It may change as you move through life.
Your dreams and goals will too.
Right now you need to dig deep and reflect on what you want to achieve in the years to come.
Knowing what you want in life is about the big questions. Things like relationships, health, work, and possessions.
But these questions also translates to smaller things in your everyday life.
Wanting better health is not something you work on once or twice a month. It is something you work every minute, every second of your life.
2) Set attainable goals that excite you
I’m no expert at decoding dreams, finding your purpose or setting concrete goals for it.
Certainly not when it comes to these things in your life.
You are the expert there.
However, I want to give you one piece of advice that has helped me a great deal: when you are setting goals (which you absolutely should), make sure the goals excite you.
This may seem trivial, but I’ve found that if I do not make sure of this, I may end up setting arbitrary goals just because these are the goals I think I’m supposed to set.
Don’t ever do what you are supposed to do. Do what you want to do.
Let me give you an example.
At the start of this year, I created three goals for myself to achieve in 2018.
The first goal is about personal development, the second about my work, and the third about my online journey.
But I made a mistake with the third goal. I set a results-oriented goal.
Results-oriented goals are “make this amount of money” or “get this many visitors”.
A results-oriented goal has issues already due to the nature of results. You are not entirely in control of them.
I fact, you may have very little control over the results your actions produce. By setting a results-oriented goal you are betting on luck to be in your favor.
If you know your numbers well and you have stable results going years back, setting a results-oriented goal may be fine.
Big businesses all have yearly and quarterly sales goals.
But if you are a small website with just a few years of turbulent results, a result-oriented goal is just madness.
I made this mistake because I thought I was supposed to set a goal like that.
Aim high and work hard to achieve the results.
Twenty days into the year I could already feel this was not a good goal.
I was nervous about my results, knowing how little I’m in control of them I just didn’t like thinking about my goal.
It definitely didn’t excite me.
And so there was my issue.
I needed a goal that excited me or else I would end up worrying about this goal for the rest of the year. Worrying about an arbitrary goal for results I ultimately had very little control over.
As you can imagine, this goal has now been changed.
I changed it so I do not rely as much on my results, but more on the work I’m in control of.
I’m now excited.
3) Set time aside for the important things
You have a clear goal for what you want out of life.
Now the first step is making time for working on that goal.
Even if you have no clue what to use that time on. You will figure it out along the way.
In order to take (or regain) control of your life, you need to start controlling what you spend your time on.
As the saying goes:
How you spend your time is how you spend your life.
Do you deliberately set aside energy and time to focus on your goals? If not, the daily grind is never going to become a habit.
Do you want to become a writer? Set time aside to write. Every day.
Do you want to have a thriving website? Set time aside to work on it. Every day.
Do you want to spend more time with your family or friends? Set time aside for them. Every day.
Do you want to play more video games? Do it, and make sure you set aside the time.
If you do not deliberately set time aside for what you deem important, other people and your bad habits will make the choice for you.
You will begin to drift again.
If you are living your life following what other people deem important you will never have time for what you really want to work on.
There are always things you need to do if you are living according to other people’s expectations. And it if it not other people that are draining your time, it will be your current habits.
Where you are right now is the result of your current values and habits.
If you are not happy with the result, you need to change something.
Even if you are happy with your current situation, improving it further also means growing out of your established self.
Where this may get tough is when you realize that this means giving up things in your current life that you enjoy.
There’s no way around it.
If you want to reach your goals, you need to give something in return.
Luckily, most of us have plenty of bad habits that are wasting our time and energy. Get rid of some of them.
How fulfilling is binge watching tv series or mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds really?
If you truly want these things in your life, great, make time for them.
But if these things do not align with your goals, you need to take a look at them to see if it is time for a change.
4) Create an environment that supports you
Work on your goal until you reach it.
It is simple to spell out, but harder to make happen.
I’ve witnessed myself fail to do this plenty of times by now.
If I do not set up up a clear structure for when I work on my projects, they are not going to get done.
Design your environment to support the life you want.
You cannot rely on sheer willpower to get you through the daily grind.
For a couple of days or weeks this may work, but living your life by design is not a sprint. It is a marathon. And running a marathon requires support and systems to help you get through it.
It requires training too.
One of the things that has helped me tremendously is a better morning routine.
I work best the first few hours after waking up, but for the longest time, I didn’t do anything to maximize this potential.
I had no morning routine. Not even a set time for waking up. I was simply drifting through the weekdays.
This meant that the output of my days was random.
If I felt good in the morning, it would get started working and that would usually start an upward spiral that took me through the day. But on bad days the spiral would go the other way.
The first few hours of the day have a huge impact on the rest of your day.
I believe this is true for everybody. So why leave that up to chance?
I have changed my morning routine to be much more strict and it works wonders.
There are still mornings where I just want roll back in bed. But if I just fight this urge until the coffee kicks in, I will get started working and the joy of having a good morning will carry me through most of the day.
I’m terrible at getting up in the morning, which is why this is a great improvement for me.
I’ve pretty much gone through five years at uni without a daily routine.
Lots of bad habits to kick.
For you, it will be something else. Something in your environment and daily habits that is holding you back from reaching your goals.
The first step is figuring out what that is and how you can change it.
After this, you need to take a look at your environment and see how you can design it to support this change.
If you don’t change your environment, it will be difficult to change your habits. It will be too easy to slip back into your old ways of doing things.
5) Be around the right people
People can have even greater positive or negative effect on you then the rest of your environment.
Being around energy vampires will stop you in your tracks even before you attempt to take control of your life.
You need energy. Lots of it.
To change bad habits and build new ones is hard, and if you are surrounded by people who require your energy instead of giving it, you may have to make some changes.
On the flip side, being around people who support your goals and who are on the same side as you can make can have a huge positive impact.
This may be the most impactful element when it comes to your chances of success.
Be around the right people and you are much more likely to succeed changing your life.
Unfortunately, life is rarely as black and white as just described.
There may be good friends or family members that disapprove of your life changes.
You may love these people and they may love you, but if they are standing in the way of the life you desire, you need to find a way around this challenge.
You may have to tell them that you are determined to make this change, and if they can’t accept it, you will have to let them go for the time being.
We all have different paths to walk in life, and maybe this is the crossroads.
More likely, they will come to their senses and accept your decision if they value your friendship. It may not happen immediately though.
Letting go of the people you surround yourself with is a difficult challenge.
But if you want to take control of your life, if you want to design the life you desire instead of letting life design who you are, you need to take control of this part too.
Live by design
Taking control of your life is no easy task. But I believe it is required to live the life you want.
You may have been floating around for so long you have no idea how you got to where you are now or how to ever get back on track.
Your goals may be so far away you can’t even imagine where to start.
But you are stronger than you may realize. You can do it. Once you experience the exhilarating feeling of being in control, you’ll question why you drifted for so long.
Take one small step at a time and you will slowly, but surely, regain control.
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