“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
If you read a lot of blogs or are even remotely tech savvy, it’s highly likely you’ve heard the term “lifestyle design.” Perhaps you’re wondering just what the heck it means, and how you can do it, too, just because it sounds so enticing!
In a nutshell, lifestyle design embodies the attempt on your part to design a life of your choosing, whatever that looks like. It’s your life, your plan, and you call the shots.
Just because your parents lived in a small town, got married at 17, and worked a 9–5 for 30 years, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same.
You have choices and, with the growth of the web, your choices have compounded exponentially. You control your life and what happens in it, and, once you realize that fully, you give yourself room to grow, experiment, and begin designing the life of your dreams.
You could almost call it a sort of “movement” as so many folks are jumping on the bandwagon, going location-independent with their businesses, and truly making waves as they fuel their passions.
And if the term lifestyle design throws you off, you might even call it “finding your purpose.”
- Why are you here?
- What do you want to achieve in this world?
- What excites you?
- What do you love to do most?
- Where would you most like to do it?
- Who would you most like to do it with?
- What sort of impact on others do you hope to make doing what you do?
These are all questions a lifestyle designer might ask themselves before embarking on their journey of exploration and adventure.
As humans, we all look for meaning in life, searching constantly for an answer to the “why am I here?” question. We want to know what the point of it all is, and how we can make our time here on this earth amazingly relevant.
Lifestyle designers make it their mission to answer that question fully and live life on purpose, with purpose.
My Personal Story and “Aha” Moment
In 2005, I was a 28 year-old single mother of an 8-year-old daughter and infant daughter. I had almost a decade—a long, boring, arduous decade—of corporate marketing and finance experience.
My passions and hobbies had long ago fallen to the wayside, as I worked my booty off 40–60 hours a week in a job I didn’t like. I believed working long and hard was the only way to provide the lifestyle I wanted for my daughters.
Soon after my second daughter was born, I took the big and scary leap into self-employment hoping to enjoy more flexibility and time with my children.
A few years later, I still found myself over-worked, confused, and unsatisfied. Although I could work when I wanted and where I wanted, and I was spending much more time with my daughters, I was actually working many more hours than I did before I was self-employed.
My laptop was glued to my fingers, even at the dinner table with my daughters.
Something had to change!
I stumbled upon the book The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and it spoke to my soul. As I put the lessons into practice, I noticed an immediate and remarkable change in my happiness, health, and abundance.
That book led me to reading dozens of other books as I dove into learning about numerous personal development concepts such as lifestyle design, mindful living, meditation, intention, and financial freedom.
I experienced the biggest “aha” moment of my life thus far, and I made a pledge to devote my time solely to my daughters, my journey of self-discovery, and designing my lifestyle.
I vowed to never again “work for work’s sake,” but to spend each day following my passions, enjoying each moment, and doing what excites me. That journey led me to becoming a Certified Life Coach and writer.
Ways You Can Begin Designing Your Own Lifestyle
1. Remember that you call the shots.
First of all, it’s important to realize that you have choices. You make the decisions, you call the shots. Make the decision that you want to live a vibrant life and accept the fact that it may look a little different from the status quo. That’s OK—no one wants to be the status quo anyway!
Your life is your own. You are 100 percent unique and talented in your own special way. You have the right to spend your life doing the things you love to do, and experiencing things that bring you massive joy.
You are gifted in a way no one else is—and when it comes down to it, no one else can do what you do, quite like you do it! Take a play from the great Zig Ziglar: “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.”
Those are wise words, and something you should always remember. They help to remind you that you always have choices.
2. Get a little selfish already!
Once you realize you’ve got choices, the next step is to spend a bit of time with yourself and figure out what you want those choices to look like. Create a blueprint that nails down just what you want your life to look like.
Maybe you have a love of music and travel, and you want to design a lifestyle that embodies those things.
Perhaps you love deep sea fishing, and you want to design a lifestyle around that. Sit down, do some good, hard soul searching, and figure out exactly what you really want your time on this earth to look like. Even go so far as to decide what you hope others will say about you someday when you’re gone.
Do you want folks to appreciate all your awards and achievements, or do you want your death to be memorialized by people who talk about all your experiences and adventures, the way that you loved others, and just how darn helpful and kind you were?
3. Embrace change and just do it.
Once you’ve nailed down what you want your life to look like, it’s time to just do it. Take action and start making the life of your dreams a reality. Change is scary, but this should be scary in a very good, exhilarating way.
“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”
Start small if you need to and just make minor changes to your life’s blueprint at first. The point is to just start making things happen. As you gain momentum, you’ll begin to experience bigger and bigger changes and growth in your life, and, as a result, growth in your happiness.
Step out on faith, embrace that which you’re passionate about, and get started on your amazing journey designing a lifestyle that reflects you perfectly. You alone are the captain of this particular ship, my friend!
As a 20-something I spend time imaging the life I want. One day I’ll be able to afford a spacious loft in the city with outdoor space and huge windows overlooking the park. One day I’ll meet the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life with, and we will create a family. One day an editor from a renowned publication will call me and offer me a dream job. The way I think about these things mirrors a fairy-tale; they will happen to me at some point in the future, I just have to wait patiently for them to occur.
But Karen Mason Riss, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Memphis, Tennessee whom I call my trusted advisor, corrects my thinking. “Most people think they are discovering their lives: they pray, they hope something good will happen. But what I think, what I say, what I do, creates my reality,” she says. “We are creative beings, not discovery beings.”
What Riss believes – and I agree with whole-heartedly – is that we have a say in what happens to us. By transforming our thinking, and therefore our actions, we can create opportunities for ourselves and change our own lives without waiting for outside forces to take hold.
She gives the example of college. When you grow up knowing you will go to college, believing that when it is your time to roam a college campus you will, you take actions. You work hard in school, complete all the right tests, visit various campuses, and send in your applications. It is this firm belief – you are college bound – that allows you to make this vision into reality. And that model can be applied to any dream you may have. Make sense? Here are the steps to using your thoughts to creating the life you want.
Step One: See yourself how you want to be.
Riss believes the first step in getting what you want in life is to envision yourself already there. “If I can’t see it, I can’t create it,” she says. “If I can’t see me as a writer, I can’t create me getting work as a writer, because I don’t really believe in it.” If you want to lose weight put up a picture in your home of a time you were skinnier and look at it every day. If you want to be in a relationship spend five minutes a day imagining what that would look like – close your eyes and see yourself walking down the street with someone holding hands or talking about your days over dinner. And don’t think about these things in terms of what you want. Tell yourself you already have them, you are already there: “I am skinny,” “I am in a loving relationship” “I am a successful writer.” These thoughts, this vision of you exactly as you want to be, will serve as your compass on the road ahead.
Step two: Start looking at ways you are already there.
Because this entire process relies on you believing you can get where you want to go – your goals have to seem inevitable – you have to boost your confidence early on. So the next step to take, says Riss, is recognizing the ways you are already on your way. As Riss says, you have to think “what are the things I already bring to the table?” Maybe I don’t live in a spacious loft yet, but I live in my own apartment in a gorgeous neighborhood. I don’t have a partner, but I am working on strengthening the relationships I already have with friends and family so I am learning about relating to others. If you want to be skinnier, maybe you already think more about what you eat than you used to? This is about positive thinking: You are on the path and making progress.
Step three: Change some of your moves
The next step is to look at some of the moves you are making in life and see if they need changing. It’s like applying to college. You are definitely going to college, but maybe you need a better grade in chemistry to get into the school you want or maybe you need to study for the SAT a little differently to get a higher score. So if you want to lose weight – which you are definitely going to do – maybe your diet isn’t working. Try another one! Or when searching for a partner, maybe you need to change what you are looking for in a mate or put yourself out there through other venues? The idea is to measure your actions against your vision and seeing if they are helping you get there.
Step four: Strengthen your vision every day.
Getting the life you want is hard. Really hard. We have habits and thoughts that can pull us down or prevent us from getting where we want to go. So we need to stay true to our vision and keep strengthening it over and over to keep it alive when things don’t go our way. However you hold onto your dreams – by journaling or looking at a picture or spending five minutes seeing yourself as you want to be – do it every day. And then when you experience bumps, you won’t lose it, knowing that you will definitely get there at the end of the day. As Riss says, “It’s like ok, I’m not going to this college, but I’m going to this one. Or I didn’t get this job but there is a job behind it.”
And what is behind this process is believing, again and again, every day, that you are a creative being, that you can will the life you want into being and make it a reality. I’m going to repeat what Riss says: “What I think, what I say, what I do, that is my reality.” Take control!