4 Skills You Must Develop to Design Your Exceptional Life

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The first act of leadership is self-leadership. You must steward the life that God has given to you.

One of the 6 characteristics of exceptional self-leadership is Life Design. Life Design is about walking with God to ask, “God, what kind of life do You want me to live in the coming months and years?” Just as organizational leaders take responsibility to develop a vision, strategy, goals, and plans for their organization, so you must take responsibility for your vision, strategy, goals, and plans.

If you don’t take responsibility for them, someone else will.

There are 4 skills that you need to continually hone in order to practice exceptional life design.

Envision Your Future

You need a vision of your future self. But not just any vision. You need to embrace God’s vision for your vision.

Regularly walk with God to ask questions like:

  • Who do You want me to become spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically?
  • Who do You want me to spend concentrated relational time with?
  • What are Your financial goals for me / my family?
  • What areas of emotional health do You want me to work on?

As you discover God’s desires for you, walk with God to make a plan to move you in that direction. Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward is an excellent resource to help you envision and plan for your future

Manage Your Time and Energy

Whether you accomplish the visions that God has for you will depend on how you manage your time and how you manage your energy.

Two truths make it necessary for you to manage both your time and energy:

Everything you do takes place in time.
You cannot do anything unless you have the energy to do it.

Managing your time begins by seeking God’s will for how you spend it. Then you organize your life and time around His priorities. There are many excellent resources on time management. Here are a few of my favorites:

But managing your time is only part of the battle. You must also manage your energy. Time is exhaustible. But energy is renewable. It doesn’t matter how much time you have if you feel tired, lethargic, and disengaged.

Energy, if managed well, is renewable. The best work on this that I’ve read is The Power of Full Engagement. The authors guide you to build energizing rituals into your day. These rituals are designed to provide you with physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.

Choose Your Pace of Life

I’ve seen countless leaders (and families) get sucked into the busyness trap. They believe they need to be involved in everything. They wake up early in the morning, immediately start work and they don’t stop moving until they collapse in bed after midnight.

But this is not the pace of life that God designed for humans. He designed you for more than mere productivity. He designed you for relationships. He designed you for rest. He designed you to enjoy life — not simply to endure it.

Life Design means that you intentionally choose the pace of life you want to live. Then you organize your job, volunteer opportunities, relationships, chores, and leisure activities around that pace.

Several years ago, my family chose a pace of life that involved multiple dinners together each week and a lot of family time together during the weekend.
We had to minimize extra-curricular activities that required evening practices and weekend activities.
We asked our kids to minimize extra club memberships.
My wife and I de-committed from several volunteer opportunities.

We created systems to accomplish our household chores more quickly.
And we intentionally started practicing Sabbath.

These actions helped us choose a pace of life that values family, relationships, rest, and leisure. It helps us avoid the busyness trap that plagues so many leaders and families.

Make “No” Your Default

You cannot do everything. If you could, you would be God.

Life Design begins by saying “no” to a thousand good opportunities that you could do -– and many that you would enjoy. Learn to say “yes” to only a few commitments.

It is not easy to say “no.” You have convinced yourself that “yes” should be your default answer. If someone asks you to do something, you automatically say “yes” — unless God Himself speaks audibly from heaven to tell you otherwise.

Exceptional life design makes “no” your default answer. When someone asks you to add another commitment to your schedule, your default answer should be “no.”

You can discern with God whether He wants you to do something. But make the burden of proof rest on “yes.”

Learning to say “no” will be difficult in the beginning. But “no” is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the easier it becomes to use.

The more you say “no,” the more you will be able to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.

You must develop these four skills if you are going to design — and live — an exceptional life with God.

Want more articles like this?

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Question: Which of these four skills do you need to focus on in order to take the next step in designing an exceptional life?