How to Design Your Life
So you live with intent!
Last night, I had the great honor of attending a workshop sponsored by IVY with Laurie Gerber from Handel Group Life Coaching. Now, I’m one to say that I’ve been very lucky and am quite content with where life has taken me, but needless to say, this workshop was eye-opening.
First, we all went around the room and said why we were there. Some people were there because they wanted to find some direction for their lives, others were there because they didn’t know how to use their time efficiently and felt like they were wasting their lives away, while others, like me, felt like they were fortunate in life, and were scared that one day it would all crumble down around them if they didn’t start taking more control of it.
For most of us, this was the main reason:
We’ve lost control of our lives and we need to figure out how to get it back.
Thus, that’s how we all ended up in this workshop together, not only because we were personal growth junkies, but because we, along with rest of humanity, were seeking for ways to actively “Design Our Lives” so that we could live the life we want and live with intention… not contention… or even worst, frustration.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” ~Henry David Thoreau
So we began the night with our “Design Your Life (TM) Workbook” which listed 12 areas of your life (paraphrased):
- Your Self Personality
- Your Physical Body
- Love Life & Romance
- Personal Spirituality & Beliefs
- Career Path
- Finances & Money
- Time & Productivity
- Home Life
- Family, Parents, Kids, Relatives
- Friends, Past & Present
- Leisure Time, Vacations & Self-Education
- Community Impact & Effectiveness
We went into the idea that TIME, RESISTANCE, & MOTIVATION are actually all made up constructs that the human race invented. For some reason we think they are EXTERNAL forces that we have to deal with and that somehow we aren’t responsible when they interfere with our doing things. They’re fallback blame guys if we don’t achieve the result we want or get the goal we set out to accomplish.
Everyone consciously or unconsciously designs their life.
Our decisions we face every day, no matter how minuscule, add up over time. There was one person in the workshop who said that they no longer had control over what they ate. To which, Laurie scoffed at and responded, “That’s like saying ‘I’ve lost control of my hand’!” and I can’t stop myself from placing this really big fat delicious donut in my mouth!… and that’s why I’m fat!
Be an Author vs. Weather Reporter
Thus, we have to recognize when we’re being authors of our lives or plain old weather reporters. Most of us, without realizing it, report out the weather more often than we would like. Some examples of weather reports are:
- Traffic was horrible today, that’s why I was late.
- Gosh, my boss yelled at me today, they must be in a bad mood.
- My mom called and was her same usual non-supporting self…
Weather reports are not lies, they’re just statements of fact with no feeling or no active participation on our part. In essence, life is happening to us and there’s nothing (seemingly) that we can do about it.
Being an author takes a more passionate, active stance:
- I left early so I could make my meeting and listened to a great podcast while I was in traffic this morning.
- My boss seemed a little aggravated, so I brought him a bagel from the cafeteria and asked if he was feeling OK.
- I called my mom to tell her that I really needed her support over the next couple weeks as I was transitioning to a new project.
The author is in command of the day. They are positive, speak in the PRESENT tense, and take advantage of the skills they have and the resources around them.
So there are 3 steps to becoming an author and beginning the process of designing your life:
1. Articulate Your Dream
We spent the greater part of the workshop actually writing down our “dreams” and you would think that we would all have these things so readily available that we would take 30 seconds and then be done with it. But surprisingly, as we’ve grown up, we actually have started to change our dreams to become just slightly more realistic.
It’s amazing how many of us wrote the words:
I just want to make enough money. I want a house so I can be comfortable or I want to find a good husband so I can be safe. I would love to find balance in my day to do everything. I hope to be able to have kids.
There’s nothing completely wrong with these statements. They’re just masks for the real dreams that we once had as kids.
Ask Yourself WHY
If you say you want to be RICH, ask yourself why, and you’ll actually dig a little deeper behind the thing that adulthood has taught you to pursue. You want to be rich because you actually want the freedom to do whatever you want, or to be able to support your family, or to not have to stress about having a job. You want the choice to be able to work or not. Those are all the real reasons why you would want money. Because we all know we can’t take the money that we earn and bring it with us after we’re dead.
What I Wrote for My Dream
So we were asked to pick a single area, and I focused on “Finances & Money” because that’s an area that I have been ignorant in throughout my life and I want to be able to be smart with. But after erasing, “I want to be a millionaire.” and digging a little bit deeper, I discovered that it wasn’t the money that I wanted, or even a better job, or such, but it was really to:
Have the freedom, the free-time to build something of impact, to dream up things greater than just myself, to write stories that touch people positively. To travel the world and live a life-style full of joy. To inspire others to be the best versions of themselves and to live passionately.
The Goosebump Scale?
After writing our dreams, both the 1st time and the re-write, we were asked to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10.And if you read your dream and only gave it a 5, then you know that you were still kidding yourself and that you really needed to dig deeper and get to the level of feelings and emotions. Once you read it back to yourself, and if you got goosebumps, and rated it an 8 or 9, then you were definitely on the right track.
Lesson: Jump straight to your dream.
We have the tendency to write all the intermediary steps, like: Get a big house, buy a nice car, have a lot of money. But we really forget what the ultimate reason we want all these things. You just have to remind yourself what those dreams were that you had when you were little, or just keep on asking yourself WHY until you reach a real answer.
2. Bust Your Excuses
These are ALL the things holding you back from your dream. The things that you say to yourself to bring yourself back to reality. These include:
- I don’t know anything.
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m poor.
- I’ll never be smart.
- I married the wrong person.
- It’s never going to happen
- It’s not a good idea.
- It’s too hard.
- It’s not going to work.
All of these statements are negative theories that we have of ourselves because our bodies have a strong tendency to avoid discomfort. So any procrastination, excuse, barrier to your dreams, come as a consequence that your mind and body have a strong aversion to being uncomfortable. And any kind of change, no matter how small, causes you pain in subconscious ways.
The 3 Characters of Excuse
There are three different characters that rear their ugly head when you make excuses. You must combat them if you are to succeed:
- Combat your Weather Reporter
- Combat your Brat
- Combat your Chicken
These characters show up when you want to eat your 7th cookie, or when you’re too afraid to talk to someone because they might be mean, or when things just don’t go your way (followed by tears and maybe a pouty face).
We must learn to recognize these characters in ourselves and be aware of how they cause us to react in certain situations.
Motivated by Discomfort
Sigmund Freud is famous for having said something along the lines of, “There are really only two kinds of motivation: Escape from Pain & Pursuit of Pleasure” and if you look around at all the vices of our world, you’ll see why people do the things they do.
A human being will work for their vice.
Anything you fail at or don’t accomplish, you end up talking in the passive voice and blaming it on something else, whereas if you accomplish and win at something, suddenly you’ll talk in an active confident tense.
With this in mind, you start to realize… Am I a Procrastinator vs. I just don’t do what I say I’m going to do. Procrastination is just an excuse for not doing what you say you’re going to do.
3. Keep Your Promises
Self care is not selfish, it’s necessary. I can design my day to work for me. ~Laurie Gerber
This is the last and most important step. This is when you really kick your butt into action. You look at where you want to be ONE YEAR from now. (Human beings really can only conceive of things within a year’s timeframe. We think we can imagine things 5 years out, but we really can’t…)
Once you look at where you want to be, then you write the results you want SIX MONTHS from now because human beings really can’t see change until around the 6 month mark. Anything less than that is actually not a real result or a good indicator.
The most important part of keeping your promises though is defining your CONSEQUENCE if you don’t keep your promise. This can be as simple as donating $5 to a charity everytime you mess up, or taking out the trash for a month, or walking outside for 10 extra minutes. But you have to choose something with a real consequence.
At the end of the day, motivation is just thoughts, you can curate your thoughts and just make them up.
Call to Action
In order to design your life, you have to understand what you NEED. Thus you organize your life around the needs you want to fulfill and find things to satisfy them in healthy ways.
Laurie mentioned that it’s perfectly normal for people to change careers about 7 times in their lives, so transition is perfectly okay to go through. You’re just seeking a good “Quality of Life” with which you’ll be happy with. The journey is where happiness is found, not in the destination.
If you say, “But I don’t know what I want!” Her response is… You actually DO know SOMETHING about what you want, you just need to learn how to articulate it in your first step, bust your excuses in your second step, and keep your promises in your third step. You just need to put in the time and some “Heartwork”!
Keep your personal integrity in your heart, head, and body.
You can’t have everything you want but you CAN have what is most important to you.
Don’t take things personally if you fail. Just keep on experimenting. And slowly but surely, you’ll design the life you want to live.