The Art of Living Deliberately and Designing Your Life

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A disciplined pursuit of less, known in some circles as Minimalism seems to hold great potential for adding more meaning to our lives. Of course, this flies in the face of nearly all of our social programming. But with fewer things, we make room for more experiences.

Accumulation is a never ending cycle that in the words of Fight Club author Chuck Phalanik keeps you “buying shit you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.” We can expand through accumulation or we can expand intellectually, emotionally and through life experience. All you’ll be able to take with you when you die are the connections you made, the stories you lived and the memories you formed.

As Sherry McConkey said in this beautiful TEDx talk (linked below): you have one life, live it:

Own Less But Higher Quality Things That You Absolutely Love

If you walk through any neighborhood in suburban America you’ll see garages full of shit that people haven’t used in years and have no intention of ever using. It’s almost all just sitting there collecting dust. When I asked my dad about our own garage and said “what is all this stuff?”, he just laughed because I’m quite sure even he doesn’t know what a good amount of it is. It’s just been accumulated over the course of 15 years living in the house.

My friend Charmaine Haworth has a simple but profound filter for making purchases. “If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t buy it.” And as a result, she’s masterful at designing environments that people fall in love with. We can apply this philosophy to our home furnishings, our clothing and just about any other material possession. One really nice dress shirt that you love so much you’ll wear it every week beats the hell out of 10 crappy ones that never see the light of day.

Start by Changing One Small Thing

Start by making a list of everything you need that actually adds value to your life. What you’ll be amazed by is how short that list actually is, even if it includes a few luxuries (i.e. espresso machines, surfboards, snowboard, and flat screen TV’s). When I made my list it came to about 50 things

By changing one small thing, we teach ourselves that we have control over our environment. We realize that we do have the power to shape some aspect of our reality. This could be something as simple as getting rid of or donating a book of piece of clothing you don’t like

Make Everything a Deliberate Choice that Adds Value to Your Life

How many things in your physical environment are there because you put them there? And how many are there because they’ve just been accumulated over the years.

  • Every book you own should be there because you want it to be
  • Every newsletter in your inbox, podcast your subscribe to, every connection on Facebook, and app on your phone should be there because you want it to be
  • Everything in your closet should be something you absolutely love

By making everything in your environment a deliberate choice that adds value to your life, you gradually design an environment that is conducive to becoming the person you want to become.

Choose the people you spend your time with, what you spend your money on, and if you’re fortunate enough the work you do deliberately. And you don’t have the luxury of choosing your work deliberately, spend the first hour of your day on something meaningful. Designing your life starts with designing your days. When we start living deliberately in small ways we open up the possibility of doing so in much bigger ways.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.


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