How to Design a Life You Love
One of my favorite topics of all times is living life on purpose. But, truth be told, it’s a bit ironic for me to write this post telling you how to design a life you love when I spent most of my own life trying desperately to figure out my passions and what God has called me to do. It was very hard to drill down into what I loved and how to best package it for success.
After spending some years as consultant and not utilizing my unique talents and gifts, I finally had enough. Enough of living vicariously thru others that I admired, whether live and in person or virtually. Enough of me being miserable and feeling stuck all the time. Enough pretending that I was happy when I really wasn’t. Enough of not living my best life. I felt deceptive. Disappointed and disenchanted with who I had become, I wanted to live a life I loved but didn’t have the first idea what that meant. Deep down I feared that whatever it was, I had to chase it down and make it happen.
I’d been there before. Perpetually not enough. But something was different this time. In spite of my fear, I was willing to lose everything to discover who I was and become her. Even if that was a drastic departure from my present situation. Even if it seemed crazy, I wanted to live a life I truly loved.
Do you want to design a life you love? While most of us say it, and many of us make every effort to have it, it’s the reality of doing it that’s so hard. We can live a good life, but staring at a calendar trying to balance work, home, children, marriage, exercise, dinner, friendships, community commitments, and laundry, is there room for love?
Can you actually create a life you love?
Absolutely! I believe you can. Here’s the skinny: it won’t happen by chance nor overnight. And it won’t feel all warm and fuzzy all the time. Designing a life you love doesn’t require a lot of money, a personal chef or a full-time nanny. One need only to look at the latest magazines to see that often the opposite is true.
The biggest, most powerful step to designing a life you love is action. “The distance between dreams and reality is called action.” You’ve got to put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got to move. You’ve got to say yes. You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to believe in yourself more than your doubts and fears, and you have to actually get to know YOU. Designing a life you love requires you to be true to yourself. It’s called authenticity. Not easy, I know. It’s why I think being our best selves is our life’s work.
To design anything, one must take into consideration a number of factors. The same is true of your life. To be completely honest, I fumbled through this quite disastrously and only discovered the process looking back. But as hard, embarrassing and painful as it felt at times, it got me there. Here. And while I don’t know exactly where that is, I know it’s different than anywhere I’ve been before and that it feels amazing, free and totally me. And I love it. I’m hoping that maybe, somehow, this process might also help you.
If you want to design a life you love, you must process through four main areas of your life with transparency. Your:
PAST – EXPERIENCE & WISDOM:
Look back on your past experiences and write down some of the most life-changing, transformational and challenging moments or memories in your life. Include moments of success, failure, joy, sorrow, happiness and pain. With each experience, write down lessons learned and the wisdom you now carry. Don’t look back and get stuck. Remember: your past is a powerful tool. So many times we want to leave our past completely behind. This can be a mistake. Perhaps you’re embarrassed, ashamed or simply want to be totally different from who you once were, I get it, but don’t throw away your experiences. Uncover, process and accept your whole story so you can harness it to propel you into your future. There’s beauty in the details.
PRESENT – PRESENCE & PASSION:
What makes you feel present, alive, angry, energetic, focused, grateful or sad? Your emotions are powerful indicators of the places where your heart beats strong. You have a perfect guide and chances are you’ve heard the whispers or felt the nervous pounding in your heart before. Listen to the still small voice inside you. No matter where you are, you have the power to write a better story. Being alive and awake in your present day, paying attention to what you think, feel, and know deep in your bones – helps you discover some of the things you need to incorporate or eliminate to design a life you love.
POSSIBILITY – VISION & DREAMS:
What inspires you? What magazines or books do you read? What writer, actor, actress, song, place, blogs, color or activity activates your sense of passion and drive? Every one of those things is trying to teach you something about who you are, how you’re wired and how you can design a life you love. Use those words, role models and elements to create a vision board for where you’re going. Surround yourself with thoughts and images that inspire you to reach forward, to pursue growth and transformation into the whole person you were created to be. When you set your sights ahead with a vision in mind, even if you don’t know exactly what it means or where it’s going, you will inevitably start moving in that direction.
POWER – PLAN & PURPOSE:
Once you’ve processed these four areas on paper, look for connections. Circle recurring themes you see in multiple categories. Draw thread lines where, for example, one past experience led to a present passion. Begin to explore the uniquely beautiful landscape of your life where no experience, pain, joy or passion is wasted. Follow the guide inside, that still small voice who whispers to the deep places of your soul; ignites your heart to beat out of your chest or brings goose bumps to your flesh. It knows the way. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It simply means you’ve started the beautiful life-long work of living with your whole heart. If you want to design a life you love, the meaning has to go deep. It must have action. It must honor YOU. It must love others. Grab a sheet of paper and write some notes in each of these four areas. Connect the threads.
Remember: A life you love honors all of who you are. If you honestly think about your past, present, and possibilities you will be on track to fulfilling your destiny. When that is coupled with a plan, purpose and power greater than yourself, you’ll have the unique recipe for designing a life you love. Again, it requires true transparency. To know yourself is worth the work that you will put into it and the sacrifices you will make. The old adage of you only live once is fitting and you should make the best of it now. So let go of your fears, your not-enoughs, your impersonator life, and do the work; listen to that still small voice inside you and create one of your own. You can do it. You can design a life you love!