I imagine myself at 90 years old sitting on my back porch, looking out over the farmland and across to the beautiful apple orchard, hearing the faint, soothing ringing of distant cow bells. As I breathe in the crisp air of the Swiss Alps that I can see in the distance, I notice a smile on my face. A warm, happy, knowing, full grin spread widely across my face. Inside I’m filled with pride, looking back on my full life and whispering to myself ‘you did it.’ I had had the life I wanted to have. I had ‘made it.’
What would it be like if you knew you would look back on your life and feel happy, proud, content, satisfied, and fulfilled? And not only that you “made it” in the end and made a difference in this world, but that you had also enjoyed the ride all along.
That’s what Lifestyle Design can bring you that no other type of coaching can.
Man’s Search for Meaning
We call it different names – finding your passion, finding your purpose, living the life you love, creating a legacy, seeking meaning, or even just seeking work flexibility and work/life balance – but it seems we’re all searching for the same thing: We want lives filled with purpose and meaning. That leaves the big question – how do you create a purposeful, meaningful life? How do you live that life that you love? Many other questions – equally as enigmatic, nebulous, complex, and confusing – arise when trying to answer this. What’s important to me? What fulfills me? What’s my passion?
Why Lifestyle Design is The Starting Point to Finding Your Answers
Lifestyle Design allows you to begin without knowing the answers to any of the questions posed above. Probably 99% of you who are reading this article not only don’t have answers to these questions but also don’t even know where to begin to look for the answers. They’re tricky, philosophical questions that, if you’re anything like me, always seem to get pushed further and further down on the to-do list for when you have a little more time or you’re a little less busy. They’re just such big monsters to try to tackle.
Lifestyle Design provides you with a format for peeling back the layers of the onion and learning answers to these questions — while also allowing you to design actions to include more of what makes you happy into your regular life. Lifestyle Design provides the flexibility for you to stop and start again months or years later, to change as much or as little of your life as you want, and to make the changes as quickly or as slowly as you want. In other words, Lifestyle Design is helpful for you in literally any stage of your life.
What exactly is Lifestyle Design?
At its core, Lifestyle Design is about building a life of your choosing that is purpose-filled and meaningful to you. It’s an iterative process in which you determine what’s most important to you and begin living a life that prioritizes those values.
Lifestyle Design hit the mainstream audience when Tim Ferris’ wildly popular New York Times Best Seller, The 4-Hour Work Week launched in 2007. Ferris preached the benefits of eschewing the traditional life plan (working 40+ hour work weeks with limited vacations, all in the hopes of retiring comfortably) for a more rewarding work and life experience. For him, this meant a location-independent career with limited work hours so you were “free” from the office and “free” from the grueling hours at an office. Your life was yours again! This is certainly one interpretation of lifestyle design and there are many other ways that you could design your life.
Two Stanford professors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, are creating a movement encouraging people to “build well-lived, joyful lives” by thinking like designers to Design Your Life. Designers love to discover problems, find unique perspectives to look at the same problem as everyone else but see it differently, and then seek creative solutions for their newly-defined problem. They make prototypes, test, refine, and repeat. Life is much like a design project: it’s not a problem that has a concrete solution and there is no one right answer. There’s no one ‘right’ way to do life for everyone. There are many millions of possibilities for a life filled with purpose and value, and the best way to figure out your best life is through discovery and experimentation.
Lifestyle Design Makes You More Successful, More Resilient, and Experience Less Stress
Sounds too good to be true? This is one promise you can actually believe. The most common error people make before designing a lifestyle is prioritizing external goals vs. aligning them with their internal values (more on Values in an upcoming blog post). Putting effort into things that society tells us ‘should’ matter or becoming obsessed with the outcome of situations beyond our control leads to disappointment, a sense of failure, dissatisfaction, and eventually a lack of desire to keep trying.
Rather than a life focused on achieving external specific goals, a life lived by design is focused on the journey. This is a truth that I see time and time again with clients: When your motivation stems from a desire for learning and growth, a non-coincidental side effect is that lifestyle designers achieve far more of their external objectives than they ever had before and experience far less stress and anxiety over those outcomes. Part of the beauty of lifestyle design is freeing yourself from those external constraints. By focusing on what is in your power, you are taking back control of your life.
Everything has value in a designed life. Even tasks that are challenging or unpleasant are manageable because you know there’s a higher reason and purpose for doing them. This knowledge helps you when you meet with failure (which you will) because your fulfilling life and mission will provide you the resilience, grit and determination to persevere. You understand that each failure is just a step in the journey towards your ultimate goal: living your dream, fulfilled life. Successful people realize that failures, just like challenges, are opportunities to reassess and reinvent in pursuit of their important, bigger mission. And yes, Lifestyle Design will help you to define your important mission so you’re always motivated.
Is It Hard To Design Your Life?
Yes and No. Yes, it takes some work. No, it’s not the hardest way to live your life: I personally think it’s far harder to live a monotonous, unfulfilling life that feels painfully unsatisfying OR even a life we don’t even recognize as unsatisfying until it has passed. Ask a parent or grandparent if they have any regrets in life – chances are they do, and it has something do to with having not prioritized the right people and the important values in their life. Living a “design” lifestyle can help you to view life as an interesting and exciting challenge. New challenges won’t seem so difficult; instead, they will appear as opportunities to get creative.
How Long Does It Take To Design a Life?
Your whole life! Since there is no one perfect solution to living your best life, there isn’t really an endpoint in design. That’s great news! You will constantly be evolving, growing, learning, building, and experimenting along the way. And you forever have the power and opportunity to build a lifestyle that can keep up with the growing and evolving you.
Feel that too much of your life has passed for you to now decide to design the life of your dreams? Not true. Too young? Nope. You’re never too stuck, too sick, too old, too young, too poor, too rich, too ANYTHING to take control of your life. Literally any life situation can be the starting point for a life of meaning. Lifestyle design is for everyone.
How Do I Get Started Designing My Life?
Get yourself truly committed. Are you here to read about Lifestyle Design as an interesting topic or are you here to change your life? Action is required for change. When you see blog posts with exercises, schedule the time to do them (!!). Here’s a thought experiment for you:
Spend some real time imagining the wrinkly, gray-haired you at 90 years old sitting on a rocking chair on your front porch.
1) If you continue to live your life as you’re currently living it, what will 90-year-old you be proud of? What might he/she have missed out on in this lifetime? What is the general overall feeling you would have about your life when reflecting back on it?
2) Imagine you are the smiling, happy, ultimately fulfilled 90-year-old. What made your life fulfilling? Who was in that life? What risks did you take to ensure you had no regrets? What is the general overall feeling you would have about your life when reflecting back on it?
The answer to these reflections is the starting point for your change.
Lifestyle Design is an on-going practice. I created this blog to help support you in your journey and to provide you with some tools, techniques, exercise, and thoughts that will make the design work a lot easier. I will always provide this information to you for free because my life’s purpose (and what brings me fulfillment) is empowering people like you to prioritize living their purpose and finding meaning in their lives. I’ll be “paid” if, when you’re sitting on your back porch at 90, there’s a knowing grin on your face because you’ve lived your fulfilling life.