Live Your Life By Design, Not By Default

Moving from where you are now, to the vision of the life you want, could become more effortless than you think.

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A few months ago I was in Paris attending a writers retreat held on the outskirts of where I was staying.

Being slightly paranoid about arriving late on my first day of the retreat, I decided to walk the route by foot the day before. I figured it would save time if I became familiar with the route.

Except I spent a good few hours walking around in circles, completely lost and disorientated. The 20-minute walk Google maps had promised, seemed like an eternity and impossible to achieve. It took me over 3 hours to find my way back to the hotel. without even finding the location I was looking for.

Downcast, after my trial run, I considered taking a taxi the next day. But I arose resolute and determined to make it in the 20 minutes specified by Google. This had also been confirmed by every Parisian taxi driver I spoke to (in my terrible French).

I decided to navigate towards the destination differently by listening to the precise instructions to get me from where I was standing (at the hotel) to where I wanted to be (the retreat).

I arrived at my destination exactly 22 minutes later.

So what was different?

A day earlier, I had attempted to follow the route but became distracted with street acts punctuating the streets and other multiple distractions scattered around the majestic Notre Dame area.

No wonder I had got lost.

In my second attempt, I chose to close off all distractions and follow the route as was instructed, with no stopping, wandering or distracting myself

I walked from where I was, to where I wanted to be, effortlessly.

The experience made me wonder how often we really mean to get somewhere in life, but the number of detours we take throw us off track.

If we could close off all that gets in the way, the journey from where we are now, to the vision of the life we want, could become more effortless than we think.

More importantly, I would probably be out of business.

Who would need a life coach, if there wasn’t a need to keep you on track when you veer off course?

Some clients I’ve had in the past, attend coaching to optimise their life and have a schedule and plan for how to do so, but also a multitude of things getting in the way. They also have no desire to do what needs to be done to follow the direction that best serves them, so they wait and see what shows up.

In my experience, living life in this way is what I call;

A default life.

If I would sit on a boat unanchored, without paddling towards any direction, eventually the boat would drift off and end up moored somewhere, anywhere. who cares where.

That’s what a default life is.

You wake up one morning and realise that you’ve been moored in the wrong dock. but now you have no idea how to paddle back to base because you’re so far from where you started that the thought is overwhelming. In fact, you’re so far off, that you’ve no idea what you really started off wanting in the first place.

I’m not a fan of huge plans, structures or goals. A vision board is a great fun thing to do, but a desire, followed by purposeful action, is what creates the vision board to come to life. Not just cutting out cute pictures of holiday destinations and expensive gadgets from magazines which get stuck on a large cork board as a way of manifesting good vibes.

Whether you’re externally successful or not is irrelevant. Sometimes the place you wants to arrive at is joy, simplicity, and calm. Nothing more complex than this.

I worked with a client who was externally successful, had more clients than he could serve, and a business that was rapidly ascending. It looked like he had it all. But what he wanted to create was fun in his day. He was so busy that he had forgotten to truly enjoy life.

Sometimes we just crave the simplicity we had before life became manic. Design this into your life if that’s what you need.

Reflect on what gets in the way of this.

If it’s something you want to create that’s far bigger than this, then that’s great too.

I had a client last year who was overwhelmed with work commitments, unfocused, without any clarity of where he was moving towards and no real understanding of where he was going. At the mercy of whatever life would hand him. He knew he wanted coaching but wasn’t clear what he wanted to aim for.

I asked him;

“Imagine you’re 90 years old and you’re reflecting back on your life, what would you like to have created?”

He had never thought about this before. After a few moments silence, he quietly said that he wanted to return to Cape Town to live there permanently. He also wanted to get married, have children, invest in a property in the UK and become involved in giving back to the community.

This was the premise we worked on. No distractions.

Within eight weeks he had bought his first investment property in London and had already begun to apply for jobs in Cape Town. He was offered a great position after barely a few months into our work together. He was already moving towards the future he wanted to create, as I watched in admiration.

There is more value in leading a life that’s backed by design, rather than being blown out to wherever the wind takes us. And yes, our personal life can get in the way. Divorce, bereavement, money problems, redundancy, can all impact massively. But check out all those who experienced these but still stayed fixated on what they wanted to create, and achieved it.

Examine the habits of those people we look up to and admire. What is it about them that is capable of expanding and creating the impossible? It seems as if their strong commitment doesn’t waiver dependent on external circumstances or setbacks.

In the same way, my car satnav will reroute and take a different journey when there is heavy traffic, it still takes me to the same destination, rather than giving up on the journey altogether.

Waking up each morning asking what you want to create is a great start to leading a life you design.

No huge changes required, just a simple, focused question.

Mornings are the most creative time of the day and are charged with potential, Use this time wisely. Once you know what you want, you can shut off what gets in the way of this.

Those you love will eventually thank you for it, when you shift from bored, uninspired and despondent, to feeling alive purposeful and charged with an intention for your day. Everyone will want a taste of what you have. And not having time, is not an excuse, if you cut out time spent engaged in other pursuits, it can be done. Remember that busyness is a choice.

There are two words in the dictionary that can take you closer or further away from a life you design.

The words are ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’

Ask yourself before you get involved in any activity a very basic question.

Is saying yes to what I’m being asked taking me one step closer or one step further away from what I want?

By the same token, the word No can be life-changing. In a good way. This isn’t selfish, brutal or self-centred. It’s just being more conscious of where your energy is being spent. You will live with far less resentment and more honesty. You’ll also step out of the people-pleasing that is so insidious in our society. In fact, this will free you up to have more time to do selfless work and volunteer more to charities, becoming more involved in something you really care about.

Life is created by the choices you make each and every moment. Choose wisely.

If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.

If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, I would love to hear from you.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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