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Living your life by design, not default

How the stressed-out, over-worked, time-starved individual can begin to take back their lives and live life by design

Sometimes we are so busy, being, "too busy," that we fail take the time to make small changes that could improve our lives immensely.

Are you living your life by design or by default? Did you dream of a different life, but somehow you managed to end up in this life? Maybe you are in a job that runs you ragged or you don’t love it. Maybe you are in a relationship that does not suit you. Maybe you have children that run you down, difficult family relationships or don’t see your friends much.  Maybe you have put on a few extra pounds and can’t seem to make it to the gym anymore.

How does one begin to take back their life and start living their life by design? Simply. You must identify and adapt in order to thrive.

Remember, you are in control. It might not feel like it right now, but you are. You have created this life and lifestyle, even if it was more by default than design. In order to take back your life and start living the life you have always dreamed of, you must begin to get out of default mode. You must become intentional, purposeful, and consistent and learn how to leverage your time and create systems. The key to accomplishing this is to first, identify.

Begin by identifying where you are right now. Break down your major areas of life and simply rate them on a one to ten scale. One being poor and ten being it is exactly where you hoped it would be. Think about career, health, family, romantic relationships, friend relationships, adventure/experiences, your environment or home surroundings, financial wellbeing and so on.

For every area that is not a ten, identify why. What does being a ten look like and feel like on a daily basis?  Understand, that you did not rate it a ten, or even a nine, because your reality is not matching your vision.  Understand your vision more clearly.  Ask yourself, “why?” “Why is this my ideal version of life?” “Does this ideal version, truly match my values?” Is this ideal version something you want because you have been told for so long that this is what it is supposed to look like or is this genuinely how you hope life will be? For example, are you striving to be the working mother version of June Cleaver? Or is your ideal more realistic than that image?

Look deeply and identify the specific aspects of your current daily life that don’t match your ideal version.  This will help you complete the next step; that is to identify ways in which you can get your reality to match your perfect ten.

Identify, things you can do, or not do, every day to act more in alignment with your ideal life.  Just brainstorm and write everything that comes to mind down. Now, pick one or two things you can do, or not do, on a daily basis to act more in alignment with your ideal version of life.

Now that you have identified where you want to be in life and ways in which you can get there, now, you have to you have to actually do it. This will require you to adapt your habits by being intentional, purposeful and consistent.  Pick one or two things off your list and create a plan on how you will apply it to your everyday. For example, ideal you has amazing friend relationships where you spend a lot of time together? If so, maybe you can make sure to call a different friend every day on your lunch break for five minutes to catch up or commit to meeting up with a friend every Saturday morning.  Maybe, ideal you wakes up energized and super joyful and says hello to neighbors and people on the street.  Then maybe you commit to waking up and not uttering a single negative word for the first two hours, saying out loud, “I love my life!” over and over again and you commit to saying, “hello” to five people every morning, no matter what.

To be successful, you must be consistent and track your activity and results. Consistency is the key. If you are inconsistent you will not change your reality. You will not properly develop the new habits required to reach your goal.

Track your activity so you can identify inconsistent behavior.  On a daily basis note whether you made it the first two hours without uttering a single negative word (or did you wake up falling out of bed swearing about how you bumped your head).  Track whether you said, “hello” to five people (or did you not and note why not).  Track whether you spoke to a friend during lunch (or if you did not, why not i.e. had to work through lunch).  This not only helps you to identify any inconsistent behaviors but also, what might be causing the inconsistency so you can tweak it to try and make it work.

Track your results. In order to understand what is truly working you must track your results.  Sometimes, you might not think something is working because it changes gradually, over time. But by tracking it, you can definitely determine if there has been any change.  Since we are dealing with feelings, like how you feel about an area of life, it can get tricky in understanding if a new habit is truly effective.  A simply way to do track your results is to re-rate your areas of life every quarter. 

Understand that to take your life out of default mode takes intention, practice and progress.  Change won’t happen overnight.  Like in the photo above, don’t be so busy running ragged that you don’t take the necessary additional time to make a change that could benefit you.  If this means stopping what you are currently doing so that you can make a real improvement, then do that, no matter how counter-intuitive it feels.

You are learning new skills and changing old, deeply engrained habits. This takes time. This takes practice. Like riding a bike, it may have taken days to learn how, but now it takes the subconscious half a second to get back on and ride.  Your dream life might take months to design, but soon it will be a subconscious action allowing you to live your life by design.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email the author, Kirsten Franklin at [email protected]

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