There are four keys to designing a fulfilling life.
- Responsibility – You alone are responsible for creating the life you want.
- Life-Long Learning – Creating the life you want is a lifelong pursuit.
- Awareness – Self-reflection is key to understanding the life you want.
- Journaling – Journaling is a key activity that captures the knowledge and wisdom you need for creating the life you want.
Life Design Key #1: Responsibility
The first key to creating and living a designed life is responsibility. You are responsible for designing your dream life and putting in the work to make it a reality.
You need to make intelligent choices of how to spend your time.
The responsibility for our careers and our lives is ours, we can no longer rely on society to look after us. We need to take that responsibility to design a life that works for us
But take heart, the rapid change in society also brings an abundance of opportunity.
The one thing you have control over in that future is you.
There are endless choices vying for your time. Most of these choices give a short-term payback but no long-term payback. Binge-watching Game of Thrones is fun while it lasts, but will it affect your life five years down the line?
I believe that taking responsibility for our lives, finding our purpose, and continuously defining/refining and creating a life around that purpose is the future direction of our lives.
In our world of instant connection, social media, and accelerating change, those who take on that responsibility will flourish in the new economy and have the greatest impact on the world.
A secondary part of taking responsibility is realizing part of our purpose in life is to create value for the world. I believe that everyone’s universal purpose is to create value for society. We all have a unique set of DNA, and life experiences and that combination is uniquely able to create value that no one else can. It is our overall purpose to find what that value is and then to pursue creating that value to the best of our ability.
First, what is value?
The Collins dictionary defines value as:
“the desirability of a thing, often in respect of some property such as usefulness or exchangeability; worth, merit, or importance”
Everything you do in life has an element of consuming value and of creating value. We need to create a balance in life so that we are creating more value than what we consume. If we consume more value than we create then society will regress.
“It is in fact the height of selfishness to merely consume what others create and to retreat into a shell of limited goals and immediate pleasures.” – Robert Greene
The biggest lessons I learned during my career as a business analyst were around value and the different perceptions of value. What was valuable to a business as a whole may not be valuable to the front-of-the-line person. What seemingly has little value for a business today has a large payback in the future.
In a similar way, we need to create a life that effectively maximizes the value that we create.
Life Design Key #2: Lifelong Learning
The second key to creating and living a designed life is lifelong learning. It is critical that you learn new skills, new ways of doing things. Most importantly, continually learn who you are and what you are capable of.
“The key to success is dedication to life-long learning.” – Steven Covey
Your life is your masterpiece, a singular work of art that only you can create.
The creation of that masterpiece is a lifelong process. As you design and achieve your next level of life, you will discover that there is always another level to be achieved. All the parts of your creation can be refined during your journey through life.
Learning is also a key to flow which is a key to happiness. Investing time in learning topics that interest us creates motivation to learn more. Eventually, the learning will build on itself to create something new or reveal a new path.
Life Design Key #3: Awareness
The third key to creating and living a designed life is awareness. Awareness of who you are, awareness of your purpose, awareness of how you interact with the world, and awareness of how the world is changing. New opportunities continue to come, but we need awareness to recognize them.
The combination of that awareness and the clarity of your life design will bring amazing results.
You need to record your thoughts and your experiences over time to learn from them. Otherwise, you keep going back to the start. You keep on redoing lessons … never learning from past lessons.
Your life design requires you to understand yourself and your opportunities.
“In the future, the great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle these complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them — those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.” – Robert Greene
Life Design Key #4: Journaling
Journaling is a keystone habit that fosters living a responsible life, builds awareness, and provides a structure for lifelong learning.
By journaling your ongoing practice of defining, and refining your life design you will build awareness in your life. Life design is a process that starts at a young age and continues until the day you die. It becomes a part of who you are – you are constantly working at becoming a better person living a better life. That focus brings awareness to who we are, how we fit in the world, and the legacy we want to leave behind.
Journaling your life design and how you are making your life design a reality is key to taking responsibility for your life. You have a documented source of what you want and how you are going about achieving it. On your journey, what you focus on in your life design changes. Journaling keeps all your wisdom about your aim, who you are, and your ongoing plan. As your focus shifts from one area to another, you can quickly get up to speed based on the information you have journaled so far.
There are times on your journey when you will pick up wisdom, knowledge, and insight that is important, but not important to what you are currently working on. Keeping this information in your journal, organized according to the life design framework, makes that information available when it is required.
The additional benefit of journaling is the clarity that results from writing experiences, reflections, thoughts, and ideas down. Putting thoughts from your head into your journal gives them substance. Once journaled, your thoughts and ideas can be objectively looked at. It is sometimes surprising the difference in your reaction to an experience or a thought when you read it, rather than think about it in your head.
Living Your Life Design
By incorporating the four keys for designing a life, you will be effective at designing a life and doing the work required to make that life a reality. It takes work and the four keys help to ensure that the work is focused and effective.