Do you love your life? Chances are, there are areas of your life you love and others where you could improve. These feelings are true for most of us.
If you want a life you love from 360 degrees, it’s possible! It’s all about taking the time to design your life.
Now, the idea of designing your life may sound strange at first. After all, we can’t control our fate or destiny, right? No, but we can control our attitude and perception.
Research shows everyone has a happiness set point. Whether we go through bad times or good times, we return to our normal happiness levels after a certain amount of time. So, if you want more satisfaction, here’s how to design your life to increase your positive outlook!
1. Choose a Path with Purpose
People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, healthier, and more satisfying lives. Studies show having a sense of purpose counteracts the effects of aging, including memory loss and dementia!
Even if you’re not worried about aging yet, finding a sense of purpose and meaning brings more satisfaction into our daily lives.
How are you making the world a better place? What are you doing in your life to bring a sense of purpose?
It’s important not to narrow your focus too much. For example, many people find a sense of purpose from parenting or from satisfying relationships. While these are important ways to bring purpose and meaning into your life, you should design your life, so it’s satisfying from all areas.
2. Love What You do
No matter how simply you choose to live, chances are you still need to find a way to generate income. It’s essential to find satisfying work, so don’t rely on the idea that there’s only ONE job out there for you.
When you design your life, your work should be a significant area of focus. After all, you will spend up to a third of your life working! That’s a lot of time to spend on an activity, so choose something you enjoy.
Think about what kind of job you would feel satisfied doing. Thinking about job satisfaction doesn’t always mean making a career change (most of us don’t have the luxury). Think of how you will create and stimulate your passion for the job you have now.
Finding your passion may mean arranging your day to tackle the most challenging tasks first. It could also mean tackling the most manageable tasks first and then moving on to the hard stuff. Play around with the idea of your ideal career.
- What qualities does your ideal job feature?
- Could you find those qualities in your current job?
- What small adjustments could you make today (more training, new tasks) to prepare you for your dream job?
Remember, the perfect job doesn’t exist. Every career has challenges. Focus on enhancing the positive aspects of the job you have or moving your trajectory toward a position that embodies the qualities you’re seeking. Find ways to sync your passion and your career.
3. Change What You Can
We only get one life. For many of us, it’s between 60-80 years. Some get more years, and some get less. It’s essential to design your life in a way to fill you with satisfaction.
Don’t fear reinvention or redirection. There are plenty of times in life when we face unforeseen changes and must adjust our course. Look back at the challenges you’ve met. Chances are high you’ve survived every single one of your bad days so far.
There are many times when people stay on the same, unsatisfying path because they’re afraid of failing or facing the unknown. If you’re considering a leap (or even a slight turn in a new direction), ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?
Sometimes playing out the worst-case scenario helps us laugh and realize how unfounded our fears are.
For example, “I’m afraid if I apply for a promotion at work, I won’t get the position. Everyone will know I failed. My boss will lose respect for me. I’ll feel embarrassed. I might even lose my current position or get demoted.” (You can make the scenario as ridiculously over-the-top as you like.)
Suddenly, it seems a little silly, right? The worst that could happen is you won’t get what you want. Instead of fearing it, learn what didn’t work, brush yourself off, and try again.
4. Accept What You Can’t
There are situations life hands us that we didn’t ask for—illnesses and accidents, for example, or health-issues faced by our children or spouse.
When these challenges arise, we must adapt and adjust. As you design your life, realize none of us can predict the future. Some situations may blindside us and knock us way off our path.
Remember, acceptance doesn’t mean tolerance. When we accept our powerlessness over a situation, we don’t need to live with it forever. We can start to explore ways we will adapt and grow within these new circumstances.
Sometimes the universe serves us a “not now” answer for something we want, but it doesn’t mean, “not ever.” When we face a delay or a detour on our path, we often discover new and positive outcomes we didn’t anticipate.
As you brainstorm and design your life, focus on the feelings and ideas you want overall. Realize, the portrait you’re painting might end up a little different at the end, and it’s totally okay. The beauty is in the process.
5. Think Big
As you design your life, journal on your thoughts and ideas. You may find it helpful to create a vision board or a similar tool to help you bring the life you love into fruition.
Don’t feel afraid to think big. Stop putting self-imposed limits on your dreams. Ask yourself, what would you do if you had no restrictions?
Once you have your big dreams in mind, consider the obstacles and the paths you will use to overcome them. Brainstorm every option you can imagine and then narrow down your path. You may want to set clear goals and timeframes to keep you on track.
When you look at a big goal, ask:
- What do I need to do in the next year to make this happen? What will I do in the next quarter? next month?
- How will I break those steps down week-to-week?
- What will I do today to take a step toward my goal?
Stay open to other opportunities along your journey. Regularly journal, so you get to know yourself and know what you want. Block out regular time to work on your big goals and put the time on your calendar.
6. Focus Your Aim
When you design your life, you may face what’s called choice overload. When people face too many choices, they become overwhelmed by options. Of course, none of us want to choose the wrong path, especially when we’re making big life-altering decisions.
First of all, remember although you’re making a choice, you can course-correct as needed. When you do make a choice or set a goal, don’t overwhelm yourself by choosing several items to work toward at one time.
Instead, pick one goal and start working toward it. Once you’re successfully on your path and comfortable with your tasks, then add another goal.
For example, if you’d like to become a certified yoga instructor, write a book, or start a home-based business, consider the ways you could overlap these three goals. If they don’t seem to overlap, start working on one first.
Perhaps you want to write a book, so set aside time each day to write. Once it’s become a regular habit, look into yoga teaching courses. Do those fit with your schedule? Several months down the road, start refining your business plan.
Goal-setting is where your vision board is critical. Use your board to picture the life you want and all the components you see, then choose steps to work toward each part of your vision.
7. Let Go of Regret
Many people report feelings of regret at the end of their lives. This regret often comes not from what they haven’t achieved or accomplished, but from the relationships that they failed to cultivate and nurture.
While we may want many significant achievements in our lives, it’s important we’re not setting ourselves up for regret in the long run. Remember, as author Robert A. Heinlein said, “Happiness is wanting what you get, not getting what you want.”
Don’t set yourself up for regrets. Focus on building your connections with others. Have new experiences. Get curious. Go on adventures and say yes to new activities. These are the moments that help us live a full and satisfying life.
8. Surround Yourself with Kind People
As you design your life, consider what type of people you want to surround yourself with. Those who are essential in your life should be kind, warm, and caring. They should connect with you. They should push you to become your best and support you along the way.
Often, the connections we build with people lead us in new directions and open new doors we never saw on the horizon.
Talk to people and spend more time with the people you care about. Express your appreciation and admiration for others. If there’s someone you look up to, let them know. Spend time with them and see what they teach you.
Cultivating meaningful relationships is a crucial part of designing a life you love. After all, what’s better than a life filled with beautiful connections?
9. Take Care of Your Body
Our bodies are so amazing. They give us strength and energy to carry on each day. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
Listen to your body’s cues. Care for your body:
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat a variety of healthy foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise regularly
- Practice self-care
- Find time for mindfulness
- Live simply
- Reduce stress
If you do these simple acts of self-care, you will keep your body vibrant, healthy, and strong. You’ll live a life you love because you’ll have the energy and stamina to enjoy it!
10. Get to Know Yourself
If you want to design a life you love, get to know yourself well. Knowing yourself comes from mindfulness and reflection.
I set aside time each morning to journal. Sometimes it’s a long stream of consciousness—a brain dump—to get everything out of my head for the day. Journaling helps me start the day clear-headed and alert.
Doing this type of reflection also clues me in on cues from my mind and body. I pick up on my feelings, and I’m more aware of what I want.
Get to know your strengths and play to those strengths. Position your life toward doing what you do best. What are you good at? Those activities will likely align with what you love to do. Trust your heart.
11. Learn to Acknowledge and Appreciate
As you work on your life design, take time to acknowledge and appreciate the path that’s led you up to this point. We often get so focused on where we’d like to be that we forget to explore where we are.
Mindfulness helps us stay in the moment and appreciate what’s happening right now. You may not have the exact life you want. You may even struggle with specific situations. But what strengths are you gaining from these struggles?
In my most difficult moments, I’m amazed by the support I’ve received from friends and family. While I’m unhappy with a situation, I’m appreciative of the care and love surrounding me.
When I start to listen to my emotions and pay attention to my feelings, I often shift my mindset from frustration to gratitude. I feel happier, more satisfied, and at ease. Even though a moment is rough, I’m thankful for the positive aspects of my life.
12. Find the Lesson
If you want to design a life you love, learn how to extract the lesson from each experience. Every moment we face teaches us something valuable.
- Learn more about ourselves.
- Discover how strong we are.
- Learn how to re-route and correct a mistake.
- Find out about the real character of others.
Every experience—especially challenging ones—offer us a lesson. As you work on designing a life of purpose and fulfillment, tap into these lessons to help you grow.
We either view life as happening to us, or as happening for us. When we focus on the lessons in challenges, each mistake and struggle becomes an opportunity.
If you want to live a life filled with meaning, purpose, and satisfaction, design your life carefully. Consider what’s essential and what will bring you the most happiness. Fill your life with those pieces, and you’ll live a life you love!
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