Designing Your Best Life – Part II: “How?”

Designing Your Best Life – Part II

We hope you are inspired to design and build your best life – a life examined, intentionally built, which suits your needs and wants, befitting your standards. You will be invigorated by this purposeful approach which will excite you every day until your life’s end when you can say to yourself that you’ve lived your absolute best life with a huge smile on your face.

If you haven’t yet, you may wish to read Designing Your Best Life – Part I: ” What & Why?”, which is the prequel to this blog.

The alternative is to live a life unexamined with one day replacing the next and trying to live up to someone else’s ideals but never being satisfied and instead feeling like an imposter in your own life. You have accumulated stuff that you don’t remember where from or what to do with it along with missed opportunities and regrets. You wonder persistently what life is all about.

The choice is clear to me. Here are some of my ideas as to the designing process when you are ready to hit the ‘start’ button.

1. Reflect Deeply

Determining your Elements of Life

What constitutes your life? As discussed in the prior blog, it will likely include some or all of the following: your life purpose, job/work, money/finance, relationships, health and recreation. We will call these “Elements of Life” for the purpose of our conversation. You will want to visualize (or create on a piece of paper/excel sheet) three columns -Elements of Life, Your Best Life – Short Term, and Your Best Life – Long Term. You may want to add more elements like spirituality or community. For me, that’s part of my health and life mission but you may want separate sections (see table below).

Defining your best life in short-term & long-term

Short-term here means your ‘current’ situation progressing until you have reached your best life fully. In the example below, Peter has a plan to arrive at his ideal lifestyle in the year 2025. While he is working towards this goal, he will continue to live his life true to his vision, purpose and values. He doesn’t want to compromise his values now just to achieve an ideal life later. Peter plans to live sustainably now and later. He’s not intending to pursue activities that are harmful to the planet and himself ‘now’ because he plans to live a sustainable life later.

This seems self-evident, yet we do this all the time. I have witnessed people who say that “family” is their life purpose, yet they prioritize their work over their children and partner with the justification that “if I work hard now and make sacrifices, I can spend more time later with my loved ones”.

Your answers should be aspirational, yet attainable

Your desired life needs to be attainable with your assets – finances and talents. It should be aspirational while being attainable. It is a fine balancing act for sure and a well-lived life hangs in the balance. When we genuinely embrace the process, we’ll be mindful to not have such grand plans that they’re unachievable.

If you have never danced before, aspiring to become a world-famous ballerina may not be attainable. If you have zero dollars saved so far, your goal of travelling leisurely around the world for the next few years may not be attainable.

Saltwater Iguana, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, December 2011

Expect that the answers will evolve over time

When you’re looking for answers about your life desires, you may become aware that circumstances may change. And you’re right, they do. So you start with your definition of your best life right now with the expectation that things will change over time and that you may need to adapt your design accordingly.

Peter below wants to remain an electrician until he has moved to Vancouver Island. However his company may be sold to another one whose values no longer agree with his or he may suddenly find himself with a large inheritance that can support his best life sooner, or he may even change his mind about being a farmer. So why bother going through all this process if that’s the case? Why not just try to live our best life now and forget about the future?

Well, I have the habit of answering questions with questions. Would you run your best 100-meter race without a finish line? Would you say that the finish line guides you, even encourages you to run your best course in the race? Would you say that without the finish line, even the best sprinter may not achieve her best results?

Your Name: Peter
Year 2021 – 2024
Year 2025 – ‘end of time’
Life Vision/PurposeLive Harmoniously with all life forms,
Sustainable Lifestyle
Live Harmoniously with all life forms,
Sustainable Lifestyle
Work/JobElectricianRegenarative Farmer
Money/FinanceSalariedAchieve a net asset of $1,000,000.
Annual Expense $40,000 (=1,000,000/25)
RelationshipsSusie, Kids, Rob, Andrea,
Mentor in the regenerative farming field
Susie, Kids, Rob, Andrea,
Mentor in the regenerative farming field
Mentees in the regenerative farming field
Health3 times a week Workout
Daily meditation
3 times a week Workout
Daily meditation
RecreationHiking, TravellingHiking, Travelling
Additional Elements

2. Attitude Towards the Process

Be reflective

When you fill out your elements and answers, you’ll require good quality time set aside for your reflection. You will need to reach deep into your heart to find answers. It may seem like I’m stating the obvious, yet it is worthwhile to point out that this is your life design. I dare to say to you that nothing is more important than your life.

Another obvious statement: Remember that it is YOUR life that you are designing, not someone else’s. Surprisingly to you, you may have lived your life by someone else’s ideal, not your own. Reaching within to find answers isn’t always simple but it will be worth your efforts. I encourage you not to postpone this endeavour.

Reflective and Earnest for your Desired Life – Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

Be Earnest

You must be as earnest as possible. This contemplation is not something you’ll need to show anyone else but it’s an important step in connecting with your inner desires and dreams. What good would it do you if you just told yourself untruths? So be honest with yourself. You don’t need to fool yourself. If I wanted to impress my friends and family, I could think of tons of ‘life purposes’ that would sound good. But that’s not the point here. We need to stay true to our real wants, values and aspirations.

My old colleagues may want to see me in an influential role in my old industry. However, having spent some time considering my options, being earnest with myself and honoring this process, I acknowledge that I have a desire for influence, but not at all in the same industry, not even from a corporate position. This may mean that some of my relationships may drift apart and I am okay with that.

Nothing is permanent in life and I will gain new relationships that are compatible with my best life moving forward. Your answers to your design are not what you think will look cool to others but what is truly motivating and exciting for you! Always remember, it is your life, not someone else’s.

Be Ambitious

Be ambitious as your best life should be a worthwhile endeavour and inspiring for you. Don’t settle for something mundane in the name of being ‘realistic’. That approach won’t do your life justice. A life worth living shouldn’t be mundane, a thing of mediocrity or an okay life. Park your ‘humility’ or even your ‘realistic’ approach that tells you that you don’t deserve anything better than now. “I am just a regular Joe (or Jill).” “Why would I deserve anything better?” I would empathically say to you, “Why the hell not?” The truth is that everyone deserves their best life.

“The only limits you have are the limits you believe.” — Wayne Dyer

Your Life Vision to inform your decisions – Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

3. Your Authentic Life Starts with Your Life Vision

Life vision & purpose should be the driving forces of your life that inform all your other decisions

What are your life vision and purpose? I am using them interchangeably here although they are two different things. Some of us may respond more clearly to ‘Vision’ and some to ‘Purpose’. Pick whichever is easier for you; one that you see as a guiding light and one that helps your other decisions in life. You may have modest ambitions or maybe really big. Either way, we want to be authentic. What drives you in life? Is your life vision helping homeless kids? Saving the environment? Is your life purpose your family? If so, they are your guiding lights.

“If you’re your authentic self, you have no competition.”  – Unknown

In the table above, Peter desires to live harmoniously with nature. His sustainable living is his life vision. He plans to build a life as a regenerative farmer long-term which is aligned with his vision. For me, connecting with people at a deeper level and helping people to achieve their potential fulfills me. That is my life vision and purpose. What is yours?

Answer as best as you can but leave it blank if you don’t have the answers yet

Little by little, one by one, you will fill out the table as earnestly as possible. What you will do for each element short-term should support your long-term goals. If your long-term goal is to be a regenerative farmer, your short-term life choices may include saving up money to buy a farm, for which your current electrician job may serve the purpose as long as you are still being true to your life vision (sustainable).

However, if the job that you have is misaligned with your life vision and purpose, you may consider switching jobs. In Peter’s case, he may switch to working at a farm with regenerative practices so that he can be better prepared for his long-term goals.

If you desire to completely depend on your farm to support your lifestyle, you may want to achieve your financial freedom numbers before you can fully move towards this goal. Your relationship may also include a mentor in the regenerative farming field.

Now is just as important as later

One thing to keep crystal clear here is that you don’t have to settle for a mediocre life now, putting up with a life you don’t enjoy just so that you can have a better life in the future. You will need to live ‘now’ as well as ‘for later’. In Peter’s case, he currently works for a company that values his work and that tries to use sustainable practices. So for him, it makes sense to continue his current work as it is the most efficient way to save up money for his dream life later on.

Reflect deeply on your life, balance between now and later! Photo by Michael Busch on Unsplash

4. Turn your Designed Life into a Story

There is no one right way or perfect life for everyone. However, there might be one that you could call YOUR best life that meets your wants, needs and standards. Now that you have some of the answers, you can write or draw your own best life. It may look something like this using the table above:

Fast-forward five years from now. Peter, a former electrician, feels good about his hard work raising two children to be responsible citizens of the world. He is ready for new challenges now that his kids both have reached adulthood. He sold his Vancouver home a number of years ago and moved his family out to the gulf islands and just begun his work as a regenerative farmer in a rural town.

His new lifestyle doesn’t require a big budget, and his small expenses are supported by the farm’s produce sales. He enjoys a simple and healthy lifestyle and being close to nature. His life meaning and fulfillment is found in contributing to a healthier planet by minimizing his carbon footprint.

When he is not working on the farm, he can be found hiking one of the many trails that the gulf islands offer. He has also made some really good new friends by joining the regenerative farming community. A couple of months out of the year when the farm slows down, he travels to different parts of the world with his family and/or friends.

Establishing a clear picture of your life design and turning it into a story will help you to crystallize your vision and own it. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to share your story with others. But the most important thing is that it will help you to stay motivated. It is so much easier to tell a story to others and yourself than to have a table of contents.

5. Your Unique Journey

Map your Unique Journey – Photo by Tabea Damm on Unsplash

Your best life is your destination. Map the journey

Congratulations! Your biggest and most difficult task in Life Design is done – defining your best life. How will you now bring forth the best life that you have designed? Your destination will guide you naturally to what you will need to do in order to actualize your dreams. Like the 100 meter sprinter; she has her finish line to guide her.

If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get ‘there’. Without designing a worthwhile life to pursue, you will not be able to achieve it. Your chance of living your best life is substantially greater now that you have a plan. So now that it’s within your reach, let’s discuss the planning – and map the journey.

Each element has long-term goals, for which you will have short-term milestones

In Peter’s example, the big change he aspires to is to acquire a farmhouse on Vancouver Islands outside the Vancouver mainland. With that goal in mind, he will need to establish what smaller shorter-term adjustments he needs to make in order to achieve this bigger change. Through various online and offline research, he can learn how much it will cost to buy a plot and a small farmhouse. He may also want to join an online community that supports his future aspiration.

The research may inform him that with the proceeds from the sale of his current house in Vancouver, he will be able to buy a small plot with a house in a rural village. So he signs up for a real estate forum on the islands and subscribes to a few online learning sites for regenerative farming. Knowing his plan already, he may even “time” the market and sell his Vancouver house high and buy low on the islands.

Live Life that is True to Yourself – Photo by Luke Leung on Unsplash

6. Live Life that is True to Yourself Now

Get motivated by your best life & enjoy the journey

Once you are on the journey of pursuing your dream, you will notice that the journey itself is fun and invigorating! You now have a purpose in life. Instead of working for a corporation or some distant shareholders, you are working for your own dream and your job at the corporation will serve your life goals. It shifts your focus and your current job will suddenly provide a purpose.

Examine your design to ensure balance between “now & later”

Life is about balance. You need to design a life that is worthwhile living now AND for later with the awareness that your life can expire next month. You may not believe it’s soon and the odds are, maybe not, but nevertheless, there is an expiration date for all of us. So live now. And tomorrow too.

In Peter’s case, he is able to enjoy a sustainable life now while living in an urban city. He works in his backyard garden and indoors to grow various vegetables. Not only does he try his best to reduce waste but also brings his sustainable mindset to his electrician job. He tries his best to advise his clients with great options to reduce waste and help the planet.

Here is an example of imbalance

Meet Lisa. Her life design involves a significant pay increase from her current job or if not her current employment, then definitely needs to consider some additional side hustles. She wants to provide ‘the best’ for her kids, a ‘quality life’ so she decides to put in more hours at her work. Despite her life vision to provide her family and herself with quality of life, she now currently lives away from her kids a lot.

Quality of life comes from quality time but Lisa is not spending any time with her kids nor on herself. Her life ‘now’ doesn’t support her life vision. If she perishes in the next month away from her kids by some misfortune, she not only wasted her dream life but also the time she could have spent with her kids.

Claim back your life

Claim the life that is rightfully yours. You may worry about people’s reactions and you may be surprised when they support you however crazy your desired life is, as long as you believe in it. We were all born into situations and circumstances that were not of our own choosing. However, how we live our lives is up to us. Make your own mark. Refuse to live a life by default, or by others’ ideas. Live your best life by your design.

Welcome to the journey. Your life has just begun – truly!

Claim back your life

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